An Emotional Resilience Definition And 5 Ways To Build It

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An Emotional Resilience Definition And 5 Ways To Build ItTo many of you, perhaps most, 2020 continues to be the most challenging year in your memory, defined predominantly by the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, you may be searching for an emotional resilience definition so, here it is together with 5 ways to build it and rebound confidently.

Resilience is not well understood, starting with the question: Is it a skill you learn or something that you are born with? Unless difficulties and challenges have presented themselves to you, you probably have not given the term, emotional resilience, much thought. 

There is no need to start to panic. You are not alone.

Whether or not you are considered to be resilient has nothing to do with a psychometric test or where you were born. It is directly tied to how your life has evolved. You see, it is only by working through adversity and “hard knocks” in life that you develop emotional resilience. 

Understanding Emotional Resilience


There is a simple way to summarize what this backstage competence is. To help you determine where you are positioned, allow me to ask you these questions:

  • Do you struggle to bounce back from challenges, stress, unpleasant events and tough situations?
  • Do you hold on to experiences and find it difficult to let them go and move on?
  • Is forgiveness something you find hard to extend?
  • Are you inclined to allow situations to cause you to bow down, retreat, give in and succumb to defeat?

Answering “yes” to any or all of the above questions, may require you to examine your resilience to determine how much effort you may need to invest in becoming more adaptable, solution-oriented and, well . . . tougher.

There is a myth that if you are resilient, you will not fail. That cannot be further from the truth. Not only do persons who are have resilience strength fail but, they come out of the situation learning from it and actually thriving.

They use the experience, as challenging as it may have been, as a launching pad towards something better and greater. In other words, they quickly adapt to their situation and recover from the adversity, making any changes necessary to return to solid footing. 

Resilience can be learned and strengthened, just like every other behaviour. Let’s look at 5 ways to get you building those adversity muscles. 

1. Clear Your Mental Attic


Clear Your Mind

There could not be a better starting point than clearing your mind. Resilient people do not harbour distress and do their best to manage it and let it go. No cluttering.

Distress is a cancer that feeds on your energy. It penetrates your mind, emotions and body and prevents you from living in a healthy and rejuvenating space. When you are resilient, you manage this aspect of your being fearlessly. You make no apologies for putting up borders and taking control of what you allow in and out.

Instead of allowing negative emotions to take control, when you apply resilience, you try to understand the situation. You look for the sense, reasons and lessons. This approach helps you to keep your emotions calm.

When you are calm, you thinking clearer and you are better able to act without impulse. Impulse can cause destructive reactions and start a domino effect that makes the situation worse.

Being able to act while effectively managing your emotions is a key aspect of maturity. It demands that you are flexible and solution-oriented. 

2. The Glass Is Half Full


Being emotionally resilient means that you embrace change with a positive perspective. You have the ability to change your perspective of a situation and see a positive outcome. An important activity here is your relationship with yourself.

You understand that there is a difference between failure and failing. Failing is a stepping stone. An opportunity to learn and make a better, more experience attempt to get it right.

The Glass Is Half Full

Instead of beating yourself up and speaking with dismissive and negative language such as, “I am no good.”, you change the script and say: “ I can do better.”

The glass is always half full for someone who is resilient. Your optimism helps you to see the bigger picture and you view a bad occurrence as something temporary, not a permanent thing that provides no options.

When resiliency is strong, you do not play the “blame game”. When difficult lands on your lap, you take responsibility and place accountability where it belongs. This helps you to work through the situation with grace and with your self-respect intact.

Practicing the Law of Attraction comes naturally to someone who is resilient. There is no room in their DNA for allowing even a tiny crack of negativity to creep in. Once you allow that, it may become very easy to leave a window or door open and soon, you are no longer in control. 

3. Know Thyself


There is a simple tool that is very effective when it comes to understanding yourself and your relationship with others. It was developed  by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in 1955. It is called Johari Window

Johari Window

To be resilient, it is important for you to know as much about yourself and your behaviours as you can. This is where your experiences with difficult situations and challening times will help you the most. During those time you are tested and stretched and you learn how to adapt without breaking.

This knowledge and ability can serve you well by making you more mature and stronger. You would have walked many roads before and would therefore have a wider frame of reference. You will become more reliable and dependable, with fewer surprises.

When others would be inclined to react negatively or to become anxious about an outcome, you are able to tap into your experience bucket and faciliate a more positive and meangful outcome. You can be seen as the strength that anchors in the storm and who quickly moves into the position of recovery.

There is an admirable self-confidence and assertiveness that accompanies resilient behaviour, causing it to be described as a behavioural artform. 

4. Strong, Quality Relationships 


It does take a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to feed an adult. Our needs are so dynamic that it is impossible to achieve and progress on our own. We need peope in our lives but not just any people. We need people who will support us, encourage us, keep us grounded to what is important and who will be there to help us work through those painful times. 

More than the tough times, you also need to nuture relationships with people who will celebrate your successes and accomplishments with you and be genuinely happy for you. Too often, you may find yourself in competition with persons who you thought were sincere but really there for their own benefit.

Sincere Relationships

Having caring relationships is a key element in resilience. Knowing that someone “has your back” and that you are not alone gives you a different energy to face your life events. When you have a few of these types of relationships in your network, family and not, you feel encouraged, loved and better able to strengthen your resilience.

Sincere relationships do not judge you when you reach out for help. They recognise that this is a sign of strength rather than weakness and are happy to extend support. 

5. Practice Self-Care


This is perhaps the most neglected aspect of maintaing your resilience. Self-care and personal well- being are often not a major or number one priority. Like many, if not most, you may slip some self-care in when time permits rather than give it the recognition and importance that it deserves.

Life demands get in the way of self-care. The children, work, spouse, taking care of the home, studies, the need to have more – these are all external demands that keep you away from investing time into yourself. Resilience emanates from a place of calm, maturity and balance. Without effective well-being, it will be an elusive dream.

Self-care does not have to be expensive. Actually, many of the simple things in life that feed our inner well-being are free and provided by nature. Activities such as:

  • watching the sun rise or set,
  • talking a walk,
  • enjoying a cup of coffee or tea,
  • laughing with a friend,
  • journaling,
  • listening to music,
  • meditating and, 
  • exercising.

These are all excellent ways to feed your soul, strengthen your mind and bullet-proof your emotions.


Becoming more resilient means improving your emotional intelligence. It has a direct impact on the quality of your relationships and the level of success that you will enjoy in your life as you progress through it.

Once you are self-aware, empathetic and adaptable you can successfully work through and survive many of life’s crises because you have all the skills and support that you need. You kow how to lead yourself, solve problems athat you encounter and, if needed obtain the help that you may need.


Do you want to learn how to become more resilient?

Leave a Comment below and let us know your thoughts on emotional resilience, what resonated with this article or, how we may be able to support your growth and development.

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