Improving Emotional Resiliency

Emotional resiliency is about focusing on balancing-out negativity. A big part of our negative experience is criticism, whether that be self-criticism or criticism from others. Negative self-talk is designed to protect us, but that’s rarely the outcome and, criticism from others is never helpful. Most of us know when we're about to enter a dynamic in which we will be criticized, and this often creates a sense of dread and impacts our ability to feel positively. One way to limit dread, a major drain on our emotional resiliency and wellbeing, is to be prepared. Knowing how we will deal with criticism and trusting our ability to be effective in the way we deal with it requires rehearsal and practice. Rehearsal works especially well when we are ruminating and playing out scenarios in our mind. By actively rehearsing coping mechanisms, the rumination becomes a self-soothing practice rather than being trapped in a negative thought pattern. An example of this instead of focusing on how we’re going to feel when a negative event or criticism occurs; instead, we can focus on what we will do to cope with those feelings and situations. Knowing what our first step will be is empowering. Taking back our power allows us to know that we will not be left in a place of pain when faced with criticism and negative dynamics.

Sometimes negative dynamics can come out of nowhere, blind-siding us. I advise that everyone’s first step when faced with criticism and negative dynamics is to stop and take a moment. Allowing yourself a moment is a powerful way to change the dynamic. It is powerful because you are no longer reacting. Instead you are giving yourself something that everyone needs in negative situations: time to process. While a moment may not be enough time to fully process, it is enough time to reflect on what you are feeling. What is the underlying message that you are receiving? What are the emotions you are feeling? Understanding your feelings will give you insights into what your next action should be. Are the feelings you are having about external issues or internal ones? Are you feeling upset because you believe that the criticism or negative dynamic is revealing an awful truth about you? If it is internal and connected to a past shame or trauma, you will need more time to evaluate and process. If it is external, then you need to assess whether it is the person, the dynamic, the situation, or a blend. The answer affects how you can then craft your response.

Being able to craft our response rarely happens the first time we are faced with criticism or a negative dynamic. I’m sorry to say this is normal. Another hard truth is that the first time we are faced with criticism or a negative dynamic we will most likely not be happy with our response, and this can trigger ruminating. It’s important to know that once we build the habit of taking a moment, we will limit our dissatisfaction with our response to criticism and negative dynamics. That brief space between how we would normally react provides space for new skills to kick in. That is why we should reshape the rumination to focus on why we did not respond the way we wished we had responded. This approach requires that we consistently choose a different path when situations are similar. If there is an aspect of you that consistently draws criticism, there are two options: change, or embrace that you do not want to change. Once you have made that decision, you can create your response and use rumination to practice and role play it in your mind. Soon rumination will be replaced with rehearsal and the ability to cope with negativity.

Posted on 27 Feb 2023 06:36

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