From every wound there is a scar, and every scar tells a story. A story that says, “ I survived”. Craig Scott
Many of us have hidden scars which may have developed through adverse life experiences including traumas, bereavement, separation, divorce, disappointments, neglect, abuse, rejection and unmet needs. Our emotional wounds and scars can remind us of our journey and the process of recovery if we allow ourselves to be emotionally restored. However, some choose to remain with their head stuck in the sand through emotional and cognitive avoidance which can avert their emotional healing whilst preventing them from soaring like an eagle in life.
You may be that person who struggles to bounce back from setbacks. However, this can change through making consistent small changes within your mindset which I will outline in this article. Emotional resilience is a powerful aptitude that can be learned and will aid you in addressing and recovering from emotional wounds. Moreover, emotional resilience is a protective factor against stress, anxiety and depression which is unfortunately now pervasive for many people.
I have personally developed my emotional resilience when facing the traumatic loss of my mother and experiencing physical health difficulties which I believed at the time may have affected my fertility due to the medication prescribed. These situations were horrifying and unexpected however I experienced personal growth through focusing on opportunities and remaining optimistic in a dark and arid season.
Resilience can be defined as keeping your head ‘during adversity through remaining calm, sober and having a measured approach to the situation. Resilience has also been described as the Positive adaptation after a stressful or adverse situation (Hopf 2010). Positive adaptation includes successfully adjusting to the adversity and assimilating it into your life.
Emotional resilience is the capacity to emotionally recover successfully from adversity including stressful situations and crises (Pecillo 2016). This is evident if someone may have become depressed following losing a loved one or developed anxiety followed a setback however with time these mental health difficulties will subside and they will return to their premorbid functioning.
Resilience building strategies
Journaling and Self-Monitoring of emotions can help with heightening emotional awareness of hidden emotional wounds and scars. It can also improve your mood which is an empowering experience. It is important to understand yourself before you try and understand others what triggers may reactivate memories of historical emotional wounds and scars
Journaling includes recording daily experiences, feelings and thoughts alongside pertinent reflections which will provide insights into patterns of emotional distress. You can use a notebook, diary, journal or even app to keep your journal. Why not try this for one week and monitor your learning and insights.
Journaling is effective for stress management as it allows you to clarify your thoughts and feelings whilst facilitating problem solving which can aid recovery from emotional scars. Journaling can also facilitate the processing of traumatic events through allowing you to process your emotions and to seek out help in the form of professional support and reaching out to your personal network including friends and family.
Resilient thinking is a mindset that creates advantage and change from adversity and hidden scars whilst also allowing thriving and the development of a growth mindset. Resilient thinking identifies opportunities within challenging and traumatic experiences and is characterized by optimism and a positive mindset. Resilient thinking can also position you to learn and grow from failure which leads to success and emotional growth.
What can you learn from your misfortunes and setbacks? How can you use this to inform future experiences and decision making? Is there anything that you could have done differently? The identification of opportunities during stressful periods and leveraging your internal and external resources can strengthen your resilient mindset and help you to bounce back more swiftly.
Mindfulness can allow you to effectively manage hidden scars through focusing on the present and not dwelling on the past which can lead to rumination and depression. Mindfulness was developed by Jon Kabatt Zin and this approach helps with self-regulating emotional experiences through allowing you to be ‘present’ by noticing your emotional experiences and fluctuations by observing them in a non- judgemental way.
Mindfulness is helpful in many scenarios including the workplace or following a loss or trauma as it can help you to tune in and out of your emotions and to adjust the volume as if it were a radio station The self -regulation of emotions allows you to successfully navigate through emotional wounds and scars rather than becoming stagnant .Mindfulness improves resilience as it increases your repertoire of skills to deal with stress, anxiety and the demands placed upon you in various aspects of your life.
Social support including family, friends, community groups and religious organizations are associated with higher levels of resilience. I acknowledge that my Christian Faith and network of friends and family facilitated my recovery from a parental bereavement. My social support system allowed me to successfully navigate through the loss instilling a resilient mindset and religious beliefs regarding life after death were a consolation during my time of distress and need. Vicarious learning through social relationships modelled effective ways of navigating through setbacks and being resilience in the face of adversity. How can you leverage your social support and network to enhance your resilience?
Research indicates that being connected to your spiritual side is associated with stronger emotional resilience especially if you are internally connected and not just externally. E.g. attending church services. Having a spiritual belief can allow you to find meaning and purpose in adversity which can assist you In successfully navigating setbacks.
In concluding we all have the capacity to be more resilient however we must be intentional with the process. Moreover, resilience can be enhanced through developing skills in being present and mindful, journaling and building a resilient mindset. Furthermore, robust social support and being connected to your spiritual side can also facilitate resilience which can equip you with skills to successfully navigate adversity and address your hidden scars.
If you would like to discover how to enhance your individual or organizational resilience to improve your emotional wellbeing, performance , productivity or increase organizational profits feel free to contact me through my website www.raphatherapyservices.com
Accredited Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, Health and Wellbeing Consultant and Resilience Trainer
(This article has been published in MHMUK 2019 www.mindhealthmusic.com)