How Does One Develop Emotional Resilience?

What is emotional resilience and how does one develop it?

My own definition of emotional resilience or being emotionally strong is 1) having the skills to face challenges head-on, 2) being able to constructively handle ones emotions and the emotions of the other, and 3) adapt well in emotionally stressful and difficult situations.

It is a significant indicator of emotional intelligence and plays a big role in if one has lasting, health and satisfying relationships.

How does one develop emotional resilience?

Proponents of attachment theory suggests that the way we deal with challenges and adapt well in emotionally stressful and difficult situations can be traced back to childhood experience with an attachment figure.

Research regarding the association of specific attachment styles with resilience, as measured by a stress-resistant attitude found that both dismissive attachment and secure attachment styles are associated with greater resilience, whereas fearful and preoccupied attachment styles are not (Karreman & Vingerhoets, 2012)

Compared to individuals with dismissive attachment styles, securely attached individuals are more likely to rely on social support systems including significant others when stressed (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2003). Dismissive individuals, however, are more likely to develop a self-reliant attitude in which they avoid interaction with significant others and all social support systems when coping with stress (Bowlby, 1977; Main & Solomon, 1986).

Comparatively, individuals with fearful attachment styles tend to desire interactions and support but experience intense anxiety about displaying vulnerability and therefore withdraw from significant others and peers whereas preoccupied individuals exaggerate their need for interaction and support and often fail to gain the connection and support they believe they require in order to cope with stressors (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2003).

And according to the American Psychological Association, a person’s culture “might have an impact on how he or she communicates feelings and deals with adversity — for example, whether and how a person connects with significant others, including extended family members and community resources.

Very useful to know! But I don’t think how some individuals come to be more emotionally resilient than others is as interesting when talking emotional resilience in case of a break-up:

1) How can you confidently face the emotional challenges of a break-up head-on?

2) How do you constructively handle your emotions and the emotions of your ex?

3) How do you adapt well in emotionally stressful and difficult situations?

This I think is of more interest to my readers and I will be discussing this in more detail in future articles.

Before you get to being able to constructively handle your ex’s emotions, you have to first and foremost learn not to “run from s**t anymore”. You must learn how to “sit in your own s**t and clean up the mess like a grown-up man (or woman)”.

The American Psychological Association lists these 10 ways to build resilience.

1. Make connections.

Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Some people find that being active in civic groups, faith-based organizations, or other local groups provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need also can benefit the helper.

2. Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems.

You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.

3. Accept that change is a part of living.

Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.

4. Move toward your goals.

Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, “What’s one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?”

5. Take decisive actions.

Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.

6. Look for opportunities for self-discovery.

People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life.

7. Nurture a positive view of yourself.

Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.

8. Keep things in perspective.

Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.

9. Maintain a hopeful outlook.

An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.

10. Take care of yourself.

Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.

It also helps to understand how you get triggered and how your ex gets triggered.

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