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How To Become Emotionally Resilient

Emotional resilience we hear a lot about these days, but what is it and how do we become emotionally resilient.

Emotional resilience refers to one's ability to adapt to stressful situations or crises. More resilient people can "roll with the punches" and adapt to adversity without lasting difficulties; less resilient people have a more challenging time with stress and life changes, both major and minor. Creating a robust mental immunity is the foundation of emotional resilience.

Just like a cold or flu can derail the health of someone who is already sick or has a compromised immune system, a setback or, negative thoughts can do the same to someone who is not "mentally immune." So, how do we strengthen our mental immune response?

We condition our mind to expect negative and fearful thoughts and challenging situations outside of ourselves and, to tolerate them when they do arise. 

When we have "mental immunity", we are able to become a third party observer to our thoughts and our corresponding feelings. We can identify what we need, what we don't want, and what really matters to us and to progress our lives forward in other ways. We all know that mental immunity is good, but when we are in the thick of our suffering, how do we begin to build it? 

This shifts our expectation from trying to avoid pain and instead to building meaning and recognising that pain is just part of life's journey.

1. Change the Narrative

When something bad happens, we often relive the event over and over in our heads, rehashing the pain. This process is called rumination; it's like a cognitive spinning of the wheels, and it doesn't move us forward toward healing and growth.

I challenge you to sit yourself down, and write continuously for 20 minutes about the issue, explore your deepest thoughts and feelings around it. The goal is to get something down on paper, not to create a masterpiece. Once you have explored all the negative thoughts and feelings then turn around and look for the silver lining, find the positives outcomes. There is a lot of research which indicates the therapeutic benefits of writing amid a crisis is of huge mental benefit. 

2. Face Your Fears

The practice overcoming your everyday fears that get in the way of living a full life, such as the fear of public speaking, heights, or flying. We can't talk ourselves out of such fears; instead, we have to tackle the emotions associated directly.

The first step is too slow, and repeatedly, expose yourself to the thing that scares you —in small doses. For example, people with a fear of public speaking might try talking more in meetings, then perhaps giving a toast at a small wedding.

Over time, you can incrementally increase the challenge until you're ready to nail that big speech or TV  interview. I use to have a fear of heights so I went skydiving. It took me several years to enrol but when I made the decision to do so it changed my life.

I had a fear of drowning so I took up SCUBA diving and eventually after many years I became an instructor. In effect, this kind of "exposure therapy" helped me to change the associations I had. Though the fear may never be completely gone, I now have greater courage to confront it head-on. These examples may seem extreme, but I chose to overcome the fear, and so can you. 

3. Have an Attitude of Progress, not Perfection

Aiming for a 1% improvement in your behaviour or coping mechanisms each day is more effective than trying to revolutionise your life in one attempt. A small incremental change each day is actually achievable. 4. Imagine what you would do with your life if fear were no object.

That is what you should be doing now. Focusing too much on trying to "get over" something reinforces it. It keeps us in the space of being broken. Learning to refocus on what matter is what actually gets us to move on. 

5. Be Present

Being present is essential for developing mental strength and emotional health because it allows us to respond to our thoughts and feelings in real-time, and to confront those thoughts and feelings which unnerves us.

We need to give ourselves some latitude and allow ourselves to feel all the emotions on the spectrum and to know that it is healthy. We need to let go of the idea that overcoming something means eradicating it, instead, we need to learn to act despite it and by doing so we will inch toward the lives we aspire to, rather than succumb to being victims of our minds. 

Alex Sipala is an avid learner, trusted mentor and celebrated business Coach who walks the walk. Alex mentors and empowers thousands of business leaders and achievers globally. His mission is too "Positively Influence the influencers" and assist business leaders, and high achievers make a positive impact. Alex is happily married to his wife Jacqueline, and he is a proud father of six children. 


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