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Nose dive, Survive or Thrive? : What is Emotional Resilience?

By Geetu Bharwaney

emotional resilience over 50 image


Geeta continues to explain the role of emotional resilience in thriving over 50.  To read part One click here.

Emotional Resilience is about choosing the thoughts, actions, feelings that enable us to function at our best.

Whatever we are trying to do, emotions matter.

– connect with a family member or partner? plan a holiday? go to work and deal with difficult conflict? cope with retirement?…..emotions are always involved.  Yet, this is something we have typically not learned how to do.

My framework for Emotional Resilience involves three steps:

Step 1: Understand where you are on 6 Essentials – the level of these are often set from a young age based on what we experienced in our formative years and how it shaped our personalities – these are Self-Worth, Self-Control, Mood, Empathy, Understanding and Caring.

Step 2: Once you have identified your natural level on each of these personality dimensions, you can then focus on learning five emotion-based Skills to help to adjust yourself so that you can adapt to the situation in front of you – Shifting (emotions), Problem-Solving (emotions), Expressing (emotions), Group Empathy (to read emotions in group situations) and Dialogue (talking about difficult emotions).

Step 3: Finally, once you have learned this you can apply this, you can apply your Emotional Resilience to four Results areas of life – Energy, Thriving, Influence and Connection.

Thriving beyond age 50

Whilst there are many topics which affect your application of Emotional Resilience in everyday life, here are three relevant topics for thriving after 50.

‘Living Legacy’

The word ‘legacy’ is often associated with what happens beyond death, what (financial) legacy have you left for the next generation?. The more funerals I have attended the more I realise that it is our living legacy that matters for fulfilment right now in life – what do friends and family members think of us in our daily activities? How do we show up – exhausted, frenetic, serene, energetic

Reflect on six areas of life and together how these impact how you spend our time on a daily, weekly, monthly, annual basis. The areas are Physical, Social, Spiritual, Career, Intellectual and Financial.

To work on this, first identify how you are operating in each of these areas and where there is pain or a gap. Then plan to set yourself a specific daily target in each.

The icing on the cake is to build a living legacy’, seeing on one page what is most important to you and the key milestones for achieving it (contact me for an example of someone’s living legacy – see footnote).

Having the combination of a Living Legacy plan plus being flexible, is what matters for your emotional resilience.


But how can we be flexible? That’s where Energy Management and Adaptability come in.


‘Energy Management’


Working on your energy management is essential for noticing how you are literally wearing stress on a daily basis.


Some important questions to ask:

What activities give you energy and what activities drain you?

This is something we don’t often ask.

Rather than stuffing the difficult emotions down and trying to avoid them, we list the activities and then identify what we can do MORE of to get more energy and LESS of to stop an energy drain.


A client of mine, Fran, did this recently and here is what she came up with:

Energy Audit Example: Fran


Gives Me Energy Drains Me
Swimming Conflict in relationships
Walking (the dog) The news and politics
Laughing People not caring
Talking My demanding family
Eating a meal with my best friend Mess
Doing things with my family The cat
Reading The dog
Resting My family
Getting things done Thinking about my future
Being with my family Fears about my health
My best friend Worrying what people think of me
Being by the sea My oldest sister
My middle sister Envy
Cleaning and tidying, throwing things out or recycling them Thinking about my weight
My mom and dad Caring about things that don’t matter
Helping others Travelling
Being alone and feeling like a grown-up My grandma
Coaching sessions Friendships
Time to reflect IPAD, communication, technology, TV

From this, she used the six areas of life from ‘Living Legacy’ to identify daily goals:


Today’s priorities:


Physical – 10,000 steps per day.

Social – Time with my loved one + one meaningful emotional connection everyday. For this to be quality time, I need to reframe negative thoughts to the positive bigger when I allow critical self-talk to take over the conversation.

Spiritual –5-10 minutes every morning to reflect on ‘what am I grateful for, from yesterday?’, sets me up for success everyday.

Career –Clear time boundaries for the time I am going to spend this week on a vocation that I love. Being realistic about how long things take by writing down tasks and timings.

Financial – 30 minutes per day for dealing with the basics-receipts, bills, financial matters.

Intellectual – 1.5 hours spent learning about, or doing a hobby including time spent planning.



Working on your adaptability is essential for being able to problem solve the difficult situations you face. Here are some other key questions:

Where in your life are you adaptable and where are you relatively less flexible?

When you are under pressure, do you become more or less flexible?

What messages do you hear from other people that are related to flexibility in the face of change? (e.g. is there anyone close to you who typically says “you always say that”, “you don’t change, do you?”, “why don’t you try something new?”).


Try a more flexible approach. When you consider the problem, ask yourself:

“Is this how X would see it (where X is a person whose opinion you really value)?

“What other ways to see this problem might there be?”

Use methods to generate ideas; consult others to generate possible solutions, no matter how crazy they might seem.

“What would  X advise me to do in this situation (where X is a person whose opinion you really value)?

“What other solutions might there be?”


A dear friend of mine often jokes about this with me – there is always a PLAN B, but sometimes a PLAN C or D might need to be put into action. We can only arrive at this if we are clear that there is another way.


Another way of experimenting with flexibility is to take a situation which feels very uncomfortable – for example your closest friend is thinking of moving to France after all the Brexit challenges of recent weeks.


Write down 5 to 10 possible positive outcomes of the situation for you…and focus on the different people in the scenario and what could be the possible outcomes. Whilst this is an imaginative exercise, the purpose is to force you to see a possible good outcome from an unpopular decision:



My friend moves somewhere amazing and I join her for all my key holidays for the next 10 years.

My friend connects with new local friends and helps me to open up a new path or vocation not yet visible to me.

My friend asks me the direct question would I go with her? She values me enormously and distance actually strengthens the quality of our connection.


Finally, I want to summarise.

Emotions are key to Resilience and thriving in life. Emotional Resilience can be learned. Our lives after 50 presents great opportunities for focusing on creating balance through a clear living legacy, energy management and knowing what to do in difficult situations.


‘The significant problems of our time cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.’

-Albert Einstein, German Physicist and Philosopher of Science (1879-1955)


GB mono imageGeetu Bharwaney is Managing Director of Ei World (www.eiworld.org), a coach to high achievers on how to be effective in work and life.


FREE e-chapter and video/audio intro to book available at http://www.eiworld.org/Store.

FREE legacy template available by email from Author directly: gbharwaney@eiworld.org with the subject DebriefOffer. This is one of the free web resources from the book being sent to all TheDebrief readers who request it.
2) Full title:
Emotional Resilience: Know what it takes to be agile, adaptable and perform at your best

Written by Geetu Bharwaney, Author of Emotional Resilience (available in Audiobook and Paperback) and Managing Director of Ei World.

3) Links for purchasing book:

Download version via Audible: http://www.audible.com/pd/Self-Development/Emotional-Resilience-How-to-be-Agile-Adaptable-and-Perform-at-Your-Best-Audiobook/B00YCOYXX0/ref=a_search_c4_1_2_srTtl?qid=1467890231&sr=1-2

Download version via Ei World Amazon Store (physical audio products):


Amazon link paperback:


Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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