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Resilience for Adolescence and 'Middlescence' – Stress and Burnout Reduction

September 9, 2019 | Sophie Grufferty


Adolescence is a relatively new term that describes the transitional stage from childhood to adulthood; often a time of both disorientation and discovery. The transitional period can raise questions of independence and identity; as adolescents cultivate their sense of self. Eibhlin Johnston has been working with organisations in the States and the UK to develop training and resiliency programmes for Adolescence. The programmes are designed to reduce the stress and anxiety associated with this phase in life and provide new and effective ways for addressing critical issues such as stress conflict between individuals and teams, and barriers to motivation and creativity.

Whilst training and researching the programmes, Eibhlin noticed that there were significant similarities between the issues raised by Adolescents and, men and women in the middle stage of life; areas such as stress, burn-out and conflict.

“Middlescence” is a new term she has devised for this stage in life which is the focus of the Resiliency training offered by Odd Socks Insights and www.eibhlinjohnston.com.

The main focus of the training for both Adolescents and Middlescence is overthinking; the root of most of our stress. Over the years Eibhlin built up strategies for dealing with difficult people. They tended to be short-lived until she started to explore why and how difficult people existed in her life. She looked at what she does when she encountered difficult people? Why difficult people exist in our lives? What makes someone difficult? Where does that experience of difficult come from?

This exploration was quickly followed by her exploration of non-difficult people (what is the opposite of a difficult person?). She realised that there were so many people that I had never experienced as difficult. They did not show up in her mind that way and she did not need to employ strategies to deal with them or cope with them. Her ranking of difficult people was a choice and the choice was clearly made up by her thinking and yet they were the basis of most of her stress!

Working with her clients, she also noticed that difficult people were just an illusion made up of our thinking; that we do not need strategies to cope with the illusion that appears outside of our mind in the first place. The illusion is created by thought. Difficult people are all made up, a lot like most of our experiences. They come from thought, because difficult is a meaning we assign to a behaviour. It is a meaning that we use as a label. What if this was not a useful way of describing the situation?

Think about a time you were absolutely sure you knew what was going on and then you realised that you were wrong when you went outside your version of reality. This is what happens when we embellish someone’s behaviour with our thinking. Most of us have argued with someone in our thinking. We have full blown arguments in our head. The truth is that there are four of us in every relationship. When we have the discussion or argument in our head, we are dealing with the sock puppet version of that person. When you start to notice yourself creating conflict in your own mind, you start to see that the other person is doing the same thing and that many of our conversations are extensions of what unfolds in our minds. When others do not think like us, we think there is either something wrong with them and we stay trapped in that illusion that we could or should think and feel the same.

When we start to distinguish the person in our head with the person outside, we start to experience a much calmer life and realise that we are all doing the best we can given the thinking we have that looks real to us. We see that other people are not always difficult and that often our experience of difficult was made of thought. We stop wasting time being dismayed that others do not think like us and start to respect others and diversity rather than being annoyed or afraid of it. We understand that you cannot have my thoughts and I cannot have yours. No one can think the same as anyone else. When you see this, you will find that it becomes easier to listen and communicate with others.

The trainings offered by Odd Socks show our clients, regardless of age, how to move beyond their thinking especially around other people. What’s new and different about the Odd Socks version of the resiliency training is that we also provide training to the children and parents in your organisation (separately or together). Imagine the difference we can make if the adolescence and middlescence get the same understanding around their thinking; thereby reducing stress.

See www.eibhlinjohnston.com for more information.