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Self-Disclosure Can Help Boost Resilience

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One of the most common metaphors that we attribute to resilience is that of ‘bouncing back’. It’s the psychological quality that allows us to recover after experiencing adversity.

On her blog Learn Grow Develop, Elita Torres shared an inspirational story that illustrates resilience:

Kris Carr, a 32-year old New Yorker was having a normal day. During a regular check-up at her doctor’s office, she was diagnosed with a rare and incurable stage 4 cancer known as epithelioid hemangioendothelioma.

She could have succumbed to the disease and no one would have judged given her diagnosis. Instead, she decided to fight with all her will.  She attacked her cancer with a brand new nutritional lifestyle, and turned her experience into a series of successful self-help books and documentaries.

This led Kris to launch her own wellness website, and is now revered as one of the most prominent experts on healthy living.

Be it getting cancer, death of a loved one or divorce, adversity is fact of life that we can’t escape. While these unpalatable life events are beyond our control, we can manage how we react to them.

Decades of studies have shown that the way we handle our emotions in the face of adversity, is an important aspect of resilience. By actively managing our emotions, we are taking steps towards becoming more emotionally resilient.

Resilience researchers found evidence that being emotionally resilient is something that can be learned and developed. But in order to achieve the goal, the factors associated with resilience must first be understood; only then can we effectively handle our emotions. Among those factors is the ability to regulate one’s emotion. Research has demonstrated that effective emotion regulation skills can be instilled through some training; and then levels of resilience can be enhanced after that.

One of the activities that can help us learn emotion regulation skills is self-disclosure. It’s the process of revealing information about yourself to others that is not readily known by them: you have to disclose so that people become more aware of certain aspects about you. It can be done face-to-face, or it can also been done through writing.  Self-disclosure doesn’t always have to be deep to be useful or meaningful; but it is important to be aware of the timing, your motives, and the depth and breadth of what you are sharing.

Sharing intimate information can be beneficial in struggling with an adverse life situation. Findings also suggest that resilience is positively associated to self-compassion and self-esteem; and that age exhibited a positive relationship with psychological resilience, with males reporting higher levels of resilience.

Resilience is important for several reasons. First, it allows us to develop ways of cushioning our well-being against experiences that could be overwhelming. It also helps us to maintain balance in our lives during difficult or stressful periods, and can also protect us from the development of some mental health difficulties.

Storytelling and sharing is an essential part of who we are, how we learn, and how we heal. We can use them to help us navigate our lives in the face of adversities.

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.


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