A question I often get asked is, "How can I be emotionally stronger?" When I hear that question I think of how important it is to be resilient in life. Sometimes this skill isn't learned until adulthood. Some people never learn to be resilient.
Since stress is a fact of life, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. The way you choose to cope with what cannot be changed in and around you makes a difference in how resilient you will be.
When you are resilient, you move to positive emotions after a short period of being preoccupied with the problem or experiencing negative feelings and restless sleep. Resilient individuals bounce back quickly.
Resilience has become so important in life that The U.S. Army began its Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program for 1.1 million active-duty soldiers, reservists, and members of the National Guard in the fall of 2009. The largest component of this program is resiliency training. The belief is that there is a need for soldiers to attend to psychological/mental fitness the same way they do to physical fitness. The Soldier Fitness program divides resilience into four areas:
Over the last 4 years, the study has collected a lot of information about developing emotional strength and resilience. It shows there is no single way to maintain emotional balance when things are tough because different things work for different people. However, it does help to be realistically optimistic during difficult times because this increases your ability to solve problems and find solutions. This means that you will:
- Do your best to stay in the present (not past or future).
- Be specific about the situation (avoid generalizing).
- Identify and stop catastrophic thoughts.
- Determine what you believe to be true and what you may be imagining.
To be emotionally strong:
- Find meaning in your life.
- Believe you can influence your surroundings and the outcome of events
- Believe you can learn and grow from both positive and negative experiences.
Going through transitions in life are times it's important to be emotional strong and resiient. Positive emotions (love, curiosity, gratitude) and laughter are known to help you balance your emotional life, reduce your level of stress, and be more resilient. Increased contact with and support from important people in your life increases your sense of worth and builds your resilience. Above all, choose to do things on a daily basis that add meaning to your life.
Other resources and protective factors that promote resilience include:
- Safe neighborhoods
- Positive social organizations such as libraries, churches, synagogues, etc.
- Close relationships with important people in your life
- Good problem-solving skills
- A positive view of self and outlook on life
I would love to know what helps you be resilient.
Until next time,