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Practices for Emotional Resilience

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” –Buddha

With the frenetic pace of the holiday season behind us, it is a good time to take a step back and make time for some dedicated self-love practice. The most challenging and significant relationship in any and every life is the one you have with yourself. It is the foundation for all the other relationships that your life holds and, in fact, dictates both your capacity to love and be loved by everyone else. Seeing through this lens, it is clear that the circumstances and relationships on the outside are a mirror of the peace or turmoil that is present within my relationship with myself. 

Becoming one’s own friend or belonging to oneself is another way that this is described. But as easy as it sounds, many of us are continuously plagued with a sense of unworthiness, like a primal wound that is built into our genome. It can become so unconscious that this false sense of self takes on a trance-like quality that layers over our encounters in the world. It is disarming when we recognize how many ways our self-doubt leads us away from our true self and the subtle misperceptions of events and relationships in life.

And yet, the challenges we experience in life and with ourselves are the most potent fuel for our own personal development. Even the smallest moments of accepting ourselves and life as it is provide a new way of seeing. We all know how true it is that “What we resist, persists.”

3 Ways You Can Transform Your Everyday Doubts into Resiliency

In ways that we often don’t see, we become attached to the parts of ourselves that we cannot accept, and likewise the more we push something away or run from something, the more our sense of self is linked with that experience. Surrendering to the truth of your experience is a crucial tool to make meaning out of it.

1. Use Challenging Moments as Fuel for Greater Self-Compassion

Making meaning out of our lives and how we relate to ourselves is the path to emotional resilience. Everyone faces challenges, but how we live inside of those challenging times defines us more than the hardships themselves.

Perhaps the most profound gift of really witnessing our own pain and accepting it is the way that it cultivates our hearts to be more compassionate.

  • Try this: Give up judgment of yourself or your situation at least once a day to become capable of a whole new level of empathy. When we do this, we are never alone in our hardships; there are more people than we know who are struggling like us all around us.

2. Intentionally Seek Out Joy in Small Pleasures

Another powerful mechanism to practice for more emotional resilience is to create a daily habit of noticing the joys of small pleasures.

For me of late, it is the hummingbirds that come to my newly hung feeders. But it can be anything, the beauty and scent of flowers, the taste of a new ice cream flavor, the rediscovery of an old favorite novel.

  • Try this: Allow yourself to savor the small moments. This creates balance while facing hardships and challenges. And it helps you realize that life is never all one way.

3. Honor Your Strengths on a Daily Basis

Learning how to give yourself credit for your effort and strengths is a powerful way to turn the tables on the old wound of not being good enough.

When things are really hard, noticing all the ways that you are more courageous than you thought helps you to see yourself in a new light. Likewise, recognizing your own efforts helps you be kinder to yourself and others.

  • Try this: Make a list every night with five reasons you are strong enough to handle what is going on in your life. This can turn your harsh critic into the curious friend we all need in times of challenge.

The Sustained Courage That Resiliency Brings

Freedom is not an escape from painful feelings; it is having the room to experience them and move through them. The moment when our life circumstances are flipped on their head is when we can witness, even briefly, the advantage that this hardship has brought us. Seeing differently takes practice and effort, but when you get a glimmer that all the pain and struggle has reshaped you into a stronger and more resilient version of yourself as well as created a legacy of courage and meaning for the people you love, life takes on greater meaning.

Thousands of years ago, Euripides wrote: “There is just one life for each of us: our own.” There is no greater happiness or more clear route to love than the devotion to being oneself as authentically and compassionately as possible. It is the first love story.