What is emotional resilience? It’s your ability to get back up when the stresses of life push you down. It’s how you cope when the tough times arrive. I like to think of it as a spring that bounces back whenever it is squashed down by the pressure that is put on it. I’d like to share with you a few things I learnt on my journey of building emotional resilience.
Earlier this year, I found myself in a difficult situation where I was struggling to balance my life between work, family and other commitments that I had made. I felt like a spring that was being squashed down by so many pressures, worries and expectations. Like many other people who go through this experience, I felt very stressed.
There didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get stuff done. I think the most tiring part of this was that I tried so hard to make everyone around me happy that I did not spend enough time helping myself. And whilst it might seem like a nice thing to care for and think about others, it really drained me emotionally because 1) we all know that you can never please everyone and 2) I didn’t give myself a chance to rest or recharge. My mind was too preoccupied with the world and the people around me that I neglected my own thoughts or feelings.
After a while, I gave up trying to control everything. I just let go of my unrealistic expectations that I had been holding on to for the majority of my life. I stopped expecting everything in the world to be perfect. I stopped expecting the people in my life to be perfect. I stopped expecting myself to be perfect. I began to see the world as it is, not the way I wanted it to be.
Having rigid ideas of how my life should be was causing me to be disappointed at everyone, including myself. Sometimes we burden ourselves with all of these ideas of how things ‘should be’ and we forget that there is a good reason for the way things are right now. (And perhaps we’ll never know that reason. We don’t need to know everything for everything to be okay; it’s all in the Hands of God.)
At one point or another, people are going to leave your life. And the thought of that happening once terrified me because I thought that people only left you if they were disappointed at you. However, after realising that my thoughts did not reflect reality, it helped me to stop being super worried about non-existent problems. The reality is often not as bad as we often think it is.
As the saying goes, some people are in your life for a season and others are there for a reason. Some are a blessing and some enter your life so that you learn a valuable lesson. And just because someone leaves your life, that doesn’t mean it’s your fault. People are just at different stages and they prioritise different things. So when people walked out of my life, rather than taking it personally, I saw it as an opportunity to re-evaluate my priorities. What could I do with the free time I have, now that this person has left? Of course, if you were close to the person who left you, it may be a heartbreaking experience. But why not use this time to pray, heal and grow from the pain? Take this time to invest in yourself; strengthen your body, mind and soul.
It takes time and effort to become stronger physically, emotionally or intellectually. I think in today’s age, as people are becoming more and more emotionally distant, it’s important to take the steps to care for your emotional wellbeing. I truly believe that when you are able to connect with yourself, you’ll feel much better and it will be easier to have a healthy relationship with others.
And remember, being consistent and making little bits of progress is a lot better than taking a huge leap but giving up after one attempt. A teacher of mine once said something that I hope will stay with me forever, ‘we are people of the process’. Life is a process. Being in the process of life is not about getting everything right. It’s about making mistakes and learning from them. It’s about reflection and trying your best. Trying your best is more important than trying to be perfect. The best version of you isn’t perfect; the best version of you makes mistakes, but stays committed to making progress, one step at a time.