Resilience or emotional regulation responses are part of our autonomic nervous system which is developed in-utero and nurtured throughout our lives. This autonomic nervous system is part of our most primitive neurological systems which have developed to keep us alive and safe without having to “consciously” be aware of these activities. Activities which are both physical and psychological are automatically handled by our autonomic nervous system. Activities such as heart beat, digestion, and breath occur without conscious effort and without us having much influence on those activities. Our autonomic nervous system also handles our emotions in the form of reactions: reactions such as joy/caring/empathy in moments of pleasure and flight/fight/freeze responses in moments of emotional stress or danger.
Everyone has emotional resilience provided by nurture and nature. Throughout our lifetime we are exposed to emotional pleasures and stresses which have profound positive and negative effects on our emotional resilience. Experiences such as kindness, patience, love and compassion have cumulative effect, building the strength of our resilience whereas stresses such as violence, neglect, and death have both a cumulative effect and/or a spontaneous effect on our emotional resilience. We genetically inherent certain traits within our autonomic nervous system which have also effect our resilience. These inherited traits are “written-in” to our DNA from our parents, their parents and generations before. Reactions such as kindness, patience, love and compassion can all be handed down from generation to generation but so can volatility, intolerance and hate. These autonomic activities happen without thought, without consideration, within milliseconds; they come as reactions. Due to these reactions being automatic our minds (conscious thought) only have a “partial vote” on how we react to events in our lives. It’s been suggested we only utilize 10% of our brains for thought; one could say this 10% is the amount of influence our brain has over our resilience and emotional regulation and the remaining 90% influence comes from much more primitive and ancient resources (our autonomic nervous system). Resources such as social interaction, physical nurturing (rest and exercise), and personal time for emotional and cognitive nurturing can have profound and lasting positive effects on our autonomic nervous system. Strengthening our emotional resilience cannot come from pharmacology or strictly psychological treatments. Due to this emotional resilience being part of our physical nervous system (autonomic) the only direct access is through working with the physical nervous system. Physical activities such as Pulmonary Interaction (breathwork), Proprioceptive Movement (attuned exercise) and Interoceptive Awareness (meditation) have a direct effect on our autonomic nervous system and over time will reinforce our emotional resilience. These physical activities provide us the tools and access to the 90% vote which our cognitive (thinking) mind has only 10% influence. These physical activities work at the most basic foundations of our emotions and since this work is foundational it takes time, self-compassion and patience. Everything must have a strong foundation to survive: from the oldest and tallest trees to the strongest and most well-preserved structures. The good new is we can reinforce our foundations (our resilience) and over time build a life with a positive and loving orientation.
Happy New Years!