Are you emotionally tough enough?

Some might say that if one has never faced some form of hardship one cannot become resilient or strong. I would agree some of us may be sheltered but the world is such that chances are, we will tackle something nasty sooner or later. 

The question is can we face up to it and deal with adversities in a calm grounded way that doesn’t rock our emotional boat? I call this state of congruence, fluidity. Fluidity is a combination of possessing resilience, and stoicism. 

Psychological resilience is the knack to positively survive a crisis and to regain emotional composure rapidly. It exists in individuals who cultivate self-awareness and good psychological practices that permit them to remain calm during traumas and confusion and to move on from the situation without on-going destructive thoughts and feelings.

“The generally accepted modern day definition of stoicism is to persevere with discomfort, adversity and suffering without exhibiting emotion or complaint. I’m afraid this sounds a little like denial to me. ”

Zeno of Citium, an ancient Greek stoic philosopher, taught that ‘the wise’ live in accord with the divine reason that governs nature, and are unconcerned by the fluctuations of good luck/bad luck, and to pleasure and pain. This definition brings us a little closer.

My form of stoicism, or fluidity, is where internally and independently you sit securely within yourself and you are less concerned with matters beyond your control. You have a genuine authentic reality regarding your self and are abundantly conscious of your frailties, strengths, vulnerabilities, less than lovely qualities as well as your well-regarded talents. My experience is when operating in arduous circumstances the ensuing upset doesn’t overly distress you; indeed, it is often minimised to become irrelevant, enabling you to proceed with a little short-lived blip rather than an enduring major crash. 

The American Psychological Association suggests "10 Ways to Build Resilience”:

  1. to maintain good relationships with close family members, friends and others;
  2. to avoid seeing crises or stressful events as unbearable problems;
  3. to accept circumstances that cannot be changed;
  4. to develop realistic goals and move towards them;
  5. to take decisive actions in adverse situations;
  6. to look for opportunities of self-discovery after a struggle with loss;
  7. to develop self-confidence;
  8. to keep a long-term perspective and consider the stressful event in a broader context;
  9. to maintain a hopeful outlook, expecting good things and visualising what is wished;
  10.  to take care of one's mind and body, exercising and regularly, paying attention to one's own needs and feelings.

“Whilst all great stuff, this is a long and demanding list and for most an unmanageable challenge. ”

I often use the three ‘F’s” mini mantra, which is not a complete answer, but it’s handy:

Flexibility replacing Fixity promotes Fluidity

1. Flexibility is where you have a relaxed, acceptant and grounded attitude to what happens and how it happens. You look at things in a composed, mindful and almost imaginative way.

2. Fixity is being stuck in your ways; narrow minded, stubborn, inflexible or rigid in your thoughts, outlook and behaviours.

3. Fluidity is when you are faced with a difficult or challenging situation and it doesn’t upset you internally and you deal with it evenly and realistically.

Adopting fluidity as a way of being requires self examination, forthright honesty and humility, but eventually can help deliver an internal peace where you feel just right, a place that is distinctive to you – your unique contented balance; an inner resilience and stoicism.

Shane Lutkin is lead Therapist at Emotionalskills

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