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Emotional resilience and how to enhance it?

Updated on April 21, 2015

Emotional resilience is the capacity to withstand stress and strain caused by various adversities. People are able to rebuild their lives even after devastating tragedies. Resilience means bouncing back from difficult experiences. Ordinarily, we all possess emotional resilience, the presence of which we demonstrate from time to time while facing an adversity. Being resilient does not mean that an individual doesn’t experience distress and pain but it means that such an individual has the power of adaptability to face adversity.

Factors contributing to emotional resilience –

Many factors contribute to the development of emotional resilience. The most important factor in its development is having caring and supportive relationships within and outside the family. Relationships based on trust and love offer encouragement to bolster a person’s resilience. Other factors that promote it include the following –

  • Stable housing
  • Economic stability
  • Strong cultural identity
  • Availability of good health care
  • Affiliation with religious or faith community
  • A confidence in one’s abilities and strengths
  • Communication and problem solving skills
  • An ability to make realistic plans and capability to follow through with them

Emotionally resilient people are like bamboo in a hurricane, which can bend and, therefore, does not break. Emotionally resilient people may feel broken temporarily but still deep inside they feel that they won’t be broken forever.

Characteristics of an emotionally resilient person –

Emotionally resilient people have certain characteristics that make them withstand adversities bravely and emerge intact out of them. The following are the characteristics of emotionally fit people -

They don’t have negativity – They try their best to find positivity in a situation how bad it may be. They are able to reflect on what is going well and are grateful for it.

They are mindful of the present – They live in the present and savor the sensations and feelings of the moment. They never regret the past decisions, worry about the future; they never envy other’s success.

They are flexible – Emotionally fit people remember that the adversity is short-lived. They have a clear goal in front and they don’t lose its sight in spite of adverse situation they are facing. They see change as an integral part of life. So, they are emotionally well prepared for some moments of despair, sadness and discomfort.

They don’t isolate themselves – They find time to make social contact, help the less fortunate and do exercise regularly even when they are undergoing adverse circumstances. They know that healthy distractions are an essential element of overcoming adverse circumstances.

They explore other options – They try to think outside the box; they look at a problem from different angles. They are prepared to wait rather than seek quick fix solutions. And when they find the appropriate solution, they don’t waste time to implement it.

They are not impulsive – They don’t indulge in impulsive behavior like shopping, drinking, smoking, gambling and sex to offset emotional disturbance. Emotionally resilient people keep such impulses at bay by thinking about consequences of indulging in them.

They enjoy humor – Humor and laughter play an important role in helping to build emotional resilience. Humor helps to see the absurdity of a situation that may be painful. In addition, humor and laughter reduce stress hormone - cortisol – and increase feel good hormone – endorphin.

They practice acceptance – Unlike complacence, acceptance of an adverse situation gives dramatic relief from the stress that the situation causes. Being without stress can make one think clearly about different options to tackle the adverse situation.

They know the power of time – Emotionally fit people know that time heals all wounds. So, they let time do its work instead of laying blame on others for their misfortunes.

They choose to be happy – They know that being right is not what will make them happy. They normally don’t pick up a fight even if they are right. If they come across a relationship problem, they don’t fight to win over the other by proving that they are right. They choose what is more important to them: the relationship or pride.

They focus on the right – They know that focusing on something uses energy. Focusing on wrong aspect of a situation will waste one’s energy and, that is why, they focus on its right aspect to find out a solution which is mostly hidden in the situation.

How to enhance emotional resilience? –

Emotional resilience involves behaviors, thoughts and actions, which can be learned and developed by anyone.

Use self efficacy – Let us not rush to others to find solutions to our problems because we are the ones who have correct assessment of the situation and others may not clearly understand our views. Consulting others may sometimes complicate the matter so we may not get a good solution. We are creative and resourceful enough to find appropriate solutions to our problems. We all possess good reasoning power and can use problem solving techniques of our own to solve the problems. Resist the urge to blame others.

Practice empathy – We all have this wonderful trait of empathy in us but somehow or other we don’t use it often because we are much attached to our views and beliefs. Empathy requires us to put ourselves into other’s shoes and walk with them for some distance so that we can understand their view. When we practice empathy, we start seeing ourselves and others around us as having a value. Thus, we avoid many triggers that may create unpleasant situations in future. Moreover, the practice of empathy makes us happy due to the effect of oxytocin, the level of which it increases.

Practice patience – The practice of patience will give an individual to have a better insight into the bad situation. Patience also reduces stress and sharpens our focus on the options to tackle the difficult situation.

Find lasting solutions – Many a time we find temporary solutions to our problems instead of finding its root cause. This may give us some respite for the time being but the real problem still exists. Many of these temporary solutions are destructive. In spite of our best of efforts, we sometimes are not able to solve a difficult situation, which lingers on and becomes chronic. This also gives us emotional resilience as we have to face the lingering distress. We can create a capacity of finding lasting solutions to the problems by making genuine effort to do so.

Practice gratitude – Being grateful for a difficult situation as it will teach us many lessons will, in fact, make us emotionally resilient. We can also be grateful for the bad situations as they provide us opportunities to learn how to handle them effectively, thus enhancing our skills. The practice of gratitude will help us tap the reservoir of divine energy to handle the situation well.

The bottom line –

We all have emotional resilience to different extents and that is why we bounce back to normal from difficult situations taking our own time. Emotionally resilient people have certain characteristics, which they can further enhance by using them effectively. However, those who lack those characteristics can also learn to develop them because our happiness depends much on our emotional resilience.


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    • Dr Pran Rangan profile image

      Dr Pran Rangan 2 years ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      What you wrote above is really true. Thanks for liking my hub.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      A person does not realize how important it is to have emotional resilience until we meet someone who does not have it. They struggle in all aspects of life, and have a difficult time learning from their own experiences. These are great tips for helping us develop the quality of emotional resilience.

    • Dr Pran Rangan profile image

      Dr Pran Rangan 2 years ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      It is true how we deal with change is the key to our true character. Thanks for your nice comments.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 2 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      This hub held many truths. I especially loved the part where you say " We may bend but we do not break" It is so true. Trials are apart of life and we must go through them. It's not about how good or bad we are; its about growth. We don't like change but it is a necessary part of life. How we deal with change is the key to our true character. Sharing and voted up!