Emotional wellness is the ability to recognize, understand, and accept our feelings and emotions and deal with experiences, difficulties, and life changes.
One way to thoughtfully address life issues is by reading through the original WRAP book and developing a personal wellness toolbox in the WRAP Workbook. Then, commit to using your daily plan, noticing and addressing stressors, and following your action plans to avoid crisis, when possible. If you go through a crisis, WRAP can help you find your way back to emotional wellness. There is a process that works, and emotional wellness is there for you, no matter your circumstances.
Learning to be more aware of your feelings and emotions also allows you to be more prepared to address life events, challenges, struggles, or any situation that may disrupt your emotional balance. For example, dealing with the pandemic was a challenge none of us predicted, but with a WRAP, we were more prepared for this unforeseen crisis. (If you are still struggling with pandemic isolation, another tool you can access at no cost is the Wellness Guide to Overcoming Isolation During COVID-19: Being Connected, Staying Connected, and Choosing Connection.)
Staying focused on the present and honoring the here and now, rather than obsessing about the past or being too focused on the future, also supports healthy emotional well-being. Emotional wellness fosters a happier, more fulfilling life and promotes improved physical, mental, and spiritual wellness.
When we are emotionally well, emotional resilience emerges despite life challenges, hurts, and adverse experiences. Emotional resilience is evidenced through thriving, healing, growing, and transforming negative experiences into positive and profound outcomes.
An individual’s resilience builds through making connections to supporters, recognizing and embracing our positive traits and positive options, and promoting future-oriented goals that transform into having an increased sense of purpose in life.
Consider two gentlemen, Dennis and Lee Horton, who were charged, sentenced, and imprisoned for almost three decades for a crime they did not commit. Imagine the emotional and traumatic impact this had not only on their own lives but also on the lives of their families and loved ones. In an instant, their lives were torn apart and forever changed.
Locked behind prison walls and facing a life sentence without the opportunity to be considered for parole eligibility, Lee and Dennis experienced the adversity of the prison environment and the effects of trauma that transcended what they had experienced thus far in their lives. Growing up in an area that experienced high rates of crime, including violent crime, was not easy. Seeing friends and those they loved impacted by tragedy left deep emotional scars. Then, to face a life in prison seemed an incomprehensible burden.
Yet, rather than succumbing to the despair of their situation, they chose a different path—one of resilience and transformation. Their mother and grandmother, two of their strongest supporters, inspired them to turn their situation into the life purpose of helping others. This inspiration and their own resiliency led them out of the shadows of despair into a life that embraced a daily plan for living their WRAP.
While incarcerated, they became educators, play producers, certified peer specialists, and WRAP Co-Facilitators—which they call their most important role. As two of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections’ first certified WRAP Co-Facilitators, they recognized this was the ingredient that had been missing from the prison program milieu. WRAP was the tool that could be used when supporting men in restrictive housing, addiction programs, hospice, and simply through the everyday life encounters one experiences in prison.
At a time when freedom seemed impossible and emotional resiliency seemed out of reach, they used what they gained through WRAP to find the hope to self-advocate to be considered for commutation. They also took personal responsibility to pursue every opportunity for wellness and growth through enhancing their education and using their supporters to successfully gain their freedom. Not only did WRAP become an invaluable tool in their lives, Lee and Dennis believe it shifted the prison culture into an environment of hope and wellness.
Today, because of their resilience and the evidence that a person can overcome adversities, even in the most difficult times, these two exceptional individuals are still having a profound impact not only on individuals incarcerated in Pennsylvania and other states, but also in communities where they are co-facilitating WRAP and living their WRAPs every day. Today, because of the impact they felt and witnessed with WRAP as the tool to promote and draw on the resiliency of so many lives, they have become Advanced Level WRAP Co-Facilitators.
To learn more about their incredible story and road to freedom, watch episodes 4 and 5 of the PBS series The Power of a Pardon, which features the Horton brothers. It is well worth watching!
Lynn Miller is the Director of WRAP.