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Beyond Resilience

by Mark D. Lerner, Ph.D.

Chairman, The National Center for Emotional Wellness

resilience noun


"an ability to recover or adjust easily to misfortune or change." (Merriam-Webster)

Resilience is commonly understood as the capacity to recover and rebound in the face of challenges and change. However, it's important to consider whether emotional wellness entails more than bouncing back. What if we could use our painful emotional experiences for personal growth, development, and productivity?


While the conventional perception of resilience focuses on weathering difficulties and returning to a previous state, emotional wellness suggests that our struggles can be transformative and beneficial.

Instead of merely recovering, we have the potential to use challenging experiences to fuel personal growth and propel ourselves to thrive.


If you think about it, people with whom we celebrate—the "celebrities"—frequently have something in common: they've overcome something. Emotional pain can be the impetus for personal development by motivating us to make necessary changes. When faced with adversity, we may be inspired to pursue new avenues, acquire new skills, or seek support systems to aid our growth. In this way, our emotional struggles can propel us towards personal and professional achievements we may not have pursued otherwise.


Furthermore, harnessing painful emotional energy can increase empathy, compassion, and understanding. When we've experienced challenging emotions ourselves, we become better attuned to the struggles of others, allowing us to connect on a deeper, authentic level and offer support. This empathy can enhance our relationships and create a greater sense of community.


Nevertheless, it's important to note that harnessing painful emotional energy for personal growth is challenging. It requires self-awareness, acceptance, and a willingness to confront difficult emotions. Additionally, seeking guidance from mental health professionals or engaging in therapeutic practices can provide valuable support.


While resilience is often seen as the ability to bounce back from adversity, emotional wellness can encompass more than mere recovery. By harnessing our painful emotional energy, we can use it as a catalyst for personal growth, development, and productivity. We can transform our emotional struggles into opportunities for growth and fulfillment through self-reflection, motivation for change, increased empathy, compassion, and enhanced relationships.


In the wake of adversity, emotional wellness can propel people from victim to survivor and, ultimately, thriver.


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