“Wow, you’re so well put together! How are you so strong that nothing ever gets you down?”
It isn’t uncommon for emotionally resilient people to hear something along those lines. To the outside world, they’re doing exceptionally well and radiate strength everywhere they go.
However, it isn’t cold-hearted power or a naturally brave spirit that keeps resilient people going.
It’s actually the complete opposite – they simply know how to use the “soft” things in life (such as gratitude and self-compassion) as fuel to keep moving forward.
Want to know more? Here are the 7 things emotionally resilient people do every day.
1) They regulate their emotions
“Oh, so they just tell themselves to suck it up?”
No. In fact, great emotional self-regulation could be described as the opposite. Instead of pushing your feelings down and avoiding them, you face them straight on.
This doesn’t mean you should shout when you’re angry or have a breakdown each time you get nervous. What it means is that you know the right self-soothing strategies to release the tension in your body and let your emotions pass.
If you’re anxious, shake your body or dance to your favorite music.
If you’re angry, go for a run or punch your pillows.
If you’re sad, cry a river in the restroom and then go back to work.
Emotional resilience isn’t about being in complete control of your feelings. It’s about knowing how to deal with them when they arise.
Most of all, it’s about understanding that all emotions are fleeting sensations in the body – they aren’t here to stay. They don’t rule you.
You are the sky. Your feelings are the clouds. It will all pass.
2) They move their body
I know you probably don’t want to hear this – “exercise more” is such an annoying piece of advice, isn’t it? – but moving your body in a way you find enjoyable really is one of the best ways to release stress and feel better.
Emotionally resilient people know this. They know that everything you feel and think is stored somewhere within your body, and while your emotional states come and go, your body stays.
And it needs an outlet. It needs to move, shake, dance, push, pull, run, stretch.
Try to do something every day, even if it’s just a short walk around the neighborhood. Your body will thank you, and you’ll have better clarity of mind.
3) They practice gratitude
Based on research, gratitude is linked to higher levels of resilience and a lower risk of stress.
When you recognize how much you already have, be it fulfilling relationships, a roof over your head, or your past accomplishments, it becomes much easier to withstand failure and feel grounded within yourself.
Some of the strongest people I know take note of the good things that happen to them. What’s more, they know how to savor those feelings and sustain their happiness for longer periods of time.
Rick Hanson, Ph.D. calls this the practice of “taking in the good”. He explains that our brains tend to fall prey to the so-called negativity bias, which means that negative experiences overpower positive ones.
It’s essentially a survival strategy. If your crops fail, you’re in serious danger; if they don’t, you get to go on with your life as before.
While the latter is definitely nice, the first is a real life-threatening tragedy.
When you stop to truly take in the positivity around you, though, you’re actively fighting the negativity bias and priming your mind for optimism.
4) They look for magic everywhere
So, how do you savor the good moments in life?
You turn even the mundane of things into magic. Personally, I love romanticizing the hell out of my life. Give me a good movie soundtrack and a seat on a train, and I’ll feel like I’m the main protagonist of a coming-of-age movie.
Seriously, though. Emotionally resilient people are optimists, which is why they manage to pick themselves up each time they fall.
They know that despite all the cruelty in the world, there is just as much beauty.
And the more you focus on those magical moments – the sunlight streaming in through your window, laughing with friends until your bellies hurt, watching a squirrel climb a tree, you name it – the more powerful that beauty becomes.
It’s a bit of a cliché to say it’s about the little things, but…it truly is about the little things.
5) They accept reality as it comes
When it starts raining, most people run to hide or don’t venture outside in the first place.
I’ve lived in Scotland for the past five years, and if there’s one thing this country has taught me, it’s that rain is just an inevitable part of life. I don’t mind getting my clothes wet because…well, it’s just water, isn’t it?
Acceptance is the foundation of resilience. There are things within your control, and then there are things you can never change.
And that’s because it’s not your place to change them. Your job is to adjust and keep going.
As the psychologist Viktor Frankl said:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
6) They see every minute as a chance to turn things around
“Ugh, I was late to work and forgot my lunch this morning. Today’s horrible.”
Is it? Or are you making a mountain out of a molehill?
I mean, it’s 10 AM. You still have about twelve hours before you go to sleep. Are you really going to spend that time moping around because your morning was a bit rubbish?
Nah. You won’t let life get you down that easily. You deserve more than that.
If your morning’s bad, noon becomes a clean slate. If something bad happens at 3.30 PM, you can do a small thing that lifts your spirits at 3.45 PM.
Don’t wait until tomorrow to live life in a way you enjoy. Every minute – every second – is a chance to start again.
Resilience is about turning the page and starting a new chapter each time you need it.
7) They devote a part of the day to their well-being
That’s all it takes. Five minutes of meditation, five minutes of mindfulness, five minutes of yoga, five minutes of reading a book you really enjoy.
And if you have more time, take it further. Devote half an hour to self-care every day. Bring your whole focus to yourself. Check in on how you’re feeling. Journal, have a bath, do a body scan – whatever makes you feel loved and relaxed.
Why is this so important, I hear you ask?
Because when you give yourself the time of day, you’re signaling to your mind that your well-being is a priority. You’re effectively saying, “I deserve to feel good.”
And this is perhaps the most important factor of resilience: the belief that you are deserving of success and happiness, that you are worth the effort.
So, show yourself some compassion. Show yourself some love. Show yourself that you are worthy of everything good that is to come.
And then go and get it.