Three skills we have to help us function, which are the pillars of maintaining and sustaining emotional and psychological health are:
1. The ability to adapt: the creative means in which we constantly adjust, modify, and fit to changes.
2. The ability to imagine: to recreate sensory impressions and feelings in our minds in the absence of external stimuli. To form images and ideas of things never perceived in reality.
3. The ability to create meaning: purpose, or significance of something. “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
What all these have in common is the basis or foundation of who we are; sensory beings. Our senses, our sensory system are “the stuff we are made of”.
How all this happens.
Our “primitive brain” is wired to interpret what we smell, hear, see, touch (and more!) in terms of safety and danger. We then asses the level of danger and choose our actions accordingly. We can stay where we are and continue to do what we were doing in a calm and relaxed way, or respond to a perceived threat by taking action; fight, flight or freeze. One key factor to any choice we make, and more importantly the outcome of that choice, is our perception of control. Whether we have a sense of control, or are “out of” control is the measuring stick of our survival.
Our sensory mechanism allows us to be aware of ourselves, others and our surroundings. The sensory being is expressed through our creativity. We are all creative. We wouldn’t be here if we weren’t. Adaptation is our most creative ability. You wouldn’t be able to read this article, take in the information, formulate your reactions, responses, and be physically comfortable wherever you are doing all of this if you haven’t been adapting all this time.
How we adapt to different situations, environments and relationships is influenced greatly by our early life experiences. Over the years, we collect and store these experiences. We construct and form memories, we form meanings.
What do we do with all of this?
Once we are aware of how our experiences have shaped and formed our interpretations of situations and events, we can filter out what is not currently relevant and focus on what is necessary to do at this time. What are our senses communicating to us now? How can we use our past experiences to help us better cope with today without projecting us into the fear of tomorrow?
Do all you can on your own and know when to turn to others for support. Developing your support system is the best framework in which your abilities can work to their potential. You don’t have to do it alone.
Be aware and be safe!