How to Build Emotional Resilience

This is a guest article by Giang |

How do you become emotionally resilient?  Easier said than done, right?    

Especially since we’re human;

Which makes us emotional beings;

Which means emotional rollercoasters happen.

We fall in love and become emotionally dependent—butterflies in your stomach, turns into loneliness, and feeling vulnerable or insecure.

Emotional rollercoasters are no fun.  Building emotional resilience is the key for managing our emotions when they go haywire.  And with practice, you can learn to ride out the highs and lows. 

First, let’s talk about attachment

Last Sunday evening, I suddenly felt vulnerable after a chat on Facebook.  I’ve had a beautiful friendship with this person.  We’ve had nice conversations, occasionally debating back and forth.  But abruptly, some unexpected feelings crept in.  I realized that I started to be attached to the person.  I couldn’t wait to receive messages.  I even had some jealousy.  The insecurity I started to bear was uncomfortable.

Has this happened to you?  Uncomfortable feelings can develop in many relationship settings.  You may need to become emotionally resilient with an ex-partner or with someone you live constantly with.  It could make the difference between chaos and harmony.  Any relationship where there is a genuine care for one another and be turned upside-down.

Attachment and the need for emotional resilience are extends beyond relationships.  You could feel insecure about the life stage you’re in, or regarding finances.  You could have all the money in the world, and lack of fulfillment still remains.  It shouldn’t be surprising that those who worry the most about money are often the ones with the most money in the bank.

To free ourselves from attachment, we need to understand where it comes from.

The Pursuit of Symbols

Unhealthy attachment happens when we pursue “symbols.”  Deepak Chopra explains:

“Attachment, on the other hand, is based on fear and insecurity — and the need for security is based on not knowing the true Self.  The source of wealth, of abundance, or of anything in the physical world is the Self; it is the consciousness that knows how to fulfill every need.  Everything else is a symbol: cars, houses, bank notes, clothes, airplanes.  Symbols are transitory; they come and go.  Chasing symbols is like settling for the map instead of the territory.  It creates anxiety; it ends up making you feel hollow and empty inside, because you exchange your Self for the symbols of your Self.

At its core, symbols are distortions of reality.  A symbol represents the false idea that your happiness can only come from something external.  For example,  if you base your emotional security on the person you love, i.e., your “symbol,” his or her attention or presence will never be enough.  It will be a very insecure and traumatizing type of love.  While true love equals non-attachment.  As Osho explains, “You will be dancing more and you will become more loving.  Remember, love is not attachment, love knows no attachment, and that which knows attachment is not love.”

When these unpleasant feelings of attachments come, try this:  re-focus your attention to connect with your higher self— the source of wealth, of abundance, or of anything in the physical world is the Self.  The next thing to do is to give yourself some time for the feelings to fade away.  Non-attachment is a state of mind, which we can train ourselves.

Here are five practices you can start to apply:

#1.  Be Aware That Non-Attachment is a State of Mind

First and foremost, we must recognize that attachment, and detachment are states of mind.  “Detachment is a state in which a person overcomes their attachment to desire for things, people, or concepts of the world. He or she thus attains a heightened perspective”

“True detachment isn’t a separation from life but the absolute freedom within your mind to explore living.” – Ron W. Rathbun

This awareness brings us the possibility to observe and train our mind to the state of non-attachment.

# 2.  Acknowledge the Impermanence of Life

To become emotionally resilient, you must begin to live consistent with the natural flow of life.  By that, I mean you understand and respect the impermanence of all life.

Here is a classic example.  A cloud does not exist in a permanent state.  It transforms from being water, snow, or frozen ice.

Emotional resilience is a mirror of the flux of life.  Impermanence is found in all things.

The flux of love and the presence of others.  The possession and loss of any items in life.  But impermanence goes hand-in-hand with the interconnectedness of nature.

Look at your body.  Is it composed of water, that also transforms into a cloud.  The apple that you just ate nourishes your organs; the oxygen that you just breathed from a tree.  You will realize not only the interconnected nature of all things but also the impermanence.

Keep this in mind and you will build a mind of “non-attachment.” It will help when difficult emotions come.

#3.  Identify the Ego

Ego is what we believe we are, externally.  It is the outer shell of ourselves, the self-image of who we are.”

Many negative emotions come from the ego.  Meditation is helpful to identify your ego.  Meditation allows you to observe yourself “silently.”  You can watch any negative emotions unfold and arises from within you.  That is not your true Self speaking.

Meditation shines a light on your entire life.  The ego lives in hidden places.  Uncover the presence of the ego in each area of your life.  This will help you become emotionally resilient.

#4.  Return to the Present Moment

“When you know how to touch the present moment deeply, you touch eternity.  You touch the past, and you touch the future” – Thich Nhat Hanh

When you’re overwhelmed by emotions, the first thing to do is to take three deep breaths.  Return to the present moment with mindful breathing.  It helps you “zoom out” and realize that life is much more than your current worries.

Realize that with each and every breath, you are exchanging oxygen with these majestic green trees.  They are one with you.  Each cell of your body is connected with the sun and the rains that ripen the fruits you ate.  At the very moment you are breathing, you are also part of sustaining the Earth, spinning silently in the immense universe.

Life is much more than our present troubles.  And taking this perspective can help overcome any emotional challenges.

#5. Adopt the Wisdom of Uncertainty

We can easily be shaken by uncertainty and the unknown.  But emotional resilience adopts a different perspective.  When we are emotionally attached to someone or something, we are unconsciously searching for security.  But we should not rely on external things for security.

Unhealthy emotional attachment comes from the habit of forcing solutions; trying to steer things or people toward our desires.  Our expectations become rigid.  But if you adopt the wisdom of uncertainty, you will have “security” by letting things evolve by themselves.  You are awakened to all possibilities.

“Uncertainty is the fertile soil of pure creativity and freedom” – Deepak Chopra.

Embracing the “unknown” leads us to the field of all possibilities.  And if you can be in this state, you’ll never feel emotionally attached to something or someone.  You are open to passions of true living: magic, celebration, joy, and exultation of mind.

To Sum Up, Practice With Me

Practicing mindfulness can help you see deeply in the roots of attachment and help you build emotional resilience. Remember:

  1. You are firstly aware that attachment is a state of mind.
  2. Secondly, you realize and respect the impermanence of all things.
  3. Thirdly, you learn to recognize the ego and the self-image in those feelings, while being fully aware of a higher self where you are as big as life itself.
  4. Fourthly, mindfully return to the present moment.
  5. And finally, adopt the wisdom of uncertainty.

Here are some mantras to try:

  • Today, I’m aware of my feelings and attachment and understand where they deeply come from.
  • Today, I mindfully breathe in and out and recognize the wonder of life around me.
  • I don’t impose my ideas on what needs to be.  I’m open to and accept all as it is offered to me in the present moment.
  • Today, I act in uncertainty.  I know the solutions come by themselves out of confusion, disorder, and chaos.
  • Today, I’m open to indefinite choices.  I will experience joy, adventure, magic, and mystery of life.

Author Bio:

Hey, Giang here! Do you believe you can live a life and career that truly fulfill you? I do! I believe in the next era of humanity where every person is fulfilled from the inside. By simply being mindful, we spread love to other humans, plants, animals, and minerals. Join me on the Mindful Way.

Read more of Giang’s work:

Letting go of anger with mindfulness – 5 best tips

How to make your house more mindful

5 simple ways to love mindfully

Mindful eating to stop overeating – Want to know 3 secrets?