Emotional Resilience Article originally from February 23rd, 2018 FPC Newsletter
Written by Angel Santiago
One day a young lady was driving along with her father. They came upon a storm, and the young lady asked her father, what should I do?” He said, “keep driving”. Cars began to pull over to the side, the storm was getting worse.
“What should I do?” The young lady asked? “Keep driving,” her father replied.
On up a few feet, she noticed that eighteen-wheelers were also pulling over. She told her dad, “I must pull over, I can barely see ahead. It is Terrible, and everyone is pulling over!” Her father told her, “Don’t give up, just keep driving!”
Now the storm was terrible, but she never stopped driving, and soon she Could see a little more clearly. After a couple of miles she was again on Dry land, and the sun came out. Her father said, “Now you can pull over and get out.”
She said “But why now?” He said, “Because I want you to look back at all the people that gave up and are still in the storm, because you never gave up your storm is now over.
This is a testimony for anyone who is going through “hard times”. Just because everyone else, even the strongest, gives up. You don’t have to…if you keep going, soon your storm will be over and the sun will shine upon your face again.
Emotional resilience refers to one’s ability to adapt to stressful situations or crises.
Resilient people are able to “roll with the punches” and adapt to adversity without lasting difficulties; and have an easier time with stress and life changes, both major and minor
Resilient people do not let adversity define them. They can transcend pain and grief by perceiving hard times as temporary. They understand that hard times have a meaning and a purpose; that they come to strengthen you, to grow you, not to destroy you. They provide an opportunity to confirm/re-affirm your belief in yourself. They come to test and prove, to yourself, that you’re a capable and competent individual and this fortifies and helps you develop a sense of self.
To be resilient is to be prepared for emotional emergencies, that you’re able to accept whatever comes at you with flexibility rather than rigidity. There’s a metaphor that says that resilient people are like bamboo in a hurricane – they bend rather than break. Even if they feel like they’re broken for a time, they know it won’t be broken forever. They know it will pass.
One of the Key Traits of Emotionally Resilient people is they cultivate self-awareness.
Self-Awareness is defined as conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires. Basically, knowledge of self: strengths and weaknesses, vulnerabilities and passions, and quirks. It’s to know thyself.
Self-awareness comes in many ways and from many sources. It can come as self-insight – a sudden epiphany – which can happen at any moment and any time. It can come as a result of success and/or failure, during changes in life, and/or stressful moments. It can also come from the feedback we receive from or by taking a strengths and personality test.
Being ‘blissfully unaware’ can get us through a bad day but it’s not a very wise long-term strategy. Self-awareness helps us get in touch with our psychological and physiological needs—knowing what we need, what we don’t need, and when it’s time to reach out for some extra help. The self-aware are good at listening to the subtle cues their body and their mood are sending.
“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”
Another Key Trait of Emotionally Resilient people is they’re willing to sit in silence and practice Spirituality.
This was the #1 thing that a research study found on people who overcame tragedy. We are masters of distraction: T.V., overeating, abusing drugs, risky behavior, gossip, etc. We all react differently to stress and trauma. Some of us shut down and some of us go from 0 to 60 in seconds. Somewhere in the middle there is mindfulness– being in the presence of the moment without judgment or avoidance. It takes practice, but it’s one of the purest and most ancient forms of healing and resilience building.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Mindfulness helps us put some space between ourselves and our reactions, giving us a much needed head start to choose our responses wisely. Mindfulness is available to us in every moment, whether through meditations and body scans, or mindful moment practices like taking time to pause and breathe.
Here’s how to tune into mindfulness throughout the day:
- Set aside some time. You don’t need a meditation cushion or bench, or any sort of special equipment to access your mindfulness skills—but you do need to set aside some time and space.
- Observe the present moment as it is. The aim of mindfulness is not quieting the mind, or attempting to achieve a state of eternal calm. The goal is simple: pay attention to the present moment, without judgement.
- Let your judgments roll by.When we notice judgements arise during our practice, we can make a mental note of them, and let them pass.
- Return to observing the present moment as it is. Our minds often get carried away in thought. That’s why mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the present moment.
- Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts creep in, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, return to observing the present moment as it is.
That’s the practice. It’s often been said that it’s very simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. Keep in mind that the challenge and the struggle is part of the work. So show up and just keep doing it.
I’d like to leave you with this quote by Hara Estroff Marano, Editor-at-Large for Psychology Today. She wrote in her article “The Art of Resilience”:
“At the heart of resilience is a belief in oneself—yet also a belief in something larger than oneself.”