Written by: Claire Pfarr

July 27, 2023

Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Claire. I’m a middle aged woman with a job, a house, a husband, and a couple of cats. Somehow, though, just because of the way life is, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the daily responsibilities we all have. The car is past due for inspection. It’s time for the cats’ vet appointments. I’ve just started a new job and will be traveling soon unexpectedly, even though I just got back from a week of travel for my in-laws’ family reunion. I’m over 40 so I’m supposed to be doing strength training. I haven’t weeded the vegetable garden in ages. When was the last time I did laundry? Uh oh, the vacuum cleaner broke. It’s one thing after another, day in and day out.

I’ve been wanting to drop in on a Circles group for a long time, so when I saw there was a session after my work day called “Nurture Emotional Resilience” with Yamarie Negron, it sounded like something I could totally get behind. I can definitely use some emotional resilience these days, as I’m sure we all can. Here’s what it was like:

Using the App

The Circles app is easy to use and self-explanatory. I already had it downloaded, so I perused the “starting soon” rooms. (You can also check the app or website for a full list of all the upcoming sessions and plan ahead by setting reminders.) The app also listed conversations that were in progress, showing how many people were in each session and who was leading it. 

There were tons of topics to consider and join. I saw every kind of group from grieving the loss of a pet to support for people undergoing cancer treatment and everything in between. I also noticed that there were sessions starting any time–early morning through late at night. This is great for time zone inclusivity and also for those with unique schedules. Need to put the kids to bed and jump on a session at 10pm? No problem–there are rooms available. Early riser? Jump on a 5am session. There are lots of topics and times, so it’s accessible to just about everyone. 

My Session: Nurture Emotional Resilience

When it was time, Yamarie’s session opened and allowed me to click “Listen In.” I found myself in a simple “room” with options for “voice” and “chat.” It’s all text and audio, so I didn’t have to worry about being “camera ready.” I’m also a little bit shy, so I was delighted to see that the “chat” feature allowed me to type responses and comments throughout the conversation without having to speak “in front” of the group. The people in the room are muted and can request to speak so there isn’t a lot of background noise. Yamarie expertly facilitated the conversation, making sure anyone who wanted to speak was unmuted, all while keeping an eye on the chat feature and incorporating everyone’s thoughts and additions. 

Her tone was so welcoming. “Feel free to share,” she’d prompt the group. And she’d acknowledge those who shared, validating their concerns and worries, and asking the group about ways that could help. At any time, people in the room could raise their hand to speak, comment in the chat, or “react” with a heart to show support or answer a “yes/no” question from the host.

Yamarie had great questions to prompt a fruitful discussion. She started by asking the group what brought them to the session. There were a variety of responses–some wanted help with coping with daily stressors, others were going through a particularly difficult time and looking for tactics for staying resilient through the worst of times. 

Yamarie then asked the group what resilience means to them. While there were a lot of great answers, each unique, my favorite may have been from a participant who said, “You’re going to get thrown a few curve balls and I just want to be able to either dodge them, catch them, or duck.” I think we can all agree with that on some level.

Yamarie also asked the group about ways they’ve approached challenges, stress, and adversity in the past. It was refreshing to hear that a lot of the group shared incredibly personal and vulnerable stories about their own experiences. Some admitted to lashing out previously or taking frustrations out on others, and they acknowledged that it’s not always the best way of dealing with challenging situations. 

We were all met with compassion and empathy. “The reason we’ve used some of those mechanisms is that they’ve been effective. They helped us survive, right?” said Yamarie. “Sometimes the same tools we use for resilience and to get through situations and survive can also hurt us, and we tend to outgrow them. You’ve used them not because you’re broken or flawed, but because they’re the only tools and resources you had.” She encouraged us all to allow ourselves to be human and asked that we share ways to make sure our energy isn’t depleted so we can stay resilient in the face of adversity instead of using the tactics that don’t work or aren’t right for us anymore. 

After a bit of discussion, the group noted that we all need to have a full “battery”–meaning, we as humans need to ensure we have the energy and fuel we need to face adversity with resilience. When we don’t build up enough reserves of our own energy and self-care, it’s easy to become depleted and give up in the face of unforeseen challenges. 

The group chimed in with helpful ways to do just that. From mindfulness to setting aside a moment of “me” time to daily affirmations with the kids, it was easy to see that it is possible to keep your “batteries” charged so that when challenges inevitably come, we’re rested and ready to tackle them.

And a bonus fun fact? I learned from one of the group members that Snoop Dogg has affirmation music videos for kids! Who knew!

Overall Impressions

I know it can be scary to enter a “room” (even if it’s virtual) full of strangers. But I came in thinking I’d probably just listen, and by the end I couldn’t type into the chat fast enough. Yamarie did a great job making everyone feel welcome, heard, and valued, and I know we all learned from each other. There really is something special about hearing others’ stories and connecting with them. I think it makes all of us feel less alone. I will definitely be joining more sessions in the near future, and I hope you do, too!