ENGAGING RESILIENCE: 

THREE ASPECTS OF EMOTIONAL WELLNESS 

 

Steven Eric Handwerker, Ph.D., D.Div.

Founder and CEO, The International Association for the

Advancement of Human Welfare, Inc.

 

Recent psychological research has shown that there are several dimensional components to resilience which are involved in generating emotional wellness. The first and most commonly described element is ‘coping’. Coping is comprised of intellectual, emotional and physical aspects all of which can be uniquely applied to any individual in any situation. Physically it is about creating a state of balance through proper diet, moderate exercise and a lifestyle that is conscious of reducing stress. Emotionally, coping means observing and constructively engaging the feelings that arise in the face of the challenges being encountered. This process ultimately yields an understanding of the meaning and lessons to be derived. The intellectual component is engaged in the process of working to understand the meaning and lessons derived from the challenges being processed.  

 

Through persistent effort this latter phase of coping creates a bridge to the next phase of resilience in creating emotional wellness which I call adaptation. To truly adapt never means a resignation into the nature of the experience but rather the utilization of the individual’s intuitive, intellectual and spiritual gifts to ascertain what is needed at the time to transform the experience that is presented as the initial stressor or challenge.

 

Transformation is the true objective of engaging resilience. The individual has clarity about the event or stressor, the feelings and experiences of limitation involved and is able to build an understanding within his/her being through the observation and reflection process. This transformative aspect is another dimension to emotional wellness that is often not recognized in the flow of one’s life experiences especially during times of significant stress. Here is where true resilience exists. When we proactively pursue these three dimensions of wellness we are engaging a preventive process that stands ready to meet life’s fluctuations and challenges most efficaciously!