Emotional Resilience During the Toughest of Times

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Connie Ragen Green — Emotional Resilience During the Toughest of Times

My mother described me to others as being a “sensitive” girl as I was growing up. I allowed my feelings to be hurt (this is a re-frame of decades of believing it was others who were to blame for intentionally hurting my feelings) and as a result I was often unhappy or melancholy, or at least quite pensive. When I began to take full responsibility for everything that occurred in my life at age 50 I found that I had developed an emotional resilience to the degree that my life unfolded in a way that could now serve me, and that it was retroactive to 1955, the year of my birth.

But the world can be cold and cruel at times and I have since discovered that it is entirely up to me to feel like every day is a joyous gift from God that can be morphed into thoughts, beliefs, actions, and results of my choosing. Warren Buffet says that we must never make a permanent life decision based on temporary feelings and that this precept is the secret to success. In effect, emotional resilience is the key to our success.

On October 8th, 1992 I sat on the edge of my bed at North Shore Hospital in Miami, Florida and wondered if I was near the end of my life. It was a Thursday morning and I could hear the scrub jays squawking in the gumbo limbo trees in the grassy area not far outside my window. I yearned for the freedom they had as they went about each day. Then I sank down into the reality, or at least the perceived reality of my life on that day.

With a diagnosis of Stage 3 breast cancer I was a mess and knew I’d have to dig deep to find something to grab hold of to pull me up and out of the dark hole I was in. I did find it and what I discovered has given me the strength to survive any situation I encounter and to help others on their own life journey. It’s all about regulating our emotions every day, dealing with them and compartmentalizing that which can be saved for later.

Having the ability to regulate emotions means responding to all levels of emotional situations in a way that helps you rather than hurts you. The development of this skill will lead to more resilience by providing a way to feel emotions without letting them control your behavior. This is emotional resilience at its best.

The inability to regulate emotions leads to insecure relationships and shame because it doesn’t directly address the core emotions. Working on emotion regulation will help you identify emotions and react to situations in a reasonable way. It will help you address what is causing your suffering without engulfing you in negativity.

Right now is the opportune time for you to do this. The economy is at a standstill, and record numbers of people around the world are without work or the means to bring in any income. These are chaotic and uncertain times. Times that will test your emotional resilience. Times that will break you by injecting fear into your heart and mind or make you strong so you can carry on without missing a beat. It’s up to you and depends upon your belief system and your faith in the universe to always come through for you.

Will you make a permanent decision on temporary feelings? Or will you be resilient and stick to the plan? Stick to your goals? Your mission? Your beliefs? You’re not born emotionally resilient, but you gain emotional resilience with time and practice. Learning to push through and deal with whatever life throws at you is possible for anyone. You just need to be prepared to train your mind and body to do this.

The inability to regulate emotions leads to insecure relationships and shame because it doesn’t directly address the core emotions. Working on emotion regulation will help you identify emotions and react to situations in a reasonable way. It will help you address what is causing your suffering without engulfing you in negativity.

There are a number of things you can do to strengthen your ability to regulate your emotions. A great way to begin this practice is by implementing a concept called “cognitive reappraisal.” This involves changing your perspective on a negative situation into a positive one. It’s the re-framing I described earlier, when I changed the way I thought about my childhood and took full responsibility for how I felt at times. Looking back I realized that seldom had anyone said or done anything to me intentionally that was negative. Instead, I read into people’s words and actions something that landed on me as being unkind and hurtful. This cognitive reappraisal changed everything and suddenly I had happy memories from my early years that made me laugh and smile and be filled with joy!

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It’s easy to assume that the worst thing possible is going to happen. We tell ourselves stories about people and statistics and events, and what the future holds for us. It’s easy to wonder what the next unfortunate thing will be. But this habit creates unnecessary suffering and frequently leads to further negative emotions rather than good ones. It’s impossible to mind-read and we cannot tell the future, even when politicians and even scientists are talking and writing about our future throughout each day. By attempting to do so, more frustration comes and it’s difficult to handle. Instead, look at the situation objectively to consider other scenarios.

Be careful of how you interpret words and looks and actions from others. Be mindful in how you allow what is in front of you, in person or from the media to swirl through your mind. Thoughts are things and you must protect yours at all times so your behavior isn’t unduly influenced. Instead of assuming anything about what might have caused this situation, you can pause to take a step back and re-frame your perspective. By thinking of these things differently, you’ll feel your anxiety lessen and your emotions will not turn into something too powerful to keep track of.

When you find that you’re feeling strong emotions, you don’t have to push them down and tell them not to exist. Embrace the feelings and explore what’s coming up for you as your emotions surge through every cell in your body. You can conquer anything life throws at you if you honestly believe you have it within you to exhibit courage and strength. For you to do this, you need to level up your leadership. Lead the way for those who are unable, or unwilling to take this on themselves. Leadership, backed by emotional resilience is the solution to everything, in my humble opinion. Leadership, backed by emotional resilience is the solution to everything.

I’m , pushing forward and leading the way with emotional resilience as my trusty steed. I’m ready to lead and serve, now and always, with an open mind and a giving heart. along your life’s journey?

Online marketing strategist, author, speaker, and publisher working with entrepreneurs on six continents.

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