Woke up this morning thinking about winning. Not in the generic “I’m winning in life” or “I’m adopting a winning attitude” sense. But … full on actual winning. Taking someone on and beating them. To the ground. Leaving them writhing in a bloody, pulpy mass of WTF confusion. (Not literally … but metaphorically … maybe …
March 5, 2013
Still processing everything that happened over the past few days. So much happened and yet I was calm through the whole thing. It got me wondering … what makes a crisis a crisis? I guess there are some pretty obvious and indisputable examples that everyone would agree are crises (pandemics, natural disasters, the cost of housing in vancouver, etc.). However, what about those day to day things we all go through? What is it that causes us to be impacted differently by similar experiences that we go through at different times in our lives? Why is it that two different people respond differently to the same experience? How is it that I came through last week without completely melting down?!?
I think it has something to do with resilience. Psychological resilience is defined as “the ability to bounce back from negative events by using positive emotions to cope”. It is strongly correlated with positive emotional granularity which is defined as “the tendency to represent experiences of positive emotion with precision and specificity”. Hmmmm … a theory with merit methinks. When I look back to last week, it really could have (maybe even should have) gone another way. My defences were actually quite weak. I was operating on very little sleep and almost no food. Work was (is) super high pressure as I am trying to wrap up enough stuff to go on vacation with a clear conscience in a couple of weeks. I wasn’t running or getting to yoga. The sky was grey and gloomy and wet (we all know how much I love that). Someone I love was in a lot of pain and there wasn’t really much I could do to relieve his suffering. I felt helpless (we also know how much I love that). I was trying to be in a million different places all at once and was hyperaware of the potentially nasty consequences my decisions could have.
Still … despite all of that … I coped really well.
Is it completely narcissistic to quote yourself? Even when you are doing it to process your own thoughts? Well … yesterday I said “the fact that the week began with 56 hours straight of pure delicious fun and multi-layered connection certainly helped. I admit to going back there in my mind during the darkest of hours and most stressful of times.” So … I think that counts as positive emotional granularity. Seriously … whenever things were really bad I would consciously flashback to the delicious moments I had at the beginning of the week. I’d stay there in my mind for a few moments and would then come up for air and dive into the situation at hand. It helped and made me feel stronger. I was able to summon up optimism and stay rational even when the chaos was swirling around me. I was able to appreciate the absurdity of it all and even see humour in situations that might have otherwise been just dark and icky and stressful. I suspect this takes practice. Apparently talking about your positive emotional experiences in detail makes the impact even stronger. I love this idea because, of course, it supports one of my other favourite theories … the tremendous power of narrative. In my case, I think I’ll keep the details of this specific positive experience to myself. But … in general … I’m going to try doing that more often. I am way more likely to reach out to my friends and family when I am confused or anxious or in pain. They get all the gory details of that stuff. I’m going to be more conscious about sharing the details of all the great things that are happening in my life. (I can hear all of them breathing a collective sigh of relief right now … think they need a bit of a change.) I think it will build my psychological resilience and buffer me against future stressors.
So … there you go.
I read this article and thought it made a lot of sense. Read it. Just do it. Seriously. You’ll be smarter when you’re done – www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1201429/.
cast of characters
myles (bub) – the creative / funny / smart 17-year-old who lives with me, my stepson
This was an … um … interesting week that brought many emotions and experiences. In no particular order, it included: biting my own knee gypsy tears red beer three tap outs spying on a guy doing gymnastics two ferry trips a medical clinic and an ER room #1609 same bed / separate beds / same bed …