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This is the first of a series of articles on how to develop emotional resilience.

If you think back over your lifetime, there have been some amazing discoveries in science, medicine and technology to name but a few, that have transformed the way we live in the world. As human beings we have immense capacity and potential and we are still learning about the brain, the mind and the body and how these systems work together to create such genius- so there is plenty more to come!!

So how come when we have such incredible potential are the rates of mental illness, stress, anxiety and depression getting higher and higher? How come when we have more and more of the things we want, the rates of unhappiness are soaring? I work with a lot of clients who experience anxiety, depression or who resort to other habits to mask their emotions: eating, smoking, drinking etc. What’s going on here? Well I think the answer is how we manage our relationship with ourselves and the world around us and in particular how we manage our emotions.

I was at the Quest Institute conference recently and Oliver James, author of ‘Affluenza’, suggests that mental illness increases when we pursue what we want rather than what we need. What he means by this is that the goal of having- the right house, the right car, the best gadget etc focuses on external factors to keep us happy. In contrast if we focus on what we need and enjoy the process of being, this creates more intrinsic happiness.

In a nutshell happiness is an inside out process rather than an outside in.

What does this mean?

Have you ever noticed how children have a natural ability to be happy? They live in the moment, enjoy being in the moment and are at one with themselves? The truth is that as human beings this is our natural resting state so we all have this ability. If you’re not sure, remember how relaxed you feel when you are on holiday, when all that clutter of life seems to clear itself and you rediscover what’s important to you. I describe this ability as having an inbuilt, innate compass that knows exactly what’s right for you in any given moment. Using this you can understand and navigate emotions effectively, activate the amazing problem solving skills we all have and find a solution or a way forward for most things.

My primary goal in all my work with clients is to put people back in touch with this ability. It’s always been there but it gets lost in the turbulence of negative thoughts and feelings which is a factor for every client I see.

When you begin to realise that you can experience and manage your reality in a very different way, that can open up a wealth of possibilities, new horizons, new ways of making sense of the world and a way to use and manage your feelings constructively. Could you just begin to imagine how powerful that could be?

In the subsequent parts in this series, I will give you some simple tips and techniques so you can begin to experience this for yourself.

“Life is not the way it’s supposed to be, it’s the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.”

Virgina Satir

Jill Tonks

Jill Tonks