resilience quote

Train Strong Mind. Resilient Mind.

Resilience of Mind

One must train their resilience of mind by countering the automatic negativity bias and generalization tendencies everyone has, and fostering core psychological needs in safety, satisfaction, connection, and meaning.

This section is based on the work of Dr. Rick Hanson and a condensed slightly modified version of Hardwiring Happiness. He has done a tremendous job of synthesizing a lot of neuroscience and other research to find what the core psycho-social-physiological needs are for happiness, confidence, and peace of mind. These emotional needs are safety, satisfaction, and connection. I have added “meaning” to these needs.

The purpose of this training of resilience of mind is to help your brain, mind, and body stay in a responsive mode instead of a reactive mode, which is necessary before repairing maladaptive beliefs otherwise the turmoil from the more basic and powerful systems of the lower brain regions and circuits will impede the functioning and effectiveness of the interventions if not regulated first.

Negativity Bias & Generalization Tendency

The unconscious way that we take in information and experiences is generalized and negatively biased so as to detect threats. The brain has a negativity bias and tendency to generalize information that comes in. This is for survival purposes so that we can react to possible threats as soon as possible. There is not much context when we initially perceive something and so we tend to see the negative first and make wild associations so we can become aware of possible danger to avoid it.

This worked great for life and death situations for our ancestors, and it still can for extreme situations today, however it can be maladaptive for living in society when the stresses are not life and death. The same stress response systems activate (on a spectrum of course), but this can tax your body’s resources and also impair how well your more calm and contextual mental capabilities function.

The negativity bias in the brain leads to a skewed view of the world that over time gets built up in our implicit memory. The objective then is to counter this tendency by accentuating the experiences we have or have had, or want to have through self-directed neuroplasticity.

Changing the contents of implicit memories alters your sense of self, view of the world, stance you take, how you cope, your metabolic state, how your bodily systems operate, effect on your health, and your subjective experience. To do this, we can notice what is already present, imagine the experience or situation, or create the experience by taking a new behavior or making a new choice.

It is not as important to find where the deficit in the core need is as it is to engage in experiences that foster the fulfillment of the needs. For every new experience you are trying to cultivate, use the imprinting exercises to help foster neuroplasticity (imprinting) of implicit memory.

4 Core Needs

Humans seem to have four core needs and these relate to:

  1. Safety or Avoiding Harms
  2. Approaching or engaging in that which is rewarding
  3. Connection with others
  4. Meaning, purpose, and the possibility of bettering oneself, the world, and humanity

Responsive Mode

When one has their respective core needs met to a great extent the body and brain become in a responsive mode in which the person experiences:

  1. Relaxation, calm, and peace (Safety)
  2. Gratitude, gladness, accomplishment, and contentment (Satisfaction)
  3. Belonging, intimacy, compassion, kindness, worth, and love (Connection)
  4. Exhilaration, anticipation, motivation, and drive (Meaning)

Reactive Mode

When someone does not have those respective core needs met, one’s brain and body goes into a reactive state and experiences:

  1. Threat and fear (Danger)
  2. Loss and frustration (Dissatisfaction)
  3. Rejection and heartache (Disconnection)
  4. Avolition and lack of motivation (Purposelessness)

Taking in the Positive

The first place to start to cultivate these needs is by getting practice of generally taking in the positive. Thus, the exercises in this subsection involve cultivating the implicit background awareness of that which is perceived as “positive”. Remember to use the imprinting exercises below to embody what we go over. This is an “express” version of the imprinting exercises tailored for this subsection. Note that the “reconsolidate” part of the imprinting exercises will be introduced in the “Cultivating Core Needs” section of this chapter. Here is a template you can use to help foster implicit memory formation after each of the tools in this section:

Self-Directed Neuroplasticity

  • 10 Seconds to Form Implicit Memory
      1. It takes about 10 seconds to begin to form a little bit of implicit memory, so each step needs to last about 10 seconds
  • Present & Body Awareness
      1. Become aware of your body in the everflowing present moment. This facilitates greater awareness of your experience which in turn enhances implicit memory formation.
  • Unified Intention
      1. Become aware of whether what you are trying to cultivate is actually true or more adaptive to your life in the present and, if so, be aware of this felt sense of this for 10 seconds as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  • Image
      1. See a picture or imagine or sense the image of it in your mind and feel the feeling that is associated with it. Images have more of a direct connection to emotions, and can elicit emotions much quicker and with greater intensity, thus facilitating the process of neuroplasticity.
  • Action 
      1. What action would reflect this need, new perspective, way of being, or solution in a context where you have felt, or would feel, the opposite of this? Engage in this action slowly and mindfully in your role-play or imagination of the context.Do this for at least 10 seconds while being aware of your experience in your body.
      2. Do the action or role-play of the more adaptive experience (thinking, dreaming the feeling, movement, expression, etc) in a slow manner. This dynamic experience and embodied action simulates the type of dynamic lived experience that forms implicit memory in the first place.
  • Notice Enjoyable Feelings & Sensations
      1. Notice the enjoyable feelings and sensations of the experience for 10 seconds as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  • Savour the Experience
      1. Savour the emotionally rewarding and enjoyable experience of the new way of being for 10 seconds as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  • Novel
      1. Be aware of the new and fresh aspect and emotionally rewarding feeling of this new way of being for 10 seconds as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
    1. Benefits
      1. Think about what the benefits of having this (or more) experience or the effects of this experience are (health, happiness, love, etc.)? What is the relevance of it to your needs, wants, and life overall? Become aware of the benefits to your health and thriving from feeling, believing, and acting this way as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  • Deepen
      1. Imagine/sense the new positive experience sinking down into your muscles and bones for 10 seconds as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  • Fill
      1. Imagine/sense the new positive experience filling up your body for 10 seconds as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  • Kinaesthetic
      1. Put your hand on your chest or other part of your body for 10 seconds as
      2. you are aware of the felt sense of the new positive experience as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  • Link
    1. Think of a similar time you felt like this, or a positive thought, feeling, or image that reminds you of this experience. This creates an association. Allow this to fill up and sink-into your whole body. Be aware of a similar time when you have felt this way even if it is a little bit. Stay with both the new positive experience and the old positive experience for 10 seconds and savour as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  1. Calm Place
    1. Think of or recall a place – real or imaginary – where you feel safe, protected, calm, clear, and content. Notice what you see in this place specifically. What do you smell? What do you hear? What tactile senses are you noticing? Stay with and linger on this experience as you are aware of your body. Notice any enjoyable sensations of calm and relaxation – even if a little – and stay with this for 20 seconds.
  2. Gently become aware of your body and stay with this embodied awareness.
  3. Move or shift your body to get comfortable.
  4. Slow your breathing down. Make your breathing smooth, even, and rhythmic while being aware of your body in the everflowing present moment. This facilitates greater awareness of your experience and change
  5. Choose something to look at that is enjoyable where you are.
    1. Be aware of what you are looking at for 10 seconds as you are experiencing looking at it in the flowing present moment of experience. Be aware of your body as a whole as you are doing this.
    2. Notice the pleasure that is intrinsic in tapping into direct physical sensorial experience. Stay with and savour this experience for 10 seconds.
  6. Become aware of sounds that you hear around you. Choose one that is relatively calming.
    1. Stay with what you are hearing for 10 seconds as you are experiencing hearing it in the flowing present moment of experience. Be aware of your body as a whole as you are doing this.
    2. Notice the pleasure that is intrinsic in tapping into direct physical sensorial experience. Stay with and savour this experience for 10 seconds.
  7. Become aware of any scents where you are.
    1. Be aware of the scent as you are experiencing it in the everflowing present moment of experience. Be aware of your body as a whole as you do this.
    2. Notice the pleasure that is intrinsic in tapping into this direct physical sensorial experience. Stay with and savour this experience for 10 seconds.
  8. Notice any tactile sensations you are already experiencing or you can pick something up to engage your tactile sense.
    1. Be aware of the tactile sensations as you are experiencing it in the everflowing present moment. Be aware of your body as a whole as you do this.
  9. Notice the pleasure that is intrinsic in tapping into this direct physical sensorial experience. Stay with and savour this experience for 10 seconds.
  10. Gently become aware of your body as a whole again and stay with this embodied awareness for 10 seconds noticing
  11. Move or shift your body to get comfortable.
  12. Take a slow deep breath and exhale slowly.
  13. Well done. You may wish to pause or take a break before embarking on the next exercise, or you may choose to continue on throughout your day now. Best wishes until the next exercise.

Recent

Let’s start off with recent positive stimuli. Think of something recent that was positive. It could be simply seeing a beautiful landscape, or seeing the smile or gratitude of another. When you have thought of  whichever one you would like to do, stay with it for 10 seconds and complete the self-directed neuroplasticity exercise. Do the self-directed neuroplasticity exercise for each category of need.

Conditions

Now let’s look at any conditions that meets your needs. This could be having food in the fridge, or a roof over your head, or even fresh air. When you have thought whichever one you would like to do, stay with it for 10 seconds and complete the self-directed neuroplasticity exercise. Do the self-directed neuroplasticity exercise for each category of need.

Qualities

Qualities are also a category of positive stimuli that we can take in and cultivate implicit memory of. What are some qualities that you have demonstrated that you value and would like more of? Some examples of qualities may be humour, sincerity, generosity, compassion, efficacy, strength, etc. Even if there are exceptions or other baggage associated with it, just focus on the positive aspect of the experience and make it embodied through the imprinting exercise. When you have thought whichever one you would like to do, stay with it for 10 seconds and complete the self-directed neuroplasticity exercise. Do the self-directed neuroplasticity exercise for each category of need.

Present

The next category of positive stimuli pertains to the immediate present. Notice something in the immediate environment through your 5 senses or certain knowing. There may be other negative associations or “baggage”, but just gently and gradually shift your attention back to the focus of the exercise. This may be a constant process, so be gentle and gradual in shifting your attention back

Past

This domain of positive stimuli relates to past experience. What are some past experiences where you felt happy, connected, safe, or inspired? When you have thought whichever one you would like to do, stay with it for 10 seconds and complete the self-directed neuroplasticity exercise. Do the self-directed neuroplasticity exercise for each category of need.

Future

In the domain of potential future positive stimuli, consider any anticipated or possible positive experiences where you will be safe, connected, satisfied, or inspired.When you have thought whichever one you would like to do, stay with it for 10 seconds and complete the self-directed neuroplasticity exercise. Do the self-directed neuroplasticity exercise for each category of need.

Sharing with Others

Regarding generosity and reciprocity, either create or recall an experience where you shared something with another in which it helped you feel safe, connected, satisfied, or inspired. When you have thought whichever one you would like to do, stay with it for 10 seconds and complete the self-directed neuroplasticity exercise. Do the self-directed neuroplasticity exercise for each category of need.

Finding Good in the Bad

Even in negative experiences there is some good – it can be a learning experience for patience or forgiveness. When you have thought whichever one you would like to do, stay with it for 10 seconds and complete the self-directed neuroplasticity exercise.

Caring about Others

For the domain of caring for others, who or what do you feel caring toward? Or, recall a time where you did. If this is too difficult, imagine the felt sense of what this might even feel like. When you have thought whichever one you would like to do, stay with it for 10 seconds and complete the self-directed neuroplasticity exercise..

Good Facts

What are some facts you are aware of that give you a feeling of safety, satisfaction, connection, or that is meaningful to you? Do the following exercise for each category of need. When you have thought whichever one you would like to do, stay with it for 10 seconds and complete the self-directed neuroplasticity exercise.

Things that Could be True

What are some possible things that could be true which helps you feel safe, connected, satisfied, or inspired. Do the self-directed neuroplasticity exercise for each category of need.

Things You Want to Be True 

What are some positive things you want to be true in which you will be and feel safe, connected, satisfied, or inspired. Do the following exercise for each category of need. When you have thought of the first one you would like to cultivate, stay with it, and:

Cultivating Core Needs

We come now to cultivating the core needs and this involves identifying sub-components of the various needs to better target which facets of the needs are currently a deficit so you can cultivate this specific aspect of the core need. The key feature of cultivating core needs is to do this when you are feeling the antithesis of the need. This is in contrast to solely taking in the positive. For example, when you are experiencing a feeling of “weakness”, an exercise in this section can help to reconsolidate the implicit memory if this implicit memory is the cause of the internal simulation of “weakness”.

However, in the spirit of ‘taking in the positive’ cultivating the core needs can also help as a stand alone exercise even when you are not experiencing the antithesis of the need. It is important to remember that this only provides greater resilience and does not change the internal simulation creating the inner turmoil. It helps build up resilience, though. For core needs experiences that actually involve implicit memory “reconsolidation”, this is a great foundational practice for when more complex processing is needed in future sections which involves dynamic exploration and multiple methods of fostering perspective in addition to implicit memory reconsolidation.

For exercises pertaining to cultivating the core needs, remember, imagine, or create an experience for the positive needs below. The focus should be on embodying the positive experience because the purpose of this chapter is to increase your inner psychological resources and resilience. Focus on doing one sub-category (e.g., strength) per day at least 3 times throughout the day for 30 secs each time. Here is a template you can utilize for each of the tools to facilitate implicit memory formation:

Self-Directed Neuroplasticity

  • 10 Seconds to Form Implicit Memory
      1. It takes about 10 seconds to begin to form a little bit of implicit memory, so each step needs to last about 10 seconds
  • Present & Body Awareness
      1. Become aware of your body in the everflowing present moment. This facilitates greater awareness of your experience which in turn enhances implicit memory formation.
  • Unified Intention
      1. Become aware of whether what you are trying to cultivate is actually true or more adaptive to your life in the present and, if so, be aware of this felt sense of this for 10 seconds as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  • Image
      1. See a picture or imagine or sense the image of it in your mind and feel the feeling that is associated with it. Images have more of a direct connection to emotions, and can elicit emotions much quicker and with greater intensity, thus facilitating the process of neuroplasticity.
  • Action 
      1. What action would reflect this need, new perspective, way of being, or solution in a context where you have felt, or would feel, the opposite of this? Engage in this action slowly and mindfully in your role-play or imagination of the context.Do this for at least 10 seconds while being aware of your experience in your body.
      2. Do the action or role-play of the more adaptive experience (thinking, dreaming the feeling, movement, expression, etc) in a slow manner. This dynamic experience and embodied action simulates the type of dynamic lived experience that forms implicit memory in the first place.
  • Notice Enjoyable Feelings & Sensations
      1. Notice the enjoyable feelings and sensations of the experience for 10 seconds as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  • Savour the Experience
      1. Savour the emotionally rewarding and enjoyable experience of the new way of being for 10 seconds as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  • Novel
      1. Be aware of the new and fresh aspect and emotionally rewarding feeling of this new way of being for 10 seconds as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  • Benefits 
      1. Think about what the benefits of having this (or more) experience or the effects of this experience are (health, happiness, love, etc.)? What is the relevance of it to your needs, wants, and life overall? Become aware of the benefits to your health and thriving from feeling, believing, and acting this way as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  • Deepen
      1. Imagine/sense the new positive experience sinking down into your muscles and bones for 10 seconds as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  • Fill
      1. Imagine/sense the new positive experience filling up your body for 10 seconds as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  • Kinaesthetic
      1. Put your hand on your chest or other part of your body for 10 seconds as
      2. you are aware of the felt sense of the new positive experience as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  • Link
      1. Think of a similar time you felt like this, or a positive thought, feeling, or image that reminds you of this experience. This creates an association. Allow this to fill up and sink-into your whole body. Be aware of a similar time when you have felt this way even if it is a little bit. Stay with both the new positive experience and the old positive experience for 10 seconds and savour as you continue to slowly engage in your new way of being in the imagined or role-play situation and interaction.
  • Reconsolidate
      1. What action would reflect this need, new perspective, way of being, or solution in a context where you would typically feel the opposite of it? Engage in the new action slowly and mindfully in your role-play or imagination of the context.Do this for at least 10 seconds while being aware of your experience in your body.
      2. What positive feelings are present as you are engaging in the new experience? Be aware of the felt sense of this in your body. Stay with this for 10 seconds while being aware of your experience in your body.
      3. What thoughts might go along with this new perspective or way of being? Stay with this for 10 seconds while being aware of your experience in your body.
      4. What kind of sensations in your embodied experience might you feel with this new perspective or way of being? Stay with this for 10 seconds while being aware of your experience in your body.
      5. Be aware of any automatic feelings, thoughts, sensations, images or impressions that arise as you do this. If there are any, be aware of these and at the same time be aware of the new adaptive or realistic embodied experience you are engaging in. As you are slowly engaging in the experience, allow your embodied awareness and attention to oscillate slowly back and forth noticing the sharp juxtaposition or distinction between the new embodied experience and the automatic feelings, thoughts, sensations, images or impressions arising.Take as long as you need.
  • Calm Place
  1. Think of or recall a place – real or imaginary – where you feel safe, protected, calm, clear, and content. Notice what you see in this place specifically. What do you smell? What do you hear? What tactile senses are you noticing? Stay with and linger on this experience as you are aware of your body. Notice any enjoyable sensations of calm and relaxation – even if a little – and stay with this for 20 seconds.
  2. Gently become aware of your body again and stay with this embodied awareness.
  3. Move or shift your body to get comfortable.
  4. Slow your breathing down. Make your breathing smooth, even, and rhythmic while being aware of your body in the everflowing present moment. This facilitates greater awareness of your experience and change.
  5. Choose something to look at that is enjoyable where you are.
    1. Be aware of what you are looking at for 10 seconds as you are experiencing looking at it in the flowing present moment of experience. Be aware of your body as a whole as you are doing this.
    2. Notice the pleasure that is intrinsic in tapping into direct physical sensorial experience. Stay with and savour this experience for 10 seconds.
  6. Become aware of sounds that you hear around you. Choose one that is relatively calming.
    1. Stay with what you are hearing for 10 seconds as you are experiencing hearing it in the flowing present moment of experience. Be aware of your body as a whole as you are doing this.
    2. Notice the pleasure that is intrinsic in tapping into direct physical sensorial experience. Stay with and savour this experience for 10 seconds.
  7. Become aware of any scents where you are.
    1. Be aware of the scent as you are experiencing it in the everflowing present moment of experience. Be aware of your body as a whole as you do this.
    2. Notice the pleasure that is intrinsic in tapping into this direct physical sensorial experience. Stay with and savour this experience for 10 seconds.
  8. Notice any tactile sensations you are already experiencing or you can pick something up to engage your tactile sense.
    1. Be aware of the tactile sensations as you are experiencing it in the everflowing present moment. Be aware of your body as a whole as you do this.
  9. Notice the pleasure that is intrinsic in tapping into this direct physical sensorial experience. Stay with and savour this experience for 10 seconds.
  10. Gently become aware of your body as a whole again and stay with this embodied awareness for 10 seconds noticing
  11. Move or shift your body to get comfortable.
  12. Take a slow deep breath and exhale slowly.
  13. Well done. You may wish to pause or take a break before embarking on the next exercise, or you may choose to continue on throughout your day now. Best wishes until the next exercise.

Safety

Strength

Take a slow and relaxing deep breath and exhale slowly and fully as much as you can while staying relaxed. Allow your muscles to loosen and release as you exhale. Slowly, gradually, and lightly bring your awareness to the present and at the same time become aware of when you have felt a sense of inner strength in the past, or imagine what it might feel like to have felt a sense of strength.

You may also be aware of a time you felt physical strength instead of or to complement inner strength. Be aware of the felt sense of this strength in your body and any feelings of greater safety, Stay with this experience for at least 10 seconds. Be aware of your body in the present flowing moment and the movement while you feel and experience this.

Agency

Take a slow and relaxing deep breath and exhale slowly and fully as much as you can while staying relaxed. Allow your muscles to loosen and release as you exhale. Slowly, gradually, and lightly bring your awareness to the present and at the same time become aware of when you have felt a strong sense of self in the past, or imagine what it might feel like to have felt a sense of agency and empowerment.

Protection 

Take a slow and relaxing deep breath and exhale slowly and fully as much as you can while staying relaxed. Allow your muscles to loosen and release as you exhale. Slowly, gradually, and lightly bring your awareness to the present and at the same time become aware of when you have felt protected in the past or currently, or imagine what it might feel like to have felt a protection and the calmness that is experience with feeling protected.

Satisfaction

Gratitude

Take a slow and relaxing deep breath and exhale slowly and fully as much as you can while staying relaxed. Allow your muscles to loosen and release as you exhale. Slowly, gradually, and lightly bring your awareness to the present and at the same time become aware of when you have felt gratitude in the past or currently, or imagine what it might feel like to have felt a sense of gratitude.

Accomplishment

Take a slow and relaxing deep breath and exhale slowly and fully as much as you can while staying relaxed. Allow your muscles to loosen and release as you exhale. Slowly, gradually, and lightly bring your awareness to the present and at the same time become aware of when you have felt a sense of accomplishment in the past, or imagine what it might feel like to have felt a sense of accomplishment.

Contentment & Fulfillment

Take a slow and relaxing deep breath and exhale slowly and fully as much as you can while staying relaxed. Allow your muscles to loosen and release as you exhale. Slowly, gradually, and lightly bring your awareness to the present and at the same time become aware of when you have felt a sense of calm satisfaction in the past or imagine what it might feel like to have felt a sense of calm contentment or excited satisfaction. Notice the stillness or excitement as you stay with this sense of fulfillment.

Connection

Empathy

Take a slow and relaxing deep breath and exhale slowly and fully as much as you can while staying relaxed. Allow your muscles to loosen and release as you exhale. Slowly, gradually, and lightly bring your awareness to the present and at the same time become aware of when you have felt a sense of calm satisfaction in the past or imagine what it might feel like to have felt a sense of calm contentment and satisfaction. Notice the stillness as you stay with this sense of calm fulfillment.

Loved

Take a slow and relaxing deep breath and exhale slowly and fully as much as you can while staying relaxed. Allow your muscles to loosen and release as you exhale. Slowly, gradually, and lightly bring your awareness to the present and at the same time become aware of when you have felt a sense of being loved or cared for in the past or creatively imagine the felt sense of what it might feel like.

Belonging

Take a slow and relaxing deep breath and exhale slowly and fully as much as you can while staying relaxed. Allow your muscles to loosen and release as you exhale. Slowly, gradually, and lightly bring your awareness to the present and at the same time become aware of when you have felt a sense of belonging in the past or imagine the felt sense of belonging.

Meaning

Inspiration

Take a slow and relaxing deep breath and exhale slowly and fully as much as you can while staying relaxed. Allow your muscles to loosen and release as you exhale. Slowly, gradually, and lightly bring your awareness to the present and at the same time become aware of when you have felt inspired in the past or creatively imagine the felt sense of what it might feel like.

Purpose

Take a slow and relaxing deep breath and exhale slowly and fully as much as you can while staying relaxed. Allow your muscles to loosen and release as you exhale. Slowly, gradually, and lightly bring your awareness to the present and at the same time become aware of when you have felt a sense of purpose in the past or creatively imagine the felt sense of what it might feel like to feel purpose.

Big Picture

Take a slow and relaxing deep breath and exhale slowly and fully as much as you can while staying relaxed. Allow your muscles to loosen and release as you exhale. Slowly, gradually, and lightly bring your awareness to the present and at the same time become aware of when you have felt, experienced, or seen the big picture, or creatively imagine the felt sense of what it might feel like to see and experience a big picture perspective of life and your situation.