How emotionally resilient are you?
How would you say you compose yourself after a stressful event?
Does the world feel like it’s crumbling down or are you able to see the bigger picture?
Those that are resilient don’t allow for external sources to influence who they are at their core. They understand that whilst things may not be going their way on the outside, they have the ability to choose their internal response.
Being able to better direct our emotions allows us to ride the wind when it comes, rather than allow it to knock us down.
So, how is it that some are able to withstand a tonne of stress without buckling?
To answer that question, we must first understand what emotional resilience actually is.
What Is Emotional Resilience?
Emotional resilience is our ability to handle and adapt to stressful events.
It determines how we interpret unforeseen situations and the internal response we have to a crisis. Those with strong emotional resilience will show flexibility when handling these situations. It’s about being able to get back up and understand that things will improve, rather than allowing negative emotions to take the spotlight.
Whilst looking inwards at our emotions is important, our resilience also impacts our ability to adapt to external change. We saw the rise of social media in the early 2000s, technology is rapidly advancing and we are faced with global challenges and changes on a daily basis. It’s only natural that our emotions feel strained at times.
I want to be the person to tell you that emotional resilience is not a one time victory. Think of resilience like a muscle, it can be used time and time again.
Continuous use makes it stronger.
Building resilience takes time and is a continuous, conscious effort. Resilience is something that follows you throughout your life. It’s the art of being able to bounce back when things are tough or get back up when life knocks you down.
Understanding Resilience Beyond a Simple Test
I have placed great emphasis on the longevity of building resilience because it can be easy to think you’re as resilient as you will ever be.
Conduct a simple search around this topic and you will be met with numerous quizzes that will tell you how resilient you are.
Let me be clear, I don’t think these quizzes are bad or unhelpful.
Resiliencyquiz has a great quick one that gives you a breakdown of the interpretation.
However, understanding resilience and your own emotions takes more than a series of simple questions. These can, at best, give you an answer based on how you think you handle each situation.
How we think we handle situations and how we actually do can differ drastically.
I have met leaders that boast about their resilience and their ability to get through any situation. Yet, when a stressful business crisis/event occurs, it’s easy to see how their actions differ from their resilience score.
How can I evaluate my own emotional resilience I hear you asking?
Arguably the best way is to speak to someone that specialises in this area. Getting an unbiased analysis of your resilience will be far more valuable than a self-analysed result.
Another great way, which I’ll be diving into below, is to look at common traits shared amongst those that show emotional resilience. This will allow you to look at other situations, events and experiences and determine if you share the same trait.
It’s definitely not a guaranteed yes or no.
Many of these traits require focus and time spent on building them. Yet, they show some key points that should allow you to focus and develop them in the future.
6 Traits Emotionally Resilient People Share
1) They Are Able to Build a Supportive Network
Resilience doesn’t have to come from yourself alone.
In my experience, those that display emotional resilience, more often than not, surround themselves with others that share the same level of resilience. Having a tight-knit circle of people that understand you helps take the internal pressure off.
They understand how to provide support in a way that is most constructive for you.
A key part of this is allowing us room to grieve, adapt and/or work through our emotions without effectively solving our problems for us. A big part of resilience comes from our ability to see through the pain and the emotional cloud. When someone solves that for us, we are unable to build those muscles.
Being vulnerable can actually be a great method to communicate effectively and build relationships. When you are open with those around you, you tend to attract a similar type of person to yourself. Whilst it can be scary at first, this can have a big impact on building a supportive network.
2) They Focus on Self-Awareness
Self-awareness helps us determine what we need, when we need it and whether or not now is the right time to reach out to someone for help. Those that are self-aware can be brutally honest with themselves. They know everything isn’t okay. Yet, that doesn’t mean things can’t change.
Clouding yourself in emotional darkness may help you get through a rough patch. Similarly to how ignoring a problem may make it temporarily go away. Self-awareness acts as the long term solution for these short term bandaids.
Let’s be honest, being self-aware won’t solve all of your problems. But it does help you identify exactly what’s wrong so you can better work towards a solution.
Understanding how your brain works and what drives you and impacts you on an emotional level can open up doors for problem-solving.
It can also be highly beneficial to work on your emotional intelligence as well. This can be an effective way to embrace change and develop resilience when unexpected changes happen in your life or workplace.
3) They Know When to Ask for Help
Asking for help can be scary.
It puts us in a vulnerable state and opens us up to others. A supportive network, like the one mentioned above, can help create a safe space to ask for the help you need.
Maybe you’ve met someone in your life that refused to ask for help. They would rather sit on a problem for weeks, determined to get the solution themselves. Try not to be that person.
There is definitely nothing wrong with tackling a problem yourself. The main issue that arises is when we do this but still don’t find a solution.
Perhaps our emotions get in the way or perhaps we simply aren’t ready for the answer. When you build a supportive group and know when to ask for help, you will find those that you know will listen with open ears.
These are the people in our life that give us the feedback we need to hear, not what we want to hear.
4) They Don’t Let Their Thoughts Take Over
Have you ever been paralysed by your thoughts alone? It’s a terrible feeling.
The feeling of being trapped in your own head can be difficult to get out of. When stress takes over, our mind becomes a swirling vortex of incoherent emotions and thoughts. What’s worse is when these thoughts fester and overthrow our regular thought patterns.
How can we solve this?
By getting these thoughts out of our head and into the open. Once they are in the open, they lose their effect on you. Freeing your mind from the confusing clutter is an amazing feeling. Most of the time, the problems we face aren’t as big as we make them out to be.
I have met people that love to write their thoughts out on a piece of paper. Others prefer to jump on a call with a close friend and talk about them. I personally love to journal every day.
Find what works for you and practice it every time you feel your head swirling with thoughts.
5) They Accept What Happens
When there is stress, there is also a relief. When there is pain, there is tranquillity.
Allowing stress to take over because “it is what it is” isn’t acceptance. Acceptance is understanding that something has happened to cause this response and trusting within yourself that what you feel now can be overcome.
Stress and pain are part of life.
They are inescapable, as daunting as that sounds. When we feel it ourselves, we want to do whatever we can to make it go away. If someone close to us is experiencing it, we want to do what we can to help them.
Yet, regardless of the scenario, it is always going to be there.
These events can help us experience a varying amount of emotions. However, getting caught in these emotions can lead to a downward spiral of a loss of control. Whilst we cannot directly control our emotions, we can direct them to the outcome we wish.
Losing control of our ability to direct leads to stress taking over.
Accepting these emotions and understanding why they are there allows us to see the bigger picture. We can see what has caused it, how, why and then we can move on.
6) They Know It’s Okay to Not Know Everything
Our brain is there to keep us alive by all means possible and to identify what may be a threat or danger to our lives. The amygdala will detect stress in our environment and fire off signals to the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) to release cortisol.
Cortisol is the stress hormone that puts our body into action whilst helping us think clearer during moments of stress.
Stress means we are losing control.
It is clear that our brain knows how to deal with stressful situations. Our prefrontal cortex also dials down the environmental responses to seem less stressful. Certain brain regions are inhibited and shut down when exposed to a long release of Cortisol. Information is not processed as efficiently and insights may not be accessible in this state.
Why is this important for this point?
During periods of high stress, we may feel like the only way out is to find a solution immediately. Trouble is, our brain is hard at work regulating the cause of the stress. Continuing to push ourselves to find an answer could be more damaging than simply waiting.
When we actively search for a solution to something that is stressing us out, it doesn’t always appear.
If you have ever laid awake in bed at night trying your hardest to figure something out, you know what I mean. In these instances, reprieve often comes when we are doing something completely unrelated.
Some people find the solution during meditation, others whilst going for a walk or listening to soothing music.
Accepting that we don’t need to know the answers immediately can help calm our mind. It prepares us mentally to receive the right solution and thought when the brain is ready, not when we force it.
Creating Long-Term Emotional Resilience
Emotional resilience and learning how to navigate our emotional landscape are things that we build up throughout our lives. The trauma we have faced and our reactions to that also influence our resilience.
We all go through different things and face a varying degree of stress and pain. As such, we all start, or better yet begin, at different points when focusing on building our own resilience.
Remember that resilience, like a muscle, is a mental task we are building on and strengthening each and every day.
If you are struggling to cope with certain events and/or changes in your life and want to understand your own emotional resilience (and strengthen it), reach out and schedule a free discovery session with me here.
Omozua Isiramen is a High-Performance Brain & Neuro Agility Trainer, Certified Life and Executive Neuro-Leadership Coach, who operates internationally and uses emotional agility and a neuroscience-based approach to empower and prepare clients’ hearts and heads to take the journey from where they are to where they want to be by bravely accessing and optimizing their limitless brain potential for success.
She works with driven professionals, entrepreneurs, teams and organisations to help them build resilience, super fuel their brain to drive greatness from within. When you engage Omozua, you access over 25 years of experience, knowledge and wisdom in helping clients achieve more with ease and in a brain-friendly manner in this fast-paced world.
Omozua is the Director of CWO Solutions which provides Executive and Human Transformation Coaching & Consulting Services; Co-Founder of the Systemic Neuroscience Consulting Group for Leadership and Business which is also the sole provider of the Neuro Agility Profiles ( NAP™) in the Benelux
She co-developed The 3-to-5 BrainSystem Code™ – The Code that leads you beyond the surface-level approach of getting long term results and makes you #FutureReady Today.
Available for: 1:1 or Group Coaching & Consultation and Corporate Workshops.