Loyola University Maryland

Counseling Center

Resilient Emotions

Have you ever been in that spot where you feel such a flood of emotions that you don’t think you can handle one more thing? If so, this page will provide you with some tips and tricks that will give you the Emotional Resilience to successfully ride the wave of your emotions.

What Is Emotional Resilience?

It is the ability to feel whatever you are feeling without becoming paralyzed, ineffective, or destructive to yourself and those around you. 

When you are being emotionally resilient…

  • You are honest about all you are experiencing (e.g. “I’m feeling so angry right now with my roommates…I’m so disappointed in myself for being in this spot”).  You avoid criticizing and judging your emotions (e.g., “I’m so stupid for feeling this way…I hate that I always get anxious before presentations”). 
  • You take action that enables you to quiet negative self-judgments enough to problem-solve and get help when needed. [Tip: You might need the help of a trusted friend or mentor for this if you are new with emotional resiliency.]
  • You open yourself up to all emotions, not just positive emotions (e.g., You allow yourself to feel sad without judgment in just the same way you allow yourself to be happy without judgment; learn about Vulnerability). 

Why Is Emotional Resilience Important?

Things happen that you can’t predict or control.  Unpleasant events will trigger all kinds of emotions and that’s okay.  You’re human.  We all have emotions and it is important to feel them.  You can learn to flow through these times, in a way that keeps you afloat, maintains your relationships, and increases your problem-solving skills.  

What You Can Do

  • Practice gratitude.  Once a day, for 2 minutes, think of/write 3 things you feel good about or are grateful for that impacted your life that day.  Keep it simple.  Keep it brief.  Think about it.
  • When something happens that you don’t like:   
    • Pause. Describe it like a news reporter (no editorials!). Name your feelings. 
    • Identify where that emotion is living in your body 
      • (e.g., Do you feel stress as a knot in your stomach? Do you feel tightness in your chest?).  
    • Breathe in deeply three times for each feeling you are aware of.  
    • Now ask yourself, “Is there anything I must do about this situation right now that would help resolve it in a good way?”  
      • If so, do it.  
      • If not, let yourself sit with the emotion without fighting it.  
    • Experience it and then decide what your next step will be.  [Tip: You might need to talk with a trusted friend or mentor at this point if you are new to this strategy.] 
    • You can also try one of these coping skills to help you tolerate the negative emotion: What to Do with Feelings (PDF).
  • Check out www.self-compassion.org.  This website provides a self-compassion inventory, which will provide you with some feedback on how compassionate you are to yourself.  Here, you will also learn how to break the habit of criticizing yourself when you don’t meet your expectations and to embrace your positive qualities.  
  • Watch this video about the ability to be happy despite unwanted experiences.
  • Practice identifying the specific feelings you’re experiencing, using this feelings wheel.

Journal Prompts for Reflection

  • When was the last time you acted impulsively?  Did that work for you?  What would you have done differently?
  • What are the usual situations that trigger your emotions the most?  How do you tend to respond?
  • Think about a time when something happened that triggered strong feelings.  How did you work through it?  How long did it take for the feelings to subside?
  • Who in your life is best able and willing to talk you down when things feel out of control?
  • How often do you accept your emotions without judging them?
  • How often do you engage in self-compassion?