What Would Make You More Emotionally Resilient?

09 Jan 2019

 In all my years working with survivors of emotional abuse, not one client has ever said, “You know, Annie, I want to be more emotionally resilient.”  Rather they tell me, “I need to have more confidence. I need to be stronger and braver. I need to stop loving – or hating – my partner.  I need more clarity. I need to get over my depression. I need to sort out all the practical problems I face before I can possibly think about what I need.”   You see, they focus,  on Resolutions rather than resolution.

This is why being emotionally resilient is SO underrated

Nobody seems to recognise the value of emotional resilience –quite possibly because they have had it programmed out of them from a tender age. However, emotional resilience really is vital to your healing. It is one key aspect of resolution of old pain and old, damaging relationship patterns.

Wherever you are along your healing journey, if you feel that you are stuck and there has to be more, then emotional resilience may well be one key missing piece of the puzzle.  In this article, we shall be looking what gets in the way and how you can become more emotionally resilient.

But let’s start at the beginning.  You probably grew up in a family where some degree of emotional abuse was “normal”.  Plus, you were, likely, a sensitive soul.

Sensitivity is catnip to abusers

Sensitivity really is catnip to abusers of all persuasion.

As a sensitive soul myself, I have no doubt that sensitivity is a great quality.  However, the big drawback to sensitivity is that it can leave a person unshielded from the slings and arrows of toxic communication.

Your sensitivity means that abusive people can shoot their arrows at you with a high chance of hitting the bullseye.  Every time.  Your sensitivity provides them with a super-size target.

Since there is nothing abusers abhor more than a fair fight, they do everything in their power to ensure that you do not develop robust defences.  That includes telling you, repeatedly, how weak, pathetic and inadequate you are.

Abusive brain-washing

Correctly speaking, that kind of behavior deserved to be labelled as abusive, destructive brain-washing. 

By the time we meet our Narcissistic, abusive partner, we have most likely undergone years of that kind of brain-washing.  Even if you have not, an abusive partner will use their considerable expertise to exploit your sensitivity and undermine your sense of your own worth as a human being.

The relationship between the sensitive empath and the astute abuser is a ghastly fit between the person who focuses on the best in their beloved and the partner who fixates on the worst – whether or not that worst really exists.

The abusive partner will carry on doing what they do best – that is abusing and undermining you – for as long as you stay in the relationship.

By the time you finally walk away, you have internalized their contempt for you.  Now, that may sound like a big, ugly distortion of the truth.  Sadly, it is not.   You have learned what they – and perhaps a parent and/or sibling or two before them – taught you.  You have become accustomed to see yourself through their jaundiced eye.

Your innate emotional resilience

So, how does this fit with being emotionally resilient?

First off, the fact that you are still standing and still doing your best to be a decent human being points to an extraordinary strength.  It points to your inherent emotional resilience

Now, I understand that to you it may not feel that way but don’t forget that abusers teach you to be your own – second – worst enemy.  So, you would feel that way about yourself.

Every time you judge yourself hostilely, they hit the bullseye all over again.  Whether or not they are actually present to witness it.

Strength is one key component of resilience.

So, too, is bouncing back. This is where things get a tad more challenging.

The abuser’s credo re: mistakes

Among the many destructive things abusers teach you is the irreparability of making mistakes.  The full credo, if they were ever to explain it to you, would go like this.

“I am the sole power in your life.  I am entitled to control, judge and punish you at will. Just because. As the supreme power in your life, I am infallible. I do NOT make mistakes.  EVER! You, on the other hand, are a mistake. From start to finish.   EVERYTHING that you say and do – or do not say or do – is a heinous mistake.  Expect severe – never-ending – punishment for every last mistake that I have imputed to you and you will not be disappointed.  Dare to ask for anything good and you will be – repeatedly – severely disappointed and punished.”

That kind of brainwashing produces long-lasting effects on a person.

Does the terror of making mistakes affect you like this, too?

For a very long time, now I have been aware of this patterned response to making mistakes in myself, as well as my clients. Once upon a time, that response used to be utterly overwhelming because of the burden of shame, anxiety and despair that automatically kicked on.  Now, I  stand back and observe it, with curiosity.

A recent anecdote may help  clarify the whole issue.  Last week, I bought myself a travelling make-up mirror.  (Italy is full of hotels where the lighting is so dire that it is very challenging to apply the right amount of make-up to the appropriate place.)  Before I could use my new mirror (or crack it) I had to insert a lithium battery.

With my usual technical adroitness, I inserted  the wretched battery upside down and then couldn’t get it out again.  My mind obligingly went straight off on what I call the Desperation Riff,

“Now see what you’ve done!  You’ve broken it! You ruin everything. How could you be so careless!  It’s ruined. Money doesn’t go on trees.”

In point of fact, said travelling mirror cost $14 – so it was never going to be a life and death disaster. Besides, I hadn’t broken it. I had just created a small difficulty for myself – which I solved within 30 seconds.

Start focusing on the mechanism

However, when you shift your focus from the incident – which was neither here nor there – to the underlying mechanism, you see the old programming of not being emotionally resilient in play.

The old programmed Desperation Riff had automatically kicked in thanks to decades of brainwashing; first by my parents and then by the wasband.  (In reality, my family and wasband possessed a rare talent for smashing things – you can read about one of my brother’s better efforts here.

These days, the Desperation Riff  still pops up in my life –usually at the most random times. That is what old programming does.  However, it has become a mere curiosity.  Since I gained an understanding of how it works and how unfounded it is, the Desperation Riff has lost its hold over me.  It can no longer torture me, the way it was intended to .

That is the point of becoming more emotionally resilient. The Desperational Riff is intended to knock you off track for as long as possible.  That could be days, or even longer. A full length Desperation Riff will leave you exhausted and filled with self-reproach, as well as ratcheting up your anxiety to imminent emergency levels.

How you can deactivate The Riff

Emotional resilience is all about deactivating The Riff in a matter of minutes.

The first step to becoming more emotionally resilient is simply to notice.  Make a conscious effort to notice what causes your Desperation Riff to kick in.  Notice, also, when that happens.

It is the difficulty of rebuilding yourself after The Desperation Riff has been detonated that makes it so difficult to believe in yourself enough to experience confidence, clarity, strength and courage.  It is the fear of activating The Desperation Riff that makes it so hard to make decisions – even small, unimportant decisions, on occasion.  It is the Desperation Riff that sends you straight back into overwhelming feelings of depression.

Now do you start to see why it is so fundamental to build emotional resilience? This is one of the most important things that I have ever taught. Until now, I have only taught it to my 1 on 1 clients.

Developing emotional resilience is one of the core skills that will figure in the new program that I am currently putting together.  As part of the process of resolution of old hurts, you will discover all the steps you need to build the emotional resilience that you need for the rest of your life. I am really excited about the program which will only be open to limited numbers. So, if you think that emotional resilience and resolution of old hurts would make your life esier,, drop me an email right away to register your interest.



Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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