I am a former Navy SEAL, and work on training SEALs in my current role. When you look at the tactics employed by Navy SEALs, you would notice a fiery determination to stay the course — even when hit by serious difficulties. SEALs learn that an inability to rebound quickly from failure can have crippling consequences. Grit, formed from mental toughness and emotional resiliency, is a by-product of training through failure, while expecting to win.
The bottom line is that emotional resiliency is a necessary ingredient of success for anyone working toward lofty goals. Here are a few tips to help you develop strengthen your resilience. Though these steps are simple to understand, they take extreme discipline to master. Here they are:
Step 1: Learn to witness the negative emotional reaction as it arises.
Next, observe the root emotion beneath it.
Step 2: Examine that root emotion to experience it fully.
This helps to ensure that you are avoiding denial or transference.
Step 3: Intentionally transfer the negative root emotion to a positive counterpart.
For example, you can turn fear into courage, anger into commitment, jealousy into appreciation, shame into pride, and despair into surrender. Admittedly this step takes great patience and willpower, which are part of this practice.
Step 4: Finally, engage the new emotion with self-talk.
This action blocks the old emotion from returning. It helps to divert your attention away from whatever drama caused the reaction to begin with, and focus on something positive, such as a teammate in need.
The positive momentum developed from this process will carry you to emotionally resilient territory. Let me use a personal example I wrote about in my book Unbeatable Mind: Forge Resiliency and Mental Toughness to Succeed at an Elite Level.
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, I was quoted in a newspaper article that focused on the way SEALs were being employed in Iraq. I thought I was having a casual conversation with a friend (who happened to be a journalist), and did not consider that he intended to use me as a source (my bad). He used my name and rank in the story to make it appear an official statement — one that was critical of the then SEAL leadership.