When it comes to improving your dating life, there’s one thing that will help you more than anything else: emotional resilience. Emotional resilience, put simply, your ability to withstand, adapt and overcome adversity. It’s what lets you stare rejection in the face and not let it break you. When everything is feels like it’s going wrong and you feel like giving up, it’s that tenacity, that stubbornness, that grit that’s going to give you the strength to keep moving forward. It’s is what lets you roll with the punches life is going to throw at you instead of letting them devastate you.
People with a strong level of emotional resilience are able to overcome adversity and achieve their goals… and that can be you. Inner strength and emotional resilience is a muscle and you can develop yours.
Challenge Your Limitations
Want to know what makes the difference between the winners and losers in life? No, it’s not success – succeeding at something doesn’t make you a winner, nor does failing make you a loser. The difference is that losers define themselves by their limitations while winners challenge theirs. Part of developing your emotional resilience is recognizing that what you think are your limits aren’t always true, nor are they absolutes and that it’s on you to figure these out. Yes, sometimes those limitations in your life are indeed brick walls and there’s no getting past them. Other times, however, you’ll find that you’ll Kool-Aid man through that shit like it was barely even there.
The trick is that until you test them – and occasionally re-test them – you’ll never know which is which. A self-limiting belief looks an awful lot like reality until you take it on in good faith.
For some, it may be doing cold approaches in a club. For others, it may mean being more direct with someone they’re attracted to or finally getting the courage up to ask someone out after having had a crush on them for months or years. It may mean going to parties where you don’t know many people, performing in front of a crowd or simply trying out a look that’s otherwise “out of character” for them.
Challenging your limitations is an important part of building emotional resilience because it forces you to get outside of your comfort zone. You’re pushing yourself into doing things that you otherwise avoid or be too afraid to try. It helps you develop your true self-awareness – knowledge based out of experience not assumption – and gets you used to taking risks. Even if the risk is minor, being willing to take it builds that inner strength. Yeah, you may fail, but that’s part of the point of challenging yourself like this.
Want to Build Your Emotional Resilience? Embrace Failure
Part of the point of building your emotional resilience is to build your sense of perseverance and ability to keep going when the going gets rough. However, the only way to truly build that strength is to test it. You can read all the theory you want, but the only way you’re going to get any real progress is to get out in the field and actually put in the work. You can’t learn to get better at dating without actually going out and trying to date. You can’t learn how to get better at handling adversity without actually facing adversity. That means that you’re going to have to get out and take risks where you know that failure is possible, even likely.
When it comes to dating, failure usually means getting shot down. One thing that ends up holding many people back is that they won’t make a move until and unless they’re 100% sure of success. As a result: they end up passing on opportunity after opportunity. At the same time, they rob themselves of any ability to improve. You learn very little from success. More often than not, you will take the wrong lessons from success by missing the details that failure can teach you – a mental fallacy called “survivorship bias”. It’s where things go wrong that teach you what you need to work on and improve. And you can’t do that without failing. But if you let that fear of failure keep you down or keep you from trying in the first place, you’ll never learn.
The point of this exercise is simple: to start realizing that failure isn’t fatal. Yes, it may hurt, but rarely as much as you think it will. More importantly though: you’ll survive it. And once you realize that you’ll survive it, you can move to the important part: learning from that failure. As long as you let the fear of failure keep you from even trying in the first place, you will never develop as a person or strengthen yourself emotionally. So as you’re challenging yourself, stop playing it safe. Go get knocked down, but get up again. Fail and be ready to fail better.
While you’re working on getting comfortable with risk and failure, you also need to work on what may be the hardest part: changing your mind. Much of emotional resilience is in your outlook and attitude. Part of what gives you the strength to persevere and fortify yourself is, simply, being an optimist.
It sounds absurd, I know. But in study after study, optimists continually perform better than pessimists – even after crushing defeats or serious setbacks. The key is, quite simply, believing that the setbacks are temporary and can be overcome. Pessimists, on the other hand, believe that not only is failure inevitable but that they don’t have the power to affect meaningful change. Because optimists avoid “catastrophic thinking” and choose to see difficulty as something temporary, they’re less likely to give up. They don’t see hardship as out of their control; it’s something they can overcome. As a result: they don’t feel powerless to fix things. Instead, they believe that they can overcome the obstacle if they just dig in and keep at it.
Now that being said, it can be difficult to change an attitude… but it can be done. Part of it is simply to argue with yourself – to literally doubt your doubts. You consciously choose to change the story you tell yourself in the moments of adversity. Challenge the idea that your problem is permanent or uncontrollable. Even if you feel like you’re lying or being delusional, challenging your own beliefs helps develop the emotional resilience to keep trying and to try harder.
You also want to practice positivity. A negative attitude is a habit; it carves a groove in your brain. That means you can break that habit with practice and effort. Taking on challenges like the 7 Day Positivity Test can help you get out of a negative mindset and help dig the positive groove instead.
But another important part of staying positive is to…
Find Your Team
One of the most overlooked keys to building your mental strength is, simply, other people. Having friends in your life is surprisingly important for your physical and emotional health. Spending time with friends lowers your stress levels. It helps increase production of hormones like oxytocin and serotonin in your brain. That boost of oxytocin and serotonin helps you sleep more soundly, calms your nervous system and makes your amygdala calm the hell down in times of anxiety and stress. Hell, some studies suggest that having friends who’ve got your back can make antidepressants work better.
But while having Team You is good on a biological level, their support can also be key in keeping you motivated and on the right track. We tend to be the sum of the people we spend the most time with and that can dictate whether we keep trying or give up. This is why it’s important to make sure you have the right friends in your life. Friends who back you up, cheer you on and pull you back to your feet are a godsend. That positive energy is contagious and it’ll affect your own outlook. At the same time, friends who tear you down (even as a “joke”) or talk shit about other people will drain the life from you. Even if you’re a generally positive person, relentless negativity will take it’s toll on you.
Even when it’s directed at others, that energy can still fuck with your head. If your bros talk shit about the people around you, that attitude will still affect you. It doesn’t matter that it’s that they’re being cool to you. Ironic racism, sexism or generally shitty attitudes don’t become less shitty when you use a knowing smirk. Giving other people shit doesn’t become any less shitty just because someone doesn’t “mean” anything by it. Keep that in mind when you’re on social media or your favorite subreddits: those jokes and jabs might be draining your emotional endurance.
Let Go and Let God (Or The Doctor, Or…)
Sometimes the most important part of becoming emotionally more resilient is learning how to let go. One of the causes of stress in our lives comes from dealing with the fact that we’re not superhuman. There’s only so much that is actually within our sphere of influence and far more that’s out of our hands. There will always be times when our desire to affect change is going to conflict with that reality. As frustrating as it maybe, there is nothing that we can do about it. Which is why part of becoming emotionally resilient means being willing to give up responsibility.
Don’t get me wrong: this doesn’t mean that you’re free to throw your hands up and declare that you’re fucked. What you need to do focus on what you can control and offload the responsibility of the things you can’t control on someone or something else. You can’t, for example, control how someone feels about you. You can put in the effort to be charming and delightful and still come away without a date. You can build the perfect resume, ace the interview and still not get the job. Rather than take on the stress and anxiety of those intangibles, give them to someone else. If you’re religious, visualize God (or Jesus or Buddha or The Invisible Pink Unicorn) taking those burdens from you. If you’re especially geeky, you might imagine The Doctor or the Force taking care of things for you in the background.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the Tao, Mother Nature, the Universe or Joe Pesci. The point is that you get comfortable in letting go of the things you can’t directly control. You do everything you can and accept that the rest is out of your hands. Instead of burdening yourself with things you can’t control, you’ll spend your mental energy on the things that are in your power. That way, you’ll build the courage and grit that will keep you going, no matter how many times you get knocked down.