Emotional resilience refers to one's ability to adapt to stressful situations or crises. More resilient people adapt to adversity without lasting difficulties, while less resilient people have a harder time with stress and life changes.
Emotional resilience is not something we either have or don’t have, although some of us are born with a little more of it than others. It is a trait we can develop and strengthen or ignore and atrophy. Just like almost anything in life, the energy and effort we put into practicing it will determine the results we get. Divorce, with its heightened overall stress level and constant crises is definitely an opportunity to grow our emotional resilience and as a result create a better chance for happiness and contentment than ever before.
As diverse as they come, emotionally resilient people have certain thought patterns, behaviors, and actions in common, we all can learn, practice, and with time make them our own.
Emotional resilience starts with acceptance of life as a whole. Taking the good with the bad. Understanding and accepting that pain, stress, trauma, adversity, and tragedy are all part of the mixed package of this life. Things happen to us what we don’t choose or sign up for and sometimes there is nothing we can do to prevent them or make them better. Emotionally resilient people don’t have unrealistic expectations about life. They have learned to take life on life’s terms and not expecting that everything will play out the way they want them to. This is a crucial concept for divorce. Mostly for those of us who did not choose to walk down this road but rather felt forced onto it. Learning and practicing acceptance is the only possible way to have peace and to walk through the divorce process with sanity intact.
Heavy emotions, like pain, dispair, and grief, are hard to endure. We want to fight them, run from them, make them go away. Emotionally resilient people have learned to deal with strong, seemingly negative emotions. Not by ignoring them, hushing them away, trying to fix them, or covering them up with anger, but by going through them with grit and endurance. Grit doesn’t mean teeth clenched, forcing our way and will through emotional distress and anguish, but having perseverance, keeping our hope, and focusing on long term results, like the person we want to become. The average length of a divorce is around one year, so endurance is a must. Just like physical endurance training, developing emotional grit requires the support of rest, nutrition, and community.
Emotionally resilient people are flexible but not in a going with the flow without thinking way. They are good at considering all the options and possibilities, being open to them all, and choosing wisely for themselves. They are also comfortable with uncertainty and do not feel the overwhelming need to know all the answers and solutions all the time. There is so much uncertainty during divorce, often times it’s hard enough to figure out the next right step. Holding onto a fixed idea of how everything should be and should go is futile and can be devastating on the long run. Flexibility requires letting go and being open. The best solutions and answers come when we are willing to look for them outside of our preconceived ideas and or even outside of ourselves.
So much of our mental state, our moods and attitudes depend on noticing the good. Emotionally resilient people trained themselves to notice all the good around them and to be grateful for them. There is always, always, always something to be thankful for. Even in the midst of an ugly and painful divorce. Even on the worst day, when everything seems to be falling apart into chaos and all we see is darkness and ugliness. Training our senses to see, smell, hear, feel, and taste the pleasant, enjoyable things in life, as tiny or insignificant as they might be, and training our brains to constantly remember and be grateful for the things that are actually going well in our lives. Keeping a gratitude journal or having an ongoing gratitude list is a great way to develop this truly life giving trait.
Emotionally strong and resilient people have learned healthy interdependence. They have functional, working, strong, supportive relationships where they freely give and receive emotional support. They know how to lean on people around them without being codependent, and how to reach out for help without manipulation. They are not ashamed of their troubles and they don’t isolate in times of suffering. They don’t expect others to rescue them or fix their problems but they know whom they can rely on for love and support. They have built caring, trusting, loving relationships around them. They have a home team. There is nothing more essential in divorce than having a strong home team. People who are on our side and have our best interest in heart. People we trust and we can be honest with. People who will walk with us through the whole process no matter what happens. Trying to go through divorce without a strong support system will not just prolong the process but will unnecessarily multiply our pain and suffering.
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