Blog >>TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO BUILD RESILIENCE (EPISODE 2)

Train Your Brain To Build Resilience (EPISODE 2)

Regaining Control

Learn how to deal with negative emotions when they surface and “intentionally cultivate positive ones, such as kindness, gratitude, generosity, delight, and awe. By focusing on positive emotions, you allow your brain to shift its attention away from the negativity bias - (the human tendency to give more psychological weight to negative experiences than the positive ones) - and concentrate more on receptivity and open-mindedness which will increase your response flexibility - (the ability to receive and process a stimulus and respond consciously and wisely rather than immediately and impulsively. Practicing this will strengthen your resilience).

This does not mean that we should in any way ignore or thwart the dark and afflictive emotions, such as anxiety, pain and despair. As a matter of fact, what we must cultivate is the capacity to embrace these difficult emotions by acknowledging, holding and processing them in a way that is healthy and conducive to building enduring and resilient resources, such as social bonds and social support. These resources act not only as a source of comfort but also as a community that can help us put things into perspective. In this way, your responsibility to your own well-being is not to fear or deny your emotions, but instead to learn how to welcome them by experiencing and expressing them in self-enhancing ways.

Practice: Embracing Positivity

  1. Take a moment to reflect on any experience of joy, kindness, gratitude, or awe that you have experienced recently or in the past. Perhaps, a friend dropped by to give you a bag of masks to keep you safe from the coronavirus, or a family member called you out of concern to see how you are doing.

  2. Attune yourself to the positive feeling or “touch” of this moment - a sense of happiness and freedom, a lightness in your heart, or an appreciation of how relaxed, at ease or relieved you feel.

  3. Concentrate on this positive feeling for 10-30 seconds so that you allow your brain to slowly savor, register and store this experience in your long-term memory.

  4. Evoke this memory 5 more times today. Repeating this practice will reactivate the neural firing in your brain, recording this memory so you can recollect it later. In this way, you have this memory as a resource for your own sense of emotional well-being and for strengthening your resilience.

  5. Note that as you learn how to experience and re-experience this moment, you are also becoming better at creating new neural circuits for resilience.

Practice: 2 Techniques for Coping Wisely

As you learn to practice “attending” and “attuning”, you will start to acquire an awareness of how your mind works and how it wanders from one thought to another. Once you begin to see your own habitual thought patterns, it will be easier for you to shift from negativity to positivity. With practice, you will see your capacity to perceive and respond to your emotions improve in a more resilient and positive manner. As a result, you can better choose how you act and respond to real life situations. So, keep practicing until these skills, or should say “healthy habits,” become second nature to you.

Attending

This practice will teach you to become present and aware of your experience without you having to avoid the experience to retain your emotional balance.

  1. Decompress - Sit in a quiet place for 5 minutes. Consciously settle into a sense of presence, knowing you are here, in your body, in your mind, in this moment, in this place.

  2. Be Aware - Whatever thought springs to mind, body sensation you have or feeling that emerges, simply notice and acknowledge it. Allow it to be there and accept that it is there. Don’t wonder about it or try to figure it out, just attend to it enough to register the experience in your awareness.

  3. Choose - At this stage, you have reached a point where you can make a choice. You can either withdraw from attending to the experience of the moment and refocus your attention on the quiet, spacious awareness, or you can keep to the felt sense of this experience that you have experienced to better understand its message.

Attuning

This practice involves recognizing the flavor of a particular emotion. You will learn to label and understand complex, yet subtly nuanced emotions, such as loneliness or suspicion, building your emotional literacy.

  1. Identify - Try to identify any feeling or sensation that you experienced in your body while you were attending. Was your body or a particular part of your body feeling shaky, tight, churning, bubbling, contracting, expanding? Accept it as it is without creating a story about it. Then just feel it and name it.

  2. Label - It may sometimes be challenging to pinpoint the exact nuance or flavor of the message from the experience. So a general label will do, such as lightheartedness, irritation or grief.

  3. Use Wisely - Once you have labeled your emotion, you can clearly make more sense of it in a way that will be useful to you. As a result, you can have the awareness to respond and act wisely as well as the confidence to make better decisions when such an emotion resurfaces.

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