Transitions: Developing Emotional Resilience

Julia Simens - this week's guest blogger

This is a guest blog by Julia Simens, educational psychologist and author of the book ‘Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child’, contributing author to The Gratitude Project: Celebrating Moms and Motherhood.  For more information about Julia and to read her blog and related articles, go to www.jsimens.com .

The rapidly-approaching summer months will be bringing transitions to many of you: We get transferred, friends change or move; a love one dies, leaves or gets in trouble; a child changes year levels or activities. The list, unfortunately, is endless. 

I have been lucky enough to thrive on change and in fact seek it out. Two children, four continents, seven new offices, seven international moves and ten more places on my ‘to do list’ has given me a unique perspective on what all these transitions do to the family. When unexpected events turn life upside down, it’s the degree to which our resiliency comes into play that makes these ‘make-or-break’ situations an opportunity for growth. The good news: each of us has the capacity to reorganize our life after a change and to achieve new levels of strength and meaningfulness. Though it’s easy to feel vulnerable in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, life disruptions are not necessary a bad thing because they help us grow and meet future challenges in our lives.

So how can you become more resilient?  Here is a look at four key characteristics of people who demonstrate resilience during life’s transitions.

1.    Positive trust

Resilient people rely on their belief in the basic goodness of the world and trust things will turn out all right in the end.

2.    Interpreting experience in an ‘open’ way

The ability to look at a situation in a new way (a skill called reframing) can minimize the impact of a new situation. Resilient people don’t always use an old definition for a new challenge they are creative.

3.    A meaningful system of support

One of the best ways to endure a transition is to have the support of another person who can listen and validate our feelings. It is important to choose people you trust. Don’t be surprised if it takes several friends, each of whom provides different kinds of support.

4.    Have a voice

Resilient people know that ultimately their survival and the integrity of their lives depend on their ability to take action rather than remain passive. Giving voice to your thoughts and feelings leads to insight and helps transform the meaning of a stressful situation into something useful.

Whether you are staying or leaving, these next few weeks you will be saying goodbye – to someone. The first step in this process is to celebrate with the ones that have been a part of your life and start the closure process. Major transitions are a ‘gotcha’ we all experience at one time or another in our lives.  Some transitions are easy to see and know but there are many hidden ones also. Be sure to let your friends know if you are dealing with a  ‘gotcha’ transition.

Preparing your child for the transition

*Julia, being American, often uses ‘gotcha’. This is a very informal way to say “I’ve got you” and it usually refers to an unexpected capture or discovery. It is a common term expressing satisfaction at having captured or defeated someone or uncovered their faults.
 
 

 

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

2 responses to “Transitions: Developing Emotional Resilience

  1. Good tips Julia, easier said than done but in periods of stress and frustrations like a move it is good to be reminded those basic yet vital principles.

    I have been through a very nasty argument with my landlords in Belgium that was ridiculous but upset me a lot. I could not cool down for maybe 2 days then I decided to give up and spend a whole day with my friends, laughing, eating, drinking and nothing was done on my “To Do” list that day.
    The lesson I learned was: I put too much on my plate, my calendar was full of “should do” or “have to” and nothing for fun. Since then I put in my calendar things I love doing like dancing Zumba, walking in the forest and meeting with friends outside my house. I found the solution to stop the arguments from the landlords by putting an expert between us so I won’t need to see them or talk to them until the last day when I’ll give back the keys!

  2. I’m enjoying Julia’s book, and this guest post was a nice addition. Very good points that would benefit all living overseas (or going through any transition, for that matter). Thanks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s