Friday, November 12, 2010

Emotional Resilience

Copywrite: Francesca Arnold, 2010
In the past I have been guilty of perhaps underplaying the value of emotional resilience. Following the research in the Foresight report, 'Mental Capital and Wellbeing', we can picture our minds as being like bank accounts in the following sense...
Living in ways which enhance our wellbeing means that we are banking mental health assets; assets which, when the set-backs life deals hit us, can be called upon and 'spent'. In other words, in hard times mental capital allows us to cope, and in better times it allows us to flourish.

I am mindful of this because of a simple everyday incident which I experienced earlier today. I was in a supermarket, buying some milk. There was an unattended push-chair in the aisle. I calculated that I would just about be able to get through the gap, so I sidled my way past. As I went I inadvertently nudged the pram with my bag. In response, the mother of the baby in the pram began to shout at me. 

A few years ago I would have been devastated by this incident. It would have rolled around, being replayed in a hideous squirming loop in my head for ages after. However, having been using the Five Ways and 'banking' that mental capital I was emotionally resilient enough to deal with this incident calmly. 

Instead of panicking I walked back towards the irate parent and apologised thus:
"I'm so sorry. You see, I sometimes forget how fat I've become and I simply miscalculated the space available to me. Is your baby okay?" 

Imagining myself into her place, I can quite understand her anger at some seemingly indifferent lunk-head barging his way past her baby. Fair enough. I'm glad to say that the baby was fine, and the mother was placated. Indeed, we even shared a smile at that point. And, of course, there are so many other alternative futures which might have been played out if I had chosen, say, to give her verbals back. In this instance we both walked away with our brain chemistry restored and even - dare I say! - enhanced. 

These daily interactions are the stuff of which our lives and societies are made from. Our choices in how we conduct ourselves are important. When it comes to nurturing wellbeing my advice is, act locally. Sometimes it doesn't take a lot to change things for the better.

Thanks for taking the time to visit me here. 


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