Denzel Z. Herrera-Davis
Founder of Create the Space
Let’s face it, simply being a person of color in America today is stressful, to say the least—and subjects an individual to a number of psychosocial risks. Resilience is the ability of an individual to successfully deal with, adapt to, handle, cope with, and recover from them.
Individuals or groups are considered “resilient” when they are healthy, despite exposure to a wide range of psychosocial risk factors. Fortunately, resilience is not a trait or gene that’s inherited (although it may partly be a conditioned product of racial stressors). It involves thoughts, beliefs, and practiced behaviors; thoughts and actions that can be learned and strengthened over time.
Emotional Resilience: Contributing Factors
A number of factors are known contributors to emotional resilience, all of which can be developed:
Caring and Support: having caring and supportive relationships within the family unit; feeling cared for and supported in the school or work environment; taking time to caring for and nurturing self
Pro-Social Interaction / Bonding: engaging in positive social surroundings; being active in local civic, faith-based, or sports clubs outside of work; accepting help and support from those that love, care, and listen to you
Meaningful Participation / Contribution: assisting others during their times of need; feelings of being valued and heard in close relationships as well as the work environment
Life Skills: honing skills in positive communication, problem solving, and conflict-resolution—and the ability to set realistic goals and take steps to achieve them
Honest Boundaries: paying attention to your own needs and feelings; setting and maintaining healthy and honest boundaries for self by standing up for yourself and not letting others take advantage
Emotional Resilience: Capacity Builders
We liken feelings and emotions to the frequencies of life; they oscillate up and down and can have small and large amplitudes – and they vary by individual. The techniques below we can all make a part of our routines such that we can better understand our emotions, balance the swings, and influence outcomes:
Practicing Awareness: by simply practicing and maintaining awareness, you can influence how you respond to stress factors. Being aware of your behavioral tendencies is the key to being able to manage them. Once you’re aware of the stimuli (or trigger), you can better intervene and prevent a cascade of reactions better affect outcomes
Disrupt the Pattern: We are all creatures of habit and to elicit different outcomes we must make different conscious choices. Breaking the pattern is a conscious recognition of a trend or pattern based on the stimuli, followed by an immediate and distinct change in response:
Sit with it: Allow yourself to feel everything… really lean into whatever the feeling is and acknowledge it, own it, and see where in the body it manifests itself.
Disengage (take a nap): It is nearly impossible to fully appreciate your honest feelings in the moment, much less how to respond or react to a particular situation. So allow yourself some time and space to process. My favorite way to do that is to take a nap—to reset, reframe, and restore.
(re)Design your reality: Retrain yourself to respond the way you want, by giving yourself small and attainable cues. For example, if you want to drink more water every day, leave a full glass of water by the bed at night and refill it as soon as you finish.
The Power Positive Language: We are all given the divine power to create. That creation begins with a thought, and is carried forth with a voice. “Speaking it into existence” gets to the subtle but real power of creation through language; maintain a positive perspective; nurture positive self-image and self-talk; be deliberate with what you say. Small changes in language can lead to big impacts to beliefs and outcomes.
The Power of Forgiveness: Rather than punish yourself for the things that didn’t go right, acknowledge them through awareness and then FORGIVE yourself. Having self-compassion is literally one of the kindest things you can do for yourself and will start to realign your belief system to one of support and positive self-image. Then, forgiving others becomes that much easier.
Denzel Z. Herrera-Davis
Create the Space