The Stoic’s Guide to Emotional Resilience
Emotional resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficult situations and maintain a positive outlook on life. It is an important trait to have, as we all face challenges and setbacks in our lives. One philosophy that has been known to help individuals develop emotional resilience is Stoicism.
Stoicism is a philosophy that originated in ancient Greece and was later adopted by the Romans. It teaches individuals to focus on what they can control and let go of what they can’t control. The Stoics believed that the key to living a good life is to cultivate a strong sense of inner peace and to be indifferent to external events.
“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control.” – Epictetus
What Can You Do?
One of the main principles of Stoicism is to focus on one’s own actions and attitudes, rather than on external events. This means accepting that certain things, such as the actions of others, are beyond our control. Instead, we should focus on how we respond to these events. By doing so, we can maintain our inner peace and emotional resilience, even in difficult situations.
“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” – Epictetus
Don’t Hold Hot Coals
Another important aspect of emotional resilience is the ability to let go of negative emotions. The Stoics believed that negative emotions, such as anger and resentment, are harmful to our well-being and should be avoided. They taught that individuals should strive to maintain a calm and rational state of mind, even in the face of adversity.
“We should always be asking ourselves, ‘Is that is within my control or not within my control?’ If it is within our control, we should take action to improve the situation. If it is not within our control, we should let it go and focus on what we can control.
“The things you think about determine the quality of your mind. Your soul takes on the colour of your thoughts.” – Marcus Aurelius
Notice the Floor of Your Behaviours
One way to practice emotional resilience is to regularly reflect on one’s thoughts and emotions. By being aware of our thoughts and emotions, we can learn to identify negative patterns and make a conscious effort to change them. For example, instead of dwelling on past mistakes, we can focus on what we can learn from them and move forward.
What may be helpful could be to imagine that you are watching your thoughts, and so, do not identify with those thoughts as much. For instance, I can notice myself feeling frustrated without becoming frustrated. It is only a signal, that I get to decide what to do with.
Side note: never ignore the signals, acknowledge them – they are based on your lifetime of experience, just know that your life has not been very long and so it is wise to take the signals with a pinch of salt. You are not angry, but the signals you get in the moment tell you that it may be appropriate to become angry. There is a subtle difference.
Watch Yourself Watching Yourself
Another way to practice emotional resilience is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being present and fully engaged in the present moment. It allows us to let go of past regrets and future worries and to focus on the present. Mindfulness can be practised through meditation, yoga, or other forms of mindfulness exercises.
“The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.” – Marcus Aurelius
Lastly, it is also important to practice forgiveness and let go of grudges. Holding on to resentment and anger can be toxic to our emotional well-being. It is important to remember that forgiveness is not for the benefit of the person who wronged us, but for our own well-being.
In conclusion, emotional resilience is an essential trait to have in order to navigate the challenges of life. By practising Stoicism, we can learn to focus on what we can control and let go of what we can’t control. We can also learn to let go of negative emotions, practice mindfulness, and practice forgiveness. By doing so, we can maintain a sense of inner peace and emotional resilience, even in difficult situations.