Developing resilience doesn't mean feeling good all the time. Psychological resilience is built through getting good at feeling bad.
It's the ability to take things like anger, grief and sadness and make them useful... Turning lemons into the most refreshing lemonade.
Social media can be a double edged sword for those of us improving our resilience. On the one hand it can be a space to vent and feel heard, and sometimes receive kind responses, that let you know you're not alone. On the other hand it can become a space of rumination, comparison and pain catastophising. You know the posts "when you go for a nice walk along the beach, and are confronted by all of this" [insert photo of a beach covered in plastic rubbish]. This is pain catastophising. Other people will jump on that post, make comments, upload their own photos... instead of picking up the rubbish that so distressed them in the first place. So now all of our walks turn into Rubbish Watch.
The news and media are the epitome of pain catastophising, so if you're not on social media, but you do consume the news; your resilience levels are dropping too.
One of the best ways to increase your resilience, your ability to embrace the lows as well as the highs, is to care about something other than yourself.
I read about a shooting in the 1960s in America. People were getting killed and injured, a guy called John was sheltering from the bullets hyperventilating, gripped by anxiety and fearing for his life. From his hiding place, he saw a pregnant woman who had been shot and injured. Moments ago he was frozen by fear, but seeing her in need of help, he ran out of his hiding place to help the woman. No feeling of fear or anxiety. His actions saved her life.
I sincerely hope we'll never be in a position like that. However, I hope we take the daily invitations to care about something other than ourselves and immediate network.
Anxiety is about the fear of being in pain, and making decisions to avoid future pain and risk. Getting rid of anxiety isn't about removing the risks, it's making the risks worth something. Finding a cause or deeper purpose for your actions.
John didn't get rid of the risk of being shot, he found something worth getting shot for, and that gave him the courage to act.
So... let's agree to feel the full spectrum of emotions, we need to get better at feeling bad. Because that builds resilience.
Let's watch out for the media, the social posts and conversations that promote pain catastrophising.
And let's care about people, beings and causes outside of our immediate network. This has been really impactful. I've received a few messages from students practicing online, that knowing some of their rate goes to charity, has inspired them to practice. How wonderful is that?
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