Updated: Dec 27, 2021
With Resilience Coach & Psychologist Angela Karanja
Resilience is that mental strength and agility that can enable you to live a truly triumphant life.
Resilience is the triumph result and/or outcome in the face of challenges or threat, whether this be real or imagined.
The best discovery in my field is that because resilience is a mental muscle, anyone can develop this and therefore no one is disadvantaged.
Developing resilience is a process that involves developing the following three mental skills.
The 3 Rs; Recognition, Response and Reframe.
This process can be an easy and fast one for some people who’ve assimilated it and learnt it in their environment especially in early years and if their main care givers modelled resilience as well as supported them to develop this mental strength.
For some people though, especially in today’s world, it is highly unlikely that they were exposed to childhood experiences which demanded the development of resilience or had models who demonstrated how to contend with challenges. In some case if these early care givers did, they hid the fact that they were going through challenges it and never talked about it openly and therefore never taught or helped younger people to understand this resilience building process.
The positive thing is resilience can be learned by understanding the workings of the brain and mind too, thus can be learned consciously.
Here are the 3 Rs of developing relentless resilience.
The 3 Rs of building relentless resilience are
And these can be taught, easily understood, and then practiced and mastered.
My take on those who will make history and not be marked by history following this pandemic is; those who choose to consciously address and process the events that have hit the world.
Those who are willing to Recognise consciously look at the events and identify the thoughts and feelings associated with these events; - which are mostly negative. Think of the deaths of people, the economy and for the young people the disruption of their peer relationships and their schooling years. These events are likely to be remembered with negative feelings of fear, defeat, and hopelessness.
In the recognising stage of building resilience, we understand that these feelings of fear although valid, weaken our ability to hope and have trust the world. So, the first thing is to recognise them as just that; feelings that weaken us neurologically, psychologically, and biologically.
Response: Traditionally and biologically we have been made to believe that when faced with challenges and stresses like those of the pandemic, there are only two ways to respond. Fight or flight. However, we know in neuroscience that there is another F, Faith. Responding to these frightfully negative experiences not by withdrawing and getting depressed nor fighting them and feeling aggressively angry but making a decision to face them with faith. A feeling and believe that somehow things will turn out ok.
Reframe. Reframing the thoughts and feelings associated with the events so that we are not storing these as unhealthy emotions in our memory but are storing them as processed and healthier emotions. Because as van der Kolk’s states; the body keeps the score. If we store them as negative feelings this is what causes trauma and in neuroscience and biologically, we know that the body remembers and that is why people have PTSD.
A conscious implementation of these 3Rs is going to go a long way for anyone that is willing to live a healthier life during this pandemic and even after.
This 3R process is a practice that I personally have had to practice following the many calamities that have befallen my life. I have also been teaching teenagers for many years how to practice the 3R process in order to delete adverse feelings in their brain and body so that they are not stored in the body as trauma.
Those who triumph over trauma are practicing this process whether consciously or unconsciously.
Those who will triumph and make history and not be marked by history will be those who process these events in this healthier way following the 3Rs of Resilience.
Angela Karanja is an adolescent psychologist, parenting teens expert and youth empowerment coach.
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