Backpacker - - The Survival Issue -

Emo­tional re­silience can be the dif­fer­ence be­tween en­dur­ing a longterm sur­vival chal­lenge, and suc­cumb­ing to one.

LEAVE OP­TI­MISM TO the rubes; it’s not as help­ful in a sur­vival sit­u­a­tion as you might think. Ac­cord­ing to Steven South­wick, a pro­fes­sor of psy­chi­a­try at Yale School of Medicine, the overly op­ti­mistic can be just as dan­ger­ous as the pes­simistic: They tend to over­es­ti­mate their abil­i­ties and un­der­es­ti­mate haz­ards.

Re­silience comes from re­al­is­tic op­ti­mism: ac­knowl­edg­ing the neg­a­tives, then forc­ing your­self to look at the pos­i­tives. Ac­cord­ing to South­wick, sur­vivors of long-term trauma tend to be able to set aside their fear: They see it as a help­ful guide rather than its own emer­gency.

To get to that point, South­wick rec­om­mends ac­knowl­edg­ing your fear, then us­ing pos­i­tive self-talk to keep up your morale (and tem­per your stress re­sponse). “Tell your­self, ‘I’m a lot stronger than I think. I have a reser­voir of re­silience and I’m go­ing to call on that,’” South­wick says. “Stay pos­i­tive. Imag­ine that you’re go­ing to make it out.” Do that and you just might.

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