Resilience Emerges From Acknowledged Emotional Wounds

Resilience emerges from acknowledged emotional wounds like water appears from a warm spring pool.

When we experience grief in life, we often feel that we must suppress this and be seen to be coping. I want to take a moment to mindfully look at the journey of grief and how suppression is not the best way to manage this emotion.

Elizabeth kübler Ross propounded five stages of grieving, which are ‘denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance’. This can be best applied to people going through anticipatory grief, where it is known that a person is dying. Yet ironically when it comes to acknowledging the loss of someone we cared for, we often become stuck in a denial phase with our grief.

You may wonder how this topic finds it’s way into a positive psychology website, but to me, looking at hard topics is the cornerstone of this new and flourishing branch of psychology. Just as positive psychology is not the previously perceived ‘stock phrases’ made up of happy exclamations and blind optimism as some have perceived it, grief is not the harmful dark cloud we often see it as, if we handle it in a way which allows for growth. Positive psychological theories when used with this in mind can promote growth even in grief.

To be in flow is to be in movement, and to be in movement is converse to being stuck, so look for flow even in grief, maybe through painting, writing or any form of creativity. If we use loving kindness on ourselves when we are in grief, if we do not suppress but allow ourselves to check in emotionally, we get in touch with our grief and experience it. Then we are far more likely to catch the upward spiral that Fredrickson talks about which is said to to be linked to positive affect and broad-minded coping. Resilience is born of struggle, and acknowledging struggle is to recognise we may need a little help to own and manage this experience.

We then move more easily to our stage of acceptance, which doesn’t mean we don’t care, it means we are managing. The journey of grieving is not measurable, and progress can be like a tango, back and forth, but when we allow ourselves to recognise this, shift happens!

Growth comes from movement yet resilience doesn’t mean that we have moved on, it simply means we are coping and heading towards flourishing, even in grief.

When we remember this, we are kinder to ourselves.

About The Author: Caralyn Cox is one of the first people in the UK to hold a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) from Buckinghamshire New University.  Her research interests are savouring and its application, mindfulness and resilience.  Caralyn is a wellbeing practitioner and utilises her BSc (Hons) in Psychology with her knowledge base from the MAPP to enable clients to find their best version of themselves through her company ‘Best of you’ life coaching’.

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