I’m writing to you today because I want to get in touch with you again and to have more of you in my life – because right now, I miss you…
I see you out in the world and you are quite ‘the thing’ now aren’t you? You are bandied about in corporate circles and trotted out for magazine articles and so you’ve become very fashionable of late and I wonder if you have time for me anymore, so I’ll put my own petty predispositions to one side and unashamedly reach out to you instead.
If I think about what you are, I can chew up a dictionary and spew out a definition of you: Emotional resilience is having the ability and resources to adapt to difficult emotional situations or surprises. When you are emotionally resilient, you are more able to accept such situations and better able to adapt – rolling with the punches of life, rather than being knocked out by them.
Interesting that I should start sprinkling boxing analogies in there… But not surprising, because I have of late, starting feeling that life has been punching me in the stomach a little too often…
I like to think of myself as a strong person, but woman cannot live by thoughts and preferences alone. As an observer of mankind and myself – womankind – the kind of woman who watches and tries to lovingly learn; I have noticed how I am subject to the rhythms of my life. So I am deliberately putting some time aside to analyse the waves of those rhythms and to decide whether to swim, surf or take a boat across them. Frequently you, see, I seem to be drowning in them; so it is time to traverse, rather to tread water. What I wonder is going on with me that seems to weaken my resilience, and what steps can I take to consciously build it up again?
So if I look at myself and where my life has taken me recently – there are both external and internal considerations. I made a big change to my work / life path around 9 months ago and I realise that I am still adjusting and balancing all the options around that. I am, I now realise, missing certain elements of that old life that filled me up emotionally and psychologically, and I want to redress the balance.
The first part of that process is to be really sure of who I am and what I want to bring to the party of life. So here is my Soul Manifesto: I want to earn a good income, doing work that supports others and enervates and pushes me. I want to go beyond existing and paying bills – to a state of feeling fulfilled. That involves putting positive energy into my corporate work, my coaching and my writing.
When I am clear about what I bring to each of these activities, then that clarity gives me a surety and strength in myself; and means then that I am not so desperately vested in the misaligned words, actions and opinions of the players and partners around me – all with their own agenda; but rather that I understand what these are, and so I dance with rather than deal with other’s demons – doing a do-si-do and a step to the side, rather than an intense one on one tango.
To be honest with you, dealing with my own demons is hard enough work and I cannot serve my soul’s purpose if I am drawing daggers with other people’s devils… But frequently I forget this and find myself out there with them in the boxing ring. So I’m standing there, thinking I’ve got the friendly audience and the outfit just right and that I’ll execute a few nifty and graceful shadow moves, when… Blam!!! Suddenly and without warning I am punched hard in the stomach by my opponent – who I thought was actually my partner. But no. Biff! Duff! Thwack! Now the punches keep raining down on me, even though I am now knocked out and lying on the sawdust strewn floor finding it hard to breathe. And then I realise that I am actually beating myself up. For the love of… Ouch!!! I can’t decide which kind of punch (internal or external) is more painful…
I’m also out in the audience, watching myself from the side lines – shouting encouragement one minute, then counting to ten the next, and I think ominously that this woman on the floor has a physical disadvantage as well as an emotional demon to fight…
And that demon / disadvantage or whatever you may call it is the menopause. I feel that I haven’t weathered it well. My hormones have raged and rampaged over my life for some years now and I feel like the layers of strength and learning that I have built up around my heart have been eroded away. It is as if my emotional resilience has been burnt out – has given up, along with my body, which has been fighting the transition with all the indecorous furore of a bull in a china shop. And I’m left, naked to my emotions and therefore open to the various blows that circumstance and psyche will inevitably rain on my heart.
Out in the audience, as I watch myself sitting up slowly, with the moths of pain and pity flying round my head (instead of cartoon birds and stars), I walk over to myself and whisper in my ear, the same things that I tell my coaching clients…
“You are sitting up, you are breathing – you are safe. Acknowledge the pain – accept it and that you are in it, for now. This too shall pass. See it for what it is and choose what you want from this. Choose to learn and if you feel that you are beyond choice, then ask yourself what you would choose if you could and ruminate on those thoughts – even disassociated choice will heal and change the psyche. Analyse and accept what has happened. Don’t fight it with recriminations, angry self-talk, and victimised surmises. The surmises that equate to you making up tales and stories – ‘but they did X / I always Y, oh why, oh why’ etc.)… This is just your mind creating tall tales, it is not your reality, so change the ending. Fighting (in whatever form it takes) is always painful, so take off the boxing gloves.
It is always tempting at times like these to drug the pain – with tablets, wine, television or whatever our real or psyched pharmacy of choice is. But instead of drugging – how about distracting instead? Take a walk, take a break; breath deep and a get a change of scene and perspective – even if that is just walking into the next room.
Find a supportive friend, colleague or coach who will be a positive sounding board. Get it off your chest. Then listen – to them, and most importantly to your self – that self that goes deeper than those perceived punches in the heart. What is really going on here for you – what is the lesson to be learnt?”
And sometimes at this point I’ve seen myself and clients snap right out of it and of course, at others, it takes a little more energy to be able to get back on your feet.
Out of that imaginary boxing arena now, these are the two vital underpinning elements to bolster emotional resilience:
Firstly – consciously keeping the right company. Not just running to someone to moan and unload, but being part of a group/community where you give and take. Somewhere where you learn and teach. For some this family and friends, others combine this with being part of communities like Broadband Consciousness or Damsels in Success – any number of options are out there and available for you to explore.
Secondly – keep up a routine of self-development practices. Read the right books (and given your situation, the choice of these will change); learn to meditate, and journal. Get a notebook and as a minimum – write out 10 things / reasons / situations / people every day to be grateful for. What can you be grateful for in those emotional punches..? This is training your brain to find positive thoughts and is ultimately building your resilience.
These two practices become even better if you combine them with getting a deeper level of support from a coach or counsellor – work through your stuff – not just in times of crises, but as a matter of course / routine. Please don’t tell me that you cannot afford the time or financial investment that this will involve. There are many forms of support out there – from free to expensive. A lot of what you choose (including doing nothing) will depend upon your concept of value, but where ever there is a will, there is a way, so find the right resources to invest in yourself.
A constant positive self-analysis along with supportive guidance, is a powerful combination. The external support means that you have a wealth of resources to draw on. The inner practices – that you can be more simultaneously wise and resilient, because you keep up a constant and conscious practice – meaning that you become humble enough to keep learning, and quiet enough to let the answers come to you, all in in their own good time.
How you do all this is part of this process, you will inevitably experiment with what works best for you and don’t think that you will find one easy source for all this support. By varying what you do, you will strengthen what you do – as with most things in life – don’t put all your eggs in to one basket.
So, my friend Resilience – of course in clichéd fashion, I find that you have been with me all along – I had just forgotten you, but knew secretly too that you were always there within me. And if I have been stripped back, and emotionally laid bare, then all to the good – it is time to build myself up again – to be better, and to be more. Always of course, with a little help from my (internal and external) friends.
So now, my emotional vulnerability becomes my learning and of course my ultimate strength and turns back in to my emotional resilience.
Thank you my friend, for all that you give me: the love, the learning and the strength to serve – myself and so too then, the world.
Yours, with dancing feet and dry eyes…
PS: Did you know that a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, exploring all the facets of loss, love and life in all their gore and glory? This is love seen in every aspect of the life that I live. In it you will find the dark and the light of love, in a way that will make you think, entertain you and let you know that you are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ by Sandra Peachey, from book websites any where in the world, including on Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)…