Emotional resilience is generally understood to be your ability to adapt to ‘bad’ things that happen like trauma, stress and crisis. You are emotionally resilient if you can ‘roll with the punches’ and keep going without lasting difficulties. You’re thought to be less resilient if you have a harder time dealing with stress; and major or minor life changes.
So, it looks like we’d all like to be as resilient as possible and there are some good resources and steps that instruct on how you might become more resilient. Most commonly, the advice is to make some lifestyle changes; look after your physical health; be kind to yourself and use your support network. All leading to improved well-being and self-esteem.
Research has identified some key characteristics of resilience. ‘Resilient Individuals Use Positive Emotions to Bounce Back From Negative Emotional Experiences’ … for the scientific among us! (Me!) Both people with high- and low-resilience were equally frustrated in response to the most important problem they could describe. Highly resilient people reported higher ambient moods – they were able to express happiness, excitement; and they could find positive meaning – even when highly frustrated. This allowed them to better regulate negative feelings.
Resilient people are aware of situations, their own emotional reactions and the behaviour of those around them. They are able to manage their feelings by understanding what is causing them and why. These people can maintain control of a situation and think of new ways of tackling problems.
Sound like you?… Nope? (And probably a lot of other people.)
So what if I can’t bounce back?
The problem with resilience is that it’s sometimes hard to bounce back. There are just some things that happen that you can’t understand or keep control of. You could have unpleasant or sad feelings but just not know what’s causing them or why you feel them.
There are points in your life where bad things happen over and over again. You just get over one hurdle and another presents itself, before you’ve even caught your breath.
It sometimes feels like we’re all under pressure to be ‘OK’, ‘Fine!’… and get on with our lives. But sometimes it’s just so hard to forget, pick yourself up and try again.
Have you felt guilty if you still feel sad because you can’t talk about what’s getting you down? Do you pretend you’ve bounced back from the sad things that have happened to you? Have you felt pressure to be the happy-go-lucky person you used to be?
What if you don’t have to do any of those things? Feel guilty. Pretend. Be happy.
There’s a way
There could just be some value in taking time to look at yourself. Your feelings, emotions and actions. Look at what’s been happening around you. Things that happened in the past. And kept happening? Recognise that you haven’t bounced back. And it’s perfectly okay.
Sometimes just recognising you haven’t bounced back is a start. You could think about when your feelings of happiness, excitement and joy might have started to fade. You could acknowledge how you feel – sad, angry, frustrated, defeated, ashamed, lonely, anxious?
None of these things are easy to do on your own. It’s hard to work out these feelings. Then what do you do with them once you know what they are?
Luckily, there’s room to talk. You can call us and make an appointment to start to explore what might be hurting, holding you back. We can start to look at some steps to help you through this.