Emotional Resilience Blog from The Fear Course

The latest research, realisations and thinking in the world of emotional resilience, anxiety and fear reduction from around the world.

How To Forgive And Let Go

How To Forgive And Let Go

I have heard over the years lots of people say how important forgiveness is and I never ever really understood what they meant. I didn't know how to do it and I certainly had no appreciation of what it was. In fact forgiveness became a word I would end up squinting at sideways, with suspicion.

"Forgiveness became a word I would end up squinting at sideways, with suspicion"

I have heard religious people talk at length about forgiveness and therapists (yes I've had a few) talk about forgiving myself to the extent that it had become a sort of non-word for me. I kept hearing the word but no-one told me how to do it.

It was only in the last few years that I think I have started to understand what it is and how to do it.

Most of us carry around hurts and anger about things other people have done or said and embarrassment, shame or even horror at things we ourselves have done or said.

It wasn't until I realised that at any particular time, everyone is doing the best that they can, with the thoughts, emotions and beliefs that they have - at that moment. At any moment in time they make the decisions they make believing them to be the best response right then. Even if the outcome has dire consequences.

I was a police officer for 18 years and over that time met many many criminals and people who had done terrible things including murder. When I look back on the long line of people I dealt with, every single one of them (even the odd socio and psychopath) were doing what they believed was a reasonable response given the way they saw, felt and believed the world to be at that moment.

When I think back to the hurts I have carried, inflicted by loved ones and others and perpetrated myself...

When I think back to the hurts I have carried, inflicted by loved ones and others and perpetrated myself, they were each and every one, responses to how they (and I) saw the situation at that moment. They (and I) were doing the best they could in that moment with everything they felt, understood and believed.

Now that's not to say they (and I) couldn't do better. It is only after the fact that we may (or may not) reflect on what happened and hopefully learn.

This realisation has helped me to 'forgive', let go of things and find peace.

This understanding is also the basis of another thing I never understood. Be gentle with/on yourself. For me, now being gentle requires forgiveness which in turn requires understanding the nature of the way we often decide to do and say things.

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." ~Mahatma Gandhi

The problem is if we don't forgive and let go, we become prisoners, locked in the cells of our own making - with only our hurt, anger or shame as cell mates.


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How to be Emotionally Resilient

How to be Emotionally Resilient

In this article I want to have a look at what the research says about what emotional resilience is and what is it that makes someone resilient.
The first thing I usually have to say to people is that emotional resilience is not a lack of feeling or not having any feelings. I think that is called dead.

So what does the research say? Most studies describe emotional resilience as what happens as a result of adapting to a situation regardless of the level of risk, the amount of stress or the amount or level of adversity encountered. By successful adaptation they mean the ability to operate and deal with a situation without being adversely effected by anything which could have a negative emotional impact, which in turn means being able to deal with our emotions.

One set of researchers added that it is a set of beliefs and traits that enable individuals to bounce back from adversity, adapt to situations, thrive, learn and have mature emotional responses across a wide range of situations.

The point I made above about this not being a lack or absence of feeling or emotion is important. Empathy and our very human ability to 'feel' our way through a situation is important here and moves resilience away from being hard, unfeeling, remote or cut off. The ability to be able to operate with other people in difficult situations and to experience and use our normal range of emotions in the middle of an adverse situation suggests something else than just hardness. This includes active coping processes that encompasses what would be termed as psychological adjustment even in a difficult situation.

There is an old saying "Anyone can lead when things are easy. It takes a real leader to lead effectively when the going gets tough."

Self-leadership is a vital component of resilience, which incorporates the ability to be able to function positively with ones self and others, which in turn requires a level of self-esteem, respect and empathy. People like this can often find themselves leading others, particularly in difficult situations.

What is interesting is that a number of studies have found that people with higher levels of life-satisfaction (appreciation), self-esteem and optimism tend also to be the most adaptable and resilient. Indeed one study just published found that resilient people have higher levels of life-satisfaction even though they experience both negative and positive emotions. Research is showing resilience is not a lack of negative emotion or feelings, rather it is the sense of control one has over them.

There is also some evidence to show that people who feel they have control over their emotions also tend to feel more optimistic and enjoy life (life satisfaction). There is therefore a strong connection between resilience and emotion regulation - the ability to control our emotions rather than the emotions controlling us. Not only that, studies are now finding that people with greater levels of emotion regulation ability also tend to have heightened self-esteem.



Bonanno, G. A. (2004). Loss, trauma, and human resilience: Have we underestimated the human capacity to thrive after extremely aversive events? American Psychologist, 59, 20–28.

Burns, R. A., Anstey, K. J., & Windsor, T. D. (2011). Subjective well-being mediates the effects of resilience and mastery on depression and anxiety in a large community sample of young and middle-aged adults. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 45, 240–248.

Chang, E. C., & Sanna, L. J. (2007). Affectivity and psychological adjustment across two adult generations: Does pessimistic explanatory style still matter? Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 1149–1159.

Lui, Y,. et al., (2014) Affect and self-esteem as mediators between trait resilience and psychological adjustment. Personality and Individual Differences 66 (2014) 92–97

Luthar, S. S., Cicchetti, D., & Becker, B. (2000). The construct of resilience: A critical evaluation and guidelines for future work. Child Development, 71, 543–562.

Mak, W. W. S., Ng, I. S. W., & Wong, C. C. Y. (2011). Resilience: Enhancing well-being through the positive cognitive triad. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 58, 610–617.

Park, H., Heppner, P. P., & Lee, D. (2010). Maladaptive coping and self-esteem as mediators between perfectionism and psychological distress. Personality and Individual Differences, 48, 469–474.

Pinquart, M. (2009). Moderating effects of dispositional resilience on associationsbetween hassles and psychological distress. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30, 53–60.

Siu, O.-L., Hui, C. H., Phillips, D. R., Lin, L., Wong, T., & Shi, K. (2009). A study of resiliency among Chinese health care workers: Capacity to cope with workplace
stress. Journal of Research in Personality, 43, 770–776.

Tugade, M. M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2004). Resilient individuals use positive emotions to bounce back from negative emotional experiences. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 86, 320–333.

Wagnild, G., & Young, H. M. (1990). Resilience among older women. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 22, 252–255.

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Does Happiness Lead to Success?

Does Happiness Lead to Success?

Most people assume that successful people are happy. Many studies have found that things like positive relationships, comfortable income, good mental health and accomplishment are all related to happiness. One study found that whilst having a comfortable income, i.e. not being anxious about money on a continual basis is one of the factors which can underlie happiness, more money does equate to greater levels of happiness. They found that the wealthy do not have more happiness than those on lower income levels.

In all of the studies good relationships and friendships consistently rank high for promoting happiness. More recently studies have found that contributing or volunteering towards a good cause or doing a good deed also has a significant positive effect on people's happiness.

An interesting question is whether or not happy people tend to do better in life?
There is a growing body of evidence to show that happy people tend to broaden and build resources and resourcefulness. They tend to build more positive and deeper relationships with others which in turn can lead to greater levels of happiness.

Researchers have found that positive people often tend to use the happy periods of their life to develop and strive to attain new goals, which leads to greater life satisfaction. in effect positive people see a new challenge and take action. This action then often leads to achievement which in turn leads to a feeling of success and contentment and more positive constructions of the world. There is a sense of having not just control over their lives, but positive control and good feelings or happiness. This then promotes confidence, greater levels of optimism and self belief. It has also been found that these attributes lead to their becoming more likeable to others and they are also more likely to be more positive and charitable towards other people. This then leads to greater levels of sociability, more prosocial behaviour which is also correlated with greater levels of activity and energy.

Further studies have found that positive happy people tend to suffer from less general ill-health in that they have greater levels of immunity to things like colds etc. Additionally studies have found that positive happy people also tend to be more effective in coping with life challenges and stress and they show greater levels of creativity, problem solving ability and general cognitive flexibility.

In effect happy people often have greater levels of active involvement in goal oriented pursuits. A positive perspective promotes approaching situations as opposed to avoidance, which in turn leads to a greater chance of success.

One large scale meta-analysis of previous research published in 2005 found that happy positive people are significantly more likely to succeed in their job and receive higher job ratings from employers and managers than people who were less positive and are not as generally happy. There is a range of evidence now appearing that shows that because of these effects, happy, positive people tend to be more successful across a range of activities, including work.

For a FREE 16 part video course showing you how to be Calm, Composed and Confident click here



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