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In these difficult, COVID times, many struggle with isolation, a lack of human contact. Suggestions to help deal with this are plentiful, and appropriate, but there’s one word, one contribution, that I think really important, that I never hear mentioned…
Quite simply, when we are nourished or feel nourished, we are resilient. It’s nourishment that’s the engine of resilience – and much else besides. Nourishment drives fortitude, stamina and all the rest.
Reflecting on my own experience as a case study I recognise that I feel at my most vulnerable when I feel undernourished. And perhaps more importantly I initially sought nourishment from others: gravitated to tasks that nourished; drawn to people who nourished. And the reverse is true: I used to avoid, or resist, tasks that failed to provide nourishment.
So what do I mean by nourishment, or being nourished? To me it’s a combination of two key factors long established as important and positive drivers: value and validation: but it is less about ‘valuing’ something or ‘validating’ someone, and more about ‘feeling’ valued and validated.
Feeling and being valued is about being recognised for your worth and contribution – directly, personally, not in some general ‘catch all’ newsletter or poster. It’s a direct and positive connection between the giver and receiver: praise, thanks, consideration, support, having others take the time to listen, and seek you out as someone who is helpful and considerate.
In resilience sessions, we often talk as a metaphor about ‘keeping the reservoir topped up’.
… rest, eating well, exercising – a lot of physical elements.
… and they are important, but I believe emotional nourishment is equally if not more important
These two factors together produce nourishment, in turn producing all the other factors so often quoted for success. So if and when we are nourished, we then have the necessary ‘resilience’ attributes. Once nourished, it’s easier to have fortitude, inner strength, calmness, stamina and the rest… I believe that nourishment, driven by feeling and being valued and validated, is THE key driver determining anyone’s level of resilience – and by implication, wellbeing (including of course, the ability to handle stress well).
In resilience sessions, we often talk as a metaphor about ‘keeping the reservoir topped up’. Often this can be interpreted as getting rest, eating well, exercising – a lot of physical elements. And they are important. But I believe emotional nourishment is equally if not more important: for example, how can you rest or sleep easily if you feel devalued or non-validated? Asking someone to top up on their physical reserves when in nourishment terms, they are emotionally drained, is impossible.
In one sense, binge drinking, eating junk food, shouting, complaining and sulking all are short term forms of palliative nourishment – quick fixes, to compensate for the longer term absence of true nourishment. A good example of short term gain, long term pain….
All the above suggests that feeling and being valued and validated comes externally from others. However, in recent years, I have come to realise – initially unconsciously – that to be truly grounded, successful, resilient, I needed to be able to nourish myself.
Receiving unsought value and validation is lovely; however, beware of it becoming the drug of choice. Don’t become a dependency junkie, depending on others to value and validate you. What happens if externally-based value and validation aren’t forthcoming or are withdrawn? For many, this may lead to the cold turkey of a sense of rejection, hurt, isolation and failure. This is why internal self-valuing and self-validation have to be in place, to kick the dependency habit. So to function truly healthily, with resilience, you have to be able to value and validate yourself.
For me, this combination works:
where FV1 = feeling valued and FV2 = feeling validated will determine N – your level of nourishment, and where:
leads to the ultimate goal, where H = happiness (however you want to define this).
So if this strikes a chord with you, three questions:
If you want to progress towards a nourishing culture, consider which of these you personally do on a daily basis:
As is so often the case – it’s up to you, and each of us, what culture we create.
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