Resilience is the ability to face challenging life experiences constructively, and bounce back after overcoming traumatic and stressful events, situations, or conditions.
We all know about people who had been able to endure terrible life experiences converting them into gifts. It is also the case in our lives when we look back to realize how much we had overcome.
Nature provides us many examples of adaptations to harsh conditions. Libidibia Coriara is one of the trees that grow in my homeland Paraguana in Venezuela, exemplifying nature’s resilience. The tree’s canopy always points in the direction of the trade winds that persistently blow across the peninsula instead of resisting it.
Developing resilience is a personal journey. People do not all react the same to traumatic and stressful life events. We can notice that our siblings do not recall childhood memories the same way we do. An approach to building resilience that works for one person might not work for another. Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that anyone can learn.
Neuroscience has provided insight into what happens in our brains when we experience a threat. An event might trigger the body’s fight or flight response. The body is ready to react to the perceived danger and the mind shits to a narrow focus. That explains why we become negative and closed-minded. We tend to become critical toward others and ourselves. Our negative self-talk is self-defeating and toxic, taking our peace away.
I came around the work of Shirzad Chamine and his Positive Intelligence model. His work provides a tool kit to quit those voices that undermine our self-confidence and prevent us from achieving our true potential. He calls these inner negative voices, Saboteurs.
According to the Positive Intelligence model, we can increase our mental fitness by staying grounded amidst the swirl of daily life. Just as lifting weights would make our muscles stronger, doing mental reps activate that part of the brain that helps us seek perspective and meaning in the middle of great challenges and crisis.
Here are some steps to calm down the negative voices in your head:
1. Identify the triggers that had caused you to feel under stress.
2. Command those negative voices to stop.
3. Shift your attention to your body and your five senses for at least 10 seconds. Notice the sensations by identifying them and label them in your head. Use breathing to calm yourself down.
4. Use the power of affirmations to switch to positive self-talk.
With a clear and focused mind, we can face any challenge from that part of us that can experience curiosity, joy, creativity, peace, and compassion, instead of experiencing frustration, fear, anger, anxiety, and regret.
You can reduce your mind chatter over time by Intercepting your negative voices. Make them stop and focus on your body for few seconds. I had been practicing this mental routine daily and I can feel a positive impact of a more centered and grounded. With practice, you will gain the self-control that you need to overcome the challenges of daily life.
In this calmer mode, positive self-talk will help you experience self-compassion; explore possibilities without judging them as wrong; innovate new ways or paths; navigate different choices, and respond to demanding situations in a clear-headed and focused way.
You can flow with life as the tree grows in the direction of the wind. With a calmer mind, you can have a more positive outlook. Even setbacks can bring a gift to you when you function from that part of your brain that seeks perspective and purpose in all of your life experiences.