AWC-SB Gets A Booster Shot of Emotional Immunity
By Justine Sutton
AWC-SB members and guests gathered Wednesday, September 9, at 5:30pm for their fall kick-off event with Patricia Schwartz. Ms. Schwartz is a notable Executive Coach, Facilitator, and Trainer and brings a wealth of experience and wisdom to the table, or to the Zoom screen, we should say.
After a little networking and informal chatting, AWC-SB President, Lisa Osborn, welcomed gathered members, established and new, and guests. Ms. Osborn, with KCSB-FM radio in Santa Barbara and also a voiceover narrator, has recently been installed along with a new slate of officers and Board members for the organization.
In Ms. Schwartz’s presentation, Building Emotional Immunity: The Power of Positive Engagement, she shared that in this time of pandemic and lockdown, uncertainty, chaos, and isolation can actually cause loss of brain power. But of course this is a time when we need to be thinking as clearly as possible!
She asked attendees to consider what they wished for more of in this “new normal.”
A few of the responses:
Connection, inclusivity — Peace and sanity — Clarity, energy — Positivity and action
Connection in more than a superficial or virtual way — To feel part of a community.
Per Ms. Schwartz, the Emotional Immunity Experience is a self-directed state of enhanced immunity from your own and others’ reactivity… via the experience of your own positive feelings. Each time we have a pleasurable feeling from an action, the brain releases dopamine, which in the future will create a positive association with that action.
She defined Positive Engagement as the experience of moving toward something we want rather than away from something we want to avoid. Pursuing a positive experience rather than evading an undesirable one puts us in a more proactive and empowered state.
Then we got hands-on… participants were asked to recall a peak experience in their professional, academic or community life. Everyone was assigned a partner in a breakout room with the instructions to each tell their story while their partner listened, and for the listener to then share the positive qualities they heard portrayed in the story.
Asked afterward how they felt sharing a story of success and hearing the positive characteristics exhibited reflected back to them, some participants said:
Strong, powerful, smart, engaged, accomplished
Seen and recognized as my authentic self.
Energy, longing for more of that feeling!
Able to access my emotions easily, I was genuine, and damn funny.
I’m doing what I’m meant to do
At the end one participant said it was “validating and a wonderful privilege to hear someone else’s journey and to bear witness to it.”
Ms. Schwartz let us in on a little secret—the development of emotional immunity can even boost our physical immunity! And we surely can use as much of both as we can get these days.