How many times in a week, a month, do you find yourself thrown by something you weren’t expecting: a negative reaction to something you said; someone being awkward when you were expecting co-operation; an extra meeting put in the diary in the space you were going to use to catch up – the list of possibilities goes on and on!
An aspect of emotional intelligence that we don’t often pay attention to is our emotional resilience when something unexpected happens. The word resilience means originally to bounce back
It is so easy to get knocked back in our culture. We tend to see the world as conspiring against us anyway, and so fall too easily into self-pity and being a victim of circumstance. This is not because we are naturally pessimistic, but because we are surrounded by confirmation of the cultural belief that most things don’t work in our favour, unless we are very lucky! The media, the news we are given, our everyday comments on events, all suggest that the world is not on our side.
Resilience has a foundation in the belief that things do work out, and that we can have control of how we live our lives. Although you may have evidence given to you that this is not true, when you stop and examine your history, you will realise that there is also evidence that it is true, that things do work out as often as they don’t if not more so.
The belief that things work out is very useful, because it prompts you to find a way to make things work, no matter what happens.
This doesn’t mean that you have to be happy about everything that happens, or positive – that would be being a victim again. After all, resilience is bouncing back – you need to fall or hit the wall first!
When we develop emotional resilience, we react differently.
a. We forgive ourselves if our initial reaction is negative, and just let it go.
b. We pick ourselves up and get on with things, just like a child who has fallen over when learning to walk
c. We take a deep breath and choose how to respond to the situation, in a way that leaves us feeling OK with it.
d. We consider what the learning is for us in the particular circumstance, and actively take the learning.
So this month, take a little time to develop further your emotional resilience:
- Take an example where life dealt you an unexpected blow in the past. What have you/could you learn from it, in a positive sense?
- Identify 4 ways in which the world has conspired with you, by offering you unexpected changes that were useful to you.
- As you receive some ‘knock’ this month, stop and go through the process stated above.