My grandmother, Mary, lived a long, full and happy life. She is my role model in many ways and I have lived mostly in awe of her resilience. Her generation were tough as old boots. They could really chew a tough steak, whether or not they had teeth, and rarely complained about anything. However, what they lacked – I feel - was emotional intelligence (EQ) and awareness. They lived by the motto that feelings were frivolous and unnecessary, and that ignorance was bliss. It was a good formula. It worked. Nanna Mary lost her father in World War II, looked after her widowed mother till her dying day, lived in a cave near a battle field (where her husband fought through world war II), lost everything and lived as refugees of war, widowed very young, bore and raised nine incredible children practically alone, had numerous miscarriages, lost children to illness, worked from home to sustain her family, moved homes a number of times, gave birth – at home - without pain relief (HOW?). All this, and yet, she was honestly carefree, happy, alive, vibrant, beaming much of the time. She loved life – didn’t even know what therapy or meds were (not that there is any shame in that). She joked, partied, laughed, played, loved and lived fully till her dying breath (literally telling jokes on her death bed). How did she do it?
I believe that, in this day and age, we have become more in touch with our emotions, with our psychological needs, with our conscious selves and we seek to live life more fully, not only externally, but also seeking the internal richness which emotions and awareness can bring us. We are also trying to raise our children in this vein. The shortcoming of this, I believe, is that with emotional awareness comes pain, and pain without resources, coping skills and resilience, causes an incapacity to cope and thrive. This is what has been fondly referred to as ‘the snowflake generation’, indicating that an overindulgence in emotional and psychological needs, leaves us disarmed, vulnerable and lacking in resilience and resourcefulness. This emotional awakening in fact, needs to be supported by new coping skills, new insight, new learning – designed to teach us that escapism and avoidance of feeling (The ‘Walk-it off’ approach) of our elders, is not the only way.
Research and experience has informed us that the human person is not only capable of surviving transformative trauma’s and challenges, but also capable - and has great potential for - growth after trauma, as difficult as that may be to conceive. There are simple psychological techniques designed to do this.
To start off with, write down a list of all the things that have gone well throughout the last year and how you contributed to that. What pleased you and served you? Allow me to present you also with some questions which may support you to develop a mind-set that will help you, not only cope, but thrive through this. You got this! Stand up tall. Feel your internal human potential – your internal human fire ... and take this head on. If you need a little help – we are here of course.
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