We hear the term ‘resilience’ so often these days and often with hard-edged connotations. But I want to offer a different perspective by looking at the concept of emotional resilience and what it means to me…

I believe that emotional resilience is about learning to be flexible enough to do things differently; to change what isn’t working instead of repeating the same old patterns and about building inner resources to deal with the demands of life. And that we can do this with a softer edge; with self-compassion.


Wouldn’t it be great if emotional resilience could be gained by pulling up your proverbial socks, Pollyanna style positive thinking and looking on the bright-side or bouncing back, as if you were a rubber ball on a string?

The reality for most of us is a 24/7 life where we walk the tightrope of the work-life balance whilst being bombarded by media messages demanding perfection, fulfilled lives and material gain. How did ‘human doing’ become more valuable than ‘human being’? But it has and it’s increasing. If you think we have it hard now, I invite you to think about how the generations younger than you are faring and what the future might look like for them in the face of this.


The result – well the inevitable – running low on gas and running out of ideas of how to change what isn’t working for us. And the biggest paradox of all? Those who appear that they have it all sussed, are often also suffering inside. I see it time and again in my therapy practice.

If only we had time to stop and think about it, we might realise that our emotional resilience to life’s stressors is chipping away.  And our attempts to change or do things differently somehow end up with us back where we started; only feeling worse, drained, trapped or more frustrated.

So, emotional resilience is not about ‘toughing it out’, nor is it avoiding problems or  switching off from them so you can do more, achieve more or win at all costs.


Instead, emotional resilience is about maintaining your emotional and psychological wellbeing as you navigate your life. It is about being able to recover from life’s setbacks, being able to draw on support (internal strength and appropriate external support), being open to trying new approaches and most importantly, the ability to come back to ourselves, to who we are, and ultimately being OK with that. It’s OK to have self-compassion and if you aren’t great at it now, to learn how to cultivate it.

Comments for this post are closed.