Written by : Stephanie Bolster McCannon

Building Emotional Resilience When Dealing with Events Outside Your Control

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There is a lot happening in our world today, and these last few years have spun us out of control. Anxiety is high anytime there is added uncertainty. Most of life is uncertain, that we can agree on. However, when our daily routines and the people, events, and circumstances we depend on for consistently are disrupted, how do we cope? The answer is through normalcy and celebration.

Yes, as upsetting as this may seem to some, we must create and acknowledge life’s little joys, no matter how dire the circumstances. What works for you may not be what someone else needs. Can we stay open to allow others the experience and control they choose to create? We can, and our emotional intelligence will help. We can all increase or use our ability to understand, manage our emotions positively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict.

Start with what we can control

Recent events in Ukraine have forced families out of their homes, into shelters, and some into refugee camps. These events are the worst imaginable, and yet some still find life, love, happiness and joy through the smiles, songs being shared, and simple life events that are posted on social media. This is what so many fight for, work for, and believe in. The simple song of a young child being sung in her native tongue brought smiles, tears, connection, and a reprieve from the harshness of their current circumstance.

A small kitten being rescued from a river with a willing participant and a cardboard box. Meals are cooked and shared. Many found care and concern for life still exists in our world. We are not a world only filled with disaster, hardship, and oppressiveness.

There is a great need to find the simplest reason to smile, remember why so many are fighting for life and the life they are fighting for. This all is about what you can control. Often when in despair, we feel we have no control and therefore no hope. What is needed most in our times of struggle is just that, hope. Hope a future exists for us and loved, hope for the simplicities of life.

Embrace all of your emotions

This is not to say we as individuals, a society, and a world should not be reverent or respectful of suffering. We all process pain, disappointment, and disaster differently. The pandemic has created an atmosphere of survival and fear around the world. Many celebrations had to be put on hold, and some never happened. Birthdays, weddings, family reunions, even the celebration of the life of a loved one departed was taken. There has been a lot to feel sad about.

Seeing people gathered in a small room with smiles on, a young girl proudly standing on a chair belting out “Frozen” during a crisis in her country warmed my heart as it did her onlookers and those with her. It was uplifting for sure. We all need moments to get out of the sadness, loss, and suffering. Being happy is a choice. Not one we want to make all the time or feel like we can. But we must keep happiness close at hand. We must provide opportunities for relief, moments of feeling hope, love, acceptance, and joy.

We deal with events outside our control by controlling what we can

We can’t control the weather, but I can plan for an umbrella. We can’t control another’s reaction, but we can control our behavior and make a choice for sharing love and joy. We can’t control a lot of life. This is not new. However, we reduce our frustration, stress, and anxiety by taking action on what we can control. For some, it will be a reminder that life is still good. For others, it will be a donation or a way to volunteer. For others, a vote. What can you control? What can you do that makes you feel just a little better? Maybe it will be watching a cat being rescued, a stranger donating a stroller or youthful reminder of a familiar song.

We can choose to find moments of control, especially through connection and caring of others. We can choose to acknowledge a smile on another’s face and be reminded that there is hope, and happiness still exists.


Stephanie Bolster McCannon is an Organizational Psychologist, published author of BolsterUp!: The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Happy Healthy Human, and CEO of BolsterUp, a well-being coaching company that supports emotional, mental, and physical mastery.

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