How To Strengthen Your Emotional Resilience
It is instinctual to tend to our wounds when they are physical ones. If I cut my finger, I’ll put a bandaid on it. If I have a persisting migraine, I’ll take over-the-counter painkillers. We are so quick to tend to our physical injuries, but not yet so accustomed to treating our psychological ones.
Here are ways to reinforce your ability to stay resilient when facing adversity.
Correct self-defeating behaviours. When we feel lonely, we sometimes act counterproductively by avoiding further social interactions to minimise the risk of feeling this way again. Take a moment to identify the excuses you make in social situations and challenge yourself to attend or initiate despite your fears. You can also make a list of people whose company you enjoy, and initiate plans to meet up with them.
Fail fast and learn faster. Failure can sometimes distort our perception of reality by making our goals seem further out of reach, which demotivates us from continuing to pursue them. Reorient your mind to acknowledge that everybody makes mistakes, and take this failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. Establish what you had under your control, such as your effort or preparation time, then identify how you can improve on these factors moving forward. Not only will this help you develop a more positive and productive attitude towards future roadblocks, but it will also increase your chances of success.
Do not dwell. When we make mistakes, we tend to turn the situation around in our heads and become very self-critical. While it is important to reflect in order to improve, catch yourself from spending too much time thinking about what happened and what could have been. You can do this by distracting yourself with an activity that requires concentration, such as doing brain teasers, reading educational articles, or watching light-hearted TV shows.
Understand rejection. Rejections have a way of making us feel undervalued and invalidated. For instance, you may feel dismissed by a social circle, or your application for a job did not progress to the next stage. While our friendship groups and careers form part of our identity, they do not define us entirely. Affirm yourself by listing down attributes and qualities that are important to you and that you believe you possess, your achievements, and hardships you have overcome.
Unload emotional baggage. We carry excessive guilt often because someone we care about has not yet forgiven us. A key ingredient to a sincere apology is empathy. When you apologise to someone, make sure you show that you understand how you made them feel. If your apology is sincere and they are still not ready to forgive you, know that this is something out of your control. Time and space heals all wounds, yet there will be times when the other party will not give you the closure you need, and you will need to learn how to do this for yourself. Practice self-forgiveness and self-betterment by acknowledging your shortcomings, identifying how to improve, and following through.