A priority in all therapy is to nurture and strengthen clients’ resilience. Psychological and emotional resilience is the ability to cope successfully with day to day frustrations and disappointments and the bigger challenges if they should come along – crisis and trauma. Resilient people tend to bounce back and sometimes be strengthened by their adverse experiences. They accept what’s happened and soldier on, whereas those who are less resilient can become overwhelmed by circumstances and lose their purpose and direction. Research tells us that we are all born with innate resilience but that some children and adults develop “learned helplessness” by giving into doubts and worries and consequently feel powerless to alter or change unwanted circumstances.
No two people are the same, but psychologists list optimism, hope, a positive attitude, adaptability and an internal locus of control among the factors that add up to a resilient attitude. Locus of control refers to the extent to which individuals believe that they can control the events that affect them. Resilient people take control of their lives believing that they influence what happens. Those with an external locus of control are likely to see themselves as helpless victims with little control over their own lives.
We’ve written before about neuroplasticity – the capacity of the brain to change, to grow new neurons and connections between neurons and how we can consciously engage in practices that influence the function and structure of our brains. There are many techniques that strengthen our capacity for resilience so that we can move through life’s challenges with increased ease. One such technique comes from the field of NLP – by exaggerating and enhancing positive memories of times when we successfully coped strengthens our resilience in the present and for the future.
- Sit quietly, take three deep breaths and begin to relax.
- Bring to mind a memory when you successfully achieved something yourself or a memory when you coped well in challenging circumstances. (It doesn’t matter how insignificant the memory may seem to you.)
- Notice what you feel, see and hear when you recall the memory.
- Exaggerate and enhance the memory to increase the feelings of control, competence and success. Make the memory brighter, clearer and increase the sounds to heighten the positive feelings.
- Enjoy how you are feeling and notice where in your body you are feeling the sensations of control and success.
Do this as often as you like. After all it is pleasant in itself and you will be strengthening neural pathways to increase your resilience.
Jocelyn and Kristina at Trance-Formed