Friday, 24 June 2016


In terms of resilience, what is most problematic for most people are the
early stages of a set-back stage.  That's because most people are completely
unprepared for life's inevitable and unpredictable set-backs.  I know I was.
How about you?  And because of that lack of preparation, that is why a
set-back almost always occurs as a shock-as a surprise.  And if it totally
disrupts life, the shock is even greater.  That's why a person doesn't seem
to be able to get his head around it no matter how one tries.

"What's happening?  I can't believe this!"  "No, no way I've been fired!"
"No way would she leave me!"  "I can't believe that I lost all of my
investment."  "The doctor has to be wrong with that diagnosis- not me."

Precisely because a person is not prepared for the possibility of a
set-back, when it comes she goes into shock.  The facts about the set-back
shock her-shocks her perceptions, expectations, beliefs, style-of-life,
response patterns, and so on.  It shocks her out of her pattern of thinking
and perceiving and out of her way of living.  No wonder Elizabeth Kubler
Ross put shock as the first stage of grief.  A loss has occurred, but the
person isn't prepared for it.

So the person goes into a regressive, childish state of bargaining.   He
offers "bargains" with God, with the universe, with others, with himself.

"If this will go away, I'll go to church, I will never lie again.  I will
never cheat again."  "I will be a good husband."  "If I can get back what I
lost, I'll reform and be a new person.  I will treat others right." 

The bargaining stage is a childish promising state of desperation driven by
fear, distress, and confusion.  It is a demanding state.  It is in that
stage that spouses show up at the other's doorsteps or at work making the
most loving, romantic promises of faithfulness.  They attempt to bargain
with fate to get their life back!

Then comes anger.   When the shock fades and the bargaining fails, then the
person gets pissed.   He gets as made as hell and starts storming around.
Some people throw things, others kick things.  She curses and uses words you
have never heard her say before!  The person is now fully registering the
loss of the value and the threat that it poses to one's job, finances,
relationship, healthy, future, reputation, etc.  And with that sense of
threat, comes the emotion of anger.  Anger is the state where we feel
threaten and so we fight to get back what we have lost or to push back
whoever (whatever) we blame.  And blame we do!  We become highly activated
and maybe aggressive in pushing back whatever we think is the cause of our

Yet if for all of the pushing back, nothing changes, nothing good happens.
That's when one moves into the depression state.   We give up.   We
relinquish it and then we push down (de-press) our hopes, dreams, desires,
wants, beliefs, optimism, energy, etc.  The pain of having loss now comes
home and the cure is to not want, to not care.  So into the depression mode
we go, we let it all go.  In doing this we usually also let ourselves go- we
given up spending time with friends, exercising, reading, and everything
that makes life interesting and fascinating.  We let our appearance go.  We
don't care.  "It can all go to hell.  Who cares anyway?  I don't!" so, leave
me alone.


What happens after depression?  Maybe cycling back to more anger or shock or
bargaining.  In fact, while these stages do tend to be sequential, we also
cycle around them over and over.  This is the heart of the emotional
roller-coaster stage as we try to get our feet back on the ground.  Yet we
can perpetuate these stages for a long time.  How long?  It all depends.

Studying people in the US and Europe, Elizabeth Kubler Ross postulated that
it usually takes two years.  But it all depends on how prepared a person was
in the first place and how skilled a person is at coping and accepting.
That's why-in some cultures-the process hardly occurs at all.  For example,
the more a culture accepts death, celebrates death, see it as a graduation
to the great beyond-the less grief there will be.  So also, the more a
family or culture or person is well-adjusted to reality-the less shock, the
less bargaining.  The more ego-strength, the less trying to cope with
bargaining and anger.  The more coping skills and resources available, the
less time in the grief or roller-coaster stage.

In fact, the last stage in the state of acceptance.  Acknowledge of what has
happened so you can take whatever actions that you can to ameliorate the
situation as best as possible.  In this, acceptance is the cure for the
grief stages.  The sooner you get to acceptance, the sooner you begin to
deal with the set-back appropriately and effectively.  Acceptance is an
incredibly powerful state-deceptively so because it does not make one feel
powerful.    Yet in acceptance one releases the demandingness that creates
bargaining, anger, and depression.

After the set-back stage is the stage of coping-and coping effectively.
Everything before this stage essentially consists of inadequate and poor
coping skills-activities and mindsets that generally make things worse.
Acceptance is the transitional state.  With acceptance a person is able to
simply acknowledge the reality and go about doing the best one can to deal
with the set-back.  So, given the general nature of how we humans face
set-backs, it should be abundantly clear that we save ourselves a lot of
heartache and waste of emotional energy if we would just begin with
acceptance.  What's the value of shock, bargaining, anger and depression?
All of these emotions speak about how unprepared a person is for real life-
it speaks about lack of, or low, ego-strength.

So, to speed up your development of resilience, to shorten the time between
set-back and recovery, here is the strategy: skip shock, bargaining, anger,
and depression and go straight for acceptance.  It will do you good.  You
will be more reality-oriented, more attuned to how life on planet Earth
actually works, and you will be able to get to the business of living
effectively quicker.

L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.

               Neuro-Semantics Executive Director

               Neuro-Semantics International

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