Hey, hi hello! I’m Sofia, and I’m so glad you’re here to learn about micro-resilience.
We don’t know each other well yet, but as a member of the Wellness Force community and reader of this blog post, I already know that you’re dedicated to a life of learning, growth and living life well.
The commitment to living life well feels easy enough when everything seems to be going right. You know what I’m talking about… those times where life feels seamless and almost easy, which makes self-care (whatever your preferred type may be!) an effortless addition to your routine.
But, let’s be honest here… how often are things in life ever going entirely right? How often does the ease of life outweigh the challenges, frustrations and opportunities that push us outside our comfort zone?
Life is Full of Challenges and Curveballs
More often than not, daily life pushes us outside of our comfort zone. It's challenging and difficult by nature; it often feels like life just won’t cooperate with our visions, dreams and goals. Despite the best intentions, even the most disciplined can veer off the wellness path and get thrown by whatever life hands us. These curveballs aren’t necessarily caused by big problems; it’s usually a medley of smaller things that never seem to quit, with new issues that arise just when you think you’ve reached the other side.
I refer to these “smaller things” as the daily, mundane negative events, thoughts or emotions we all have and experience. They’ve become both expected and accepted as an unavoidable part of life, plaguing each of us to varying degrees and in different ways.
It’s overwhelming when all the small things seem to be going awry at once, but on their own the daily, yet seemingly insignificant, negative moments or challenging events rarely get challenged or questioned. The need or desire to deal with or address them head on seems futile when placed alongside the bigger, more dramatic negative events in our lives. If this sounds like you, rest assured– this mindset is quite common. Mainstream society teaches us that the skills needed to deal with the more difficult parts of life – our resilience – should be reserved for the worst day(s) of our lives.
What the Research Says & the Case for Micro-Resilience
You might be thinking “so what?” right about now. If we all deal with negativity and adverse events on a daily basis and smaller scale, then what’s the big deal? Again, if I seem to be reading your mind, then we’re on the same page. I asked myself the same question early on in my Clinical Psychology and Education (concentration in Spirituality and Mind/Body Practice) Master’s Degree program, trying to figure out if any of this mattered and whether or not the ‘micro-moments’ of negativity in our lives – the small stuff – threatened my ability to live life well.
A year and many hours of research and studying later, I can now tell you that the latest empirically-proven psychology research proves that negative experiences of ANY size matter. Negative emotions can build up over time, creating a significant and potent harmful impact on our mental health, physical health and our happiness. When combined with our negativity bias – a biological phenomenon that explains why humans tend to emphasize or focus on the negative parts of life – the research highlights the need to address our negative emotions in the moment and head on.
In short, this means that even if you’re not at the point of overwhelm, it’s time to start sweating the small stuff. Resilience can no longer merely apply to the bigger, more infrequent challenges we face – it needs to expand and include what I call the micro-moments. In order to live life well, we need to develop ‘micro-resilience’.
The Difference Between Resilience and Micro-Resilience
In order to make sense of what I call micro-resilience, a better understanding of resilience is key. As I noted above, today resilience is generally understood as a mix of skills only reserved for the traumatic or highly distressful times in our lives. It seems simple at first glance, but a closer look at the formal definition of resilience reveals a rather vague and unclear foundation of the concept.
The New Oxford American Dictionary’s primary definition of resilience is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness”. These difficulties, or adversity, are hard to quantify and subjective; therefore, the type or categorization of a situation that warrants resilience cannot be classified in a finite or objective way. There is no standardized way to differentiate between the big things and the little things.
The New Oxford American Dictionary’s secondary definition of resilience is rooted in the physical sciences: “The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity”. This definition implies that resilience is a skill or trait that helps us get back to normal or our state of being prior to the adverse event that required resilience in the first place. It suggests that resilience is successful if it brings us back to a prior state of being; it does not address the personal transformations that are the result of adversity.
Micro-Resilience & Why it Matters
Unlike the common definition and understanding of resilience today, micro-resilience acknowledges the wide array of negative emotions and the situations that trigger them. Micro-resilience honors the entire human experience.
Micro-resilience acknowledges the desire for personal growth, self-improvement and the ability to use difficult experiences and negative emotions to continue along the path of living life well.
Micro-resilience is meant to be practiced daily so that you can improve in small, incremental ways. When we practice micro-resilience, we’re changing our lives for the better one step at a time.
In the upcoming months, I’ll explain micro-resilience in more detail and show how it can be applied to the six pillars of wellness – thoughts, feelings, actions/behaviors, eating, movement and sleep – in bi-monthly blog posts. Click here or enter your name and email below if you'd like to be kept in the loop for upcoming posts and all things micro-resilience.
About The Author
As a former marketing strategist and avid reader, Sofia Adler is a lover of storytelling (especially the stories we tell ourselves). Sofia graduated from Colgate University with a Bachelor’s degree in sociology and is currently getting a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology and Education with a concentration in Spirituality and Mind/Body practice from Teachers College, Columbia University (expected December 2018). Sofia is a 200-hour RYT yoga instructor specializing in vinyasa and restorative practices and has participated in multiple yoga philosophy trainings.
Sofia has completed an array of additional courses and workshops on coaching, mindset and the spirit, mind and body connection, all of which have influenced her coaching approach and style.