Mental and Emotional Fitness
(Resiliency)
Resiliency is defined in the dictionary as: bouncing back,
returning to original shape or form after being bent, stretched or
compressed; buoyant; cheerful. Life is full of adversity - events
that can thwart us in seeking what we'd really like in life, give us
more to deal with than we'd like. People often talk about
someone being "bent out of shape" when they're angry or upset
about something. They talk about being stretched to their limits,
or being under a lot of pressure. When asked about how they
are doing, people often respond with "I'm keeping my head
above water" rather than going under, or "drowning in my
troubles".

Emotion can be nice to have, i.e. joy, love and pride. It can also
be helpful energy to move. If we get frustrated or disappointed,
it can motivate us to try harder or try again to get what we want.
If we're irritated or annoyed about what others say and do, we'll
be motivated to assert ourselves in some way. If we have
concern, we'll be motivated to take helpful precautions. If we
have regret or remorse, we'll be motivated to behave in better
ways, and/or apologize and make amends to others.

The problem is that people too often can generate a
dysfunctional amount of emotion in response to their life events
- more than is helpful or necessary, more than they want to
have, more than is healthy for them, more than they know what
to do with, and a type and amount that works against them
instead of for them. The main way this works against them is
that they are more likely to react to life events than respond to
them. They become less response-able, or less able to respond
to life in the best possible ways. They are less likely to consider
the consequences of their actions before acting. Reacting and
ignoring consequences could be helpful in truly life-threatening
situations. It could even make the difference between life and
death. The problem is that people can, and often do imagine
threats where they don't exist, or perceive them as being the
equivalent of life threatening when they're not by the way they
choose to look at themselves, others, life and what happens
before, during and after their life events occur. This unhelpful
and unnecessary energy to move makes them less likely to
access and act on helpful advice and information they've been
given, and less likely that they will learn from their own or others
experiences.

These "tools" teach young people to keep their emotional
thermostats turned down, and to turn them down quickly should
they go up. That allows them to be response-able, or able to
respond to life in the best possible ways, especially when it
doesn't always go the way they'd like. It frees them to access
and act on helpful advice and information, to consider
consequences before acting, and to learn from their own and
others experiences. This allows them to bounce back, return to
their original shape or form after being bent, stretched or
compressed. Actually, it makes them less likely to feel they're
being bent out of shape, stretched to their limits, or that they are
under pressure in the first place. It's always better to prevent
stress and anger than try to manage it after the fact.

To me, response-ability is really the ability to respond to life in
the best possible ways instead of react to it. That ability is what
I like to call mental and emotional fitness.