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Resilience: to feel or not to feel?



Myth: “Resilience is being tough or not showing emotion.” Not.


If “tough” to you means not having emotions or not feeling- I dare you to reconsider what resilience is about. Most people's idea of tough is to disconnect from themselves, to distract themselves (so as not to feel), or even to dissociate from their pain. We all engage in these strategies in order to survive difficult circumstances that trigger pain in us. These are coping mechanisms and they can temporarily serve us well in the face of major traumatic events. At times it is all we can do, and they can be useful strategies indeed to help us survive. However, disconnecting from intense emotion can become a habit, and we might find ourselves avoiding any discomfort, conflict or difficult situation.


Once suppressed, many of us do not go back and integrate those difficult emotions. At times, we do not have the capacity to compost trying moments into learning and growth. If we did, we would not shy away from adversity as much as we do. Those repressed emotions stay there, unattended to, and almost become forbidden territory. Parts of us that are cut off from consciousness. Sometimes, a general malaise invades us.


Compounded to this is the fact that memories that are encoded with high emotional charge have more power over us, they tend to get engraved more strongly and be the source of potentially limiting self-beliefs or habits of the avoidance or addictive sort.


In my personal and professional experience, when we suppress our emotions and unmet needs, we actually make ourselves weaker, less able to handle tough things in the future. We are anxious to confront situations that involve conflict or might cause us to feel discomfort. Not feeling is not resilience. Not feeling is usually a lack a self-awareness and a blocking of emotion.


New mindset: Resilience is our ability to bounce back, while going through adversity and being fully there.


The origin of the word “resilience” is insightful. It comes from the Latin resiliens, from re- "back" and salire "to jump, to leap." Thus, resilience is “the act of rebounding or springing back." In a way, resilience is coming back to balance after having experienced a situation that has thrown us off balance. (Online Etymology Dictionary).