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Emotional Resilience

Four Ways to Bounce Back

  1. Watch your thoughts. When something bad happens, do you blame yourself and imagine disaster? Try to catch these thoughts, says Reivich, so you can rework them into self-talk that buoys you up instead of weighing you down. For instance, if you're taking a course and receive a "D" on your first paper, you can call yourself stupid and decide you're going to flunk, or you can see the grade as a clear indicator that you need to study more and perhaps let your husband handle dinner the next time you have a paper due.
  2. Give yourself credit. People often find it easier to take responsibility for their failures than for their successes, says Reivich. When things go well, many people attribute it to luck or someone's kindness. Resilient people do the reverse. They attribute failure to factors beyond their control and give themselves credit when things go well.
  3. Get happy. The more positive experiences people have on a regular basis—laughter, hugs, time with loved ones—the better they fare when trouble strikes, according to studies coauthored by Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To build your happiness reserves, think of five things you can do each day that give you pleasure and do them. Go for a walk at lunchtime. Romp with your dog. Take the scenic route home. Filling your days with small pleasures provides a big boost to your well-being.
  4. See the silver lining. When difficulties come your way, remind yourself that dealing with setbacks builds your resilience. "Rising to a challenge reveals your abilities," says Haidt. "It can help you discover strengths you never knew you had. As a result, your sense of who you are shifts. You begin to have more confidence in your ability to overcome obstacles because you've done it once and you know that, if necessary, you can do it again."

Rejection Rx by Hannah Storm

After college I wanted to be a sportscaster. I'd had many internships, but I couldn't get hired because of my gender. How did I handle the constant rejection? I stayed focused on my goals. My dad always said, "Don't look at the odds against you. Just one person needs to believe in you." This helped lead me to a groundbreaking career as a sportscaster. It was a struggle but worth it—especially knowing I was fighting for all women who chose the same career path.


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