What IS “emotional resiliency”?”
I’ve spent more than 20 years researching holistic and natural approaches to anxiety. I’ve come to realize that when we practice these skills and techniques on a regular basis, we can build up our emotional resiliency so that whatever comes our way, we can “roll with the punches.” We cannot control what goes on around us (situations or events). What we can control is whether we choose to react or respond to it.
There’s just a split second after the action where we get to decide whether we react (as we always have) or respond ( a new behavior).
The reason so many of us immediately jump to reacting is because of how we are wired. We are still wired with the “fight or flight” system, just as we were back when we lived in caves and needed to be aware of saber toothed tigers. Back then, we need to take flight as soon as we perceived danger – it truly was a matter of life or death. In current times, however, we are constantly being bombarded with things that trigger us into that same behavior and it’s like we have our foot on the gas full throttle without ever letting up.
Neuroscience and emotional resiliency
Neuroscience says that “neurons that wire together fire together”. What that means is that the more we repeat an action, the more “hardwired” it gets into our brains. Until recently, it was assumed that as we get older, our brains become fixed. The great news is that neuroscience has discovered that our brains are a lot more malleable (think Play-Doh) that they thought!
There have been studies that tested people who had never played piano. During the test period, half the group actually practiced playing piano scales and chords, while the other half only imagined playing the piano. Both groups showed changes in the brain!
How this translates to emotional resiliency is that, just like learning any new skill or habit, when we consistently practice simple emotional resiliency skills and techniques, we can wire in new patterns. Just like Michael Phelps and Yo Yo Ma had to practice and practice and practice, over and over again, we need to practice and practice these new skills until they become a healthy new habit.
One of the many hats I wear is as a certified yoga teacher. In our physical asana practice, we are constantly falling out of balance and bringing ourselves back into balance. We can do this emotionally as well! We have to practice, practice and practice some more, so that when an unpleasant or stressful situation or event occurs, we can choose in that split second whether to react of respond. When we continuously choose to respond, that becomes our new natural behavior. We will all face crisis and stressful events – it is a part of the human condition. When we have built up our emotional resiliency, we are much less likely to revert back to our old habits of reacting.
In our 33 years of marriage, my husband Michael has had a front row seat to my dance with anxiety. He has been through many job losses. The last one was such a different experience for both of us. This time, instead of me freaking out and stressing out, I practiced what I preach and when my husband walked in the door he was greeted with a hug and “we’ll get through this together.” (I’m happy to say he went on to a much better job!)
My emotional resiliency not only helps me, it helps everyone I connect with.
I write more about this, along with 35 holistic, natural and scientifically proven techniques to build emotional resiliency and overcome anxiety in my book “Goodbye Anxiety, Hello Freedom.”
I invite you to download 5 of the skills techniques in my book: CLICK HERE for your free copy. I’d love to hear how they work for you – please comment below!