Everyone goes through challenging experiences: loss, illness, divorce, and other hardships can take a heavy emotional toll. Resilience is being able overcome these kind of struggles and is the ability to “bounce back.” But you don’t have to wait until the storms hit to develop this skill. Here are 5 ways to build resilience for when you really need it:
1) Seek 3:1 Ratio of Positive to Negative Emotions
Studies about highly resilient people show that they don’t experience fewer negative emotions, but instead experience more positive emotions. In other words, we don’t have to fake anything or pretend that we don’t feel difficult emotions, but we can foster positivity to help balance them. Trying to hit a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative emotions can put things in perspective and help develop resilience (take the test at positivityratio.com to see how you are doing!).
2) Find Meaning in Difficult Events
Sometimes the things that happen to us aren’t as important as what we tell ourselves about what has happened. We can make sense of our experiences by extracting meaning and values from difficult things we’ve been through. I love the following quote from Cynthia Occelli: “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out, and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” By trying to view your difficulties and challenges as opportunities for growth, you will be able to become stronger and more resilient.
3) Stay Connected with Loved Ones
We tend to think of resilience as rugged individualism, or depending on only oneself. The opposite is true, actually. Resilient people need a support system of friends and family who care about them. They are good about reaching out for and receiving help! Cultivate and maintain close relationships so that they are there for you when you need them. Set the foundation now so that you are not desperate in crisis.
4) View Yourself as Confident and Capable
How we view ourselves can make a huge difference in how successful we are at navigating life’s challenges. By using self-talk as motivation, we can be resilient and overcome difficult experiences. Try to view yourself as confident and capable in handling challenges. It may begin my simply telling yourself that you can do hard things, but the goal is to move toward actually seeing yourself that way.
5) Develop Healthy Emotional Coping Skills
It’s easy to name unhealthy coping skills or habits: drinking, drugs, sex, self-harm, etc. Thankfully, there are a number of positive coping skills that we can utilize. Some of these include exercise, journaling, and maintaining close relationships. But the first and most basic coping skill is to simply recognize that you are feeling something and then identify what it is. Remember that emotions are just queues for what is going on in your life, and just naming your emotion helps it become more manageable.