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Let’s start with the definition of resilience before we speak about it further. Wikipedia defines resilience as the ability to positively cope with stress and adversity or challenging negative situations. It’s seen as a process more so than a personality trait. So that means it can be developed by anyone at any time, and it doesn’t happen overnight. This is important to know. Starting with today you can develop resilience and build on the resilience you have created so far.

This is how thinking ahead to a certain degree and knowing how you will deal with negative situations (peer pressure, family conflict, difficulties in school, stress) becomes very beneficial. It’s about staying true to yourself and not allowing yourself to become vulnerable to the extent that you compromise your own values when it may be harder to think clearer.

You need to know what de-stress strategies you will implement, and who you will turn to when you are having a difficult time. What are you going to do when you are feeling angry, frustrated, disappointed, sad, and/or depressed? How are you going to react in response to these feelings? Before we get into techniques on how to work through feelings and stressful situations, let’s think about some different types of situations that you or friends could potentially find yourself in.

At some point, you will most likely be faced with circumstances that make you question yourself, your values, and then you will need to make decisions related to these scenarios. These could be concerns associated to peer pressure, drugs, smoking cigarettes, being responsible and not drinking and driving, obeying the law, friendships, dating relationships, family conflict, and/or your education. If you know what decisions you will make before you face the scenarios mentioned above, then you will be better prepared to handle the emotions and pressure associated to these intense situations.

Let’s talk more about managing stress. Rita Schiano, stress management instructor/resilience coach, said that one tactic for managing your stress is to strengthen resilience skills and attitudes. In order to quickly bounce back from crises, you need to deal with your emotions, as well as be flexible in your thoughts and actions. I definitely agree with Rita on this, and actually this brings to mind one technique that I implemented that literally saved me growing up! Allow me share it with you.

The way I dealt with emotions growing up in the chaotic environment that I really couldn’t escape, was by allowing myself to feel the emotions I was feeling – anger/resentment to sadness/disappointment, to frustration and to even moments of happiness, so I could acknowledge it and release it. The way I did this was by finding music that matched my mood. Then I would sing and dance to express my emotions, and get it all out, while in my bedroom that I shared with my two sisters. Most of the time, I would do this alone. However, sometimes I would be with my sister, Amanda, and with friends singing and dancing our emotions out. By embracing my feelings, this made me recognize that emotions and moments change and nothing stays the same. It’s important to feel emotions and not go through life numb to everything around you, because life is about living and the reality is there will be ups and downs in life.

Keep in mind, that the strategy I shared above is just one way of dealing with intense emotions and perhaps you are more of an athlete and work out your stress during practice, or you depend on your friends and/or family and chat about what is bothering you, or you are artistic and prefer to create something, or possibly you prefer to write about how you are feeling and keep a journal instead. All of these methods are perfectly fine and healthy ways to get out your emotions. I encourage you to find what would feel most natural to you as a way to show your emotions. The key here is finding a healthy way to express yourself rather than giving in to negative ways of coping and risking your life or anyone else’s.

To this day, I still use this dancing and singing tactic, and now I also have theme songs to get me focused and energized to follow through with what I want to accomplish. I want you to recognize you are stronger than you think, and you can get through whatever decides to show up and create an obstacle for you and your goals. It’s your life and you have a choice – decide to be resilient and self-determined! So with that in mind, I’ll leave you with some lyrics from Kanye West and Christina Aguilera that relate to Resilience.

Kanye West, Stronger

Work it, make it, do it, makes us,
Harder, better, faster, stronger
Now that that don’t kill me
Can only make me stronger

 Christina Aguilera, Fighter

Cause it makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
It makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter
Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter

Discussion – How do you express your emotions in a healthy way? I would love for you to share with me what works for you or what you think you are going to start doing.  Leave your comments in the section below. Let’s help each other come up with creative and different ways to feel our emotions and not be afraid of them. Allow us to build resiliency amongst each other!

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