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Three Frameworks to Build Your Resilience Toolbox

Alright, considering what you now know about stress, our stress response, and how (unskillfully) we use it, our goal should be to minimize the number of times it is triggered and restore balance in its recovery towards greater resiliency.

{This is part 4 of 5 part series on how to build your resilience toolbox. You can start here}

Before I delve into my favorite tools, I’m sharing my favorite frameworks.

The reason is simple—we’ve discussed that being resilient is an ongoing process of harvesting resources for sustained well-being. It’s not a one-time fix; it’s part of life. So, building a toolbox isn’t about adding ten more things to your to-do list. With these two frameworks, you’ll understand what you need, when you need it, and harness resources appropriately.

Plus, you’ll make sense of those hot life hacks on TikTok, Instagram, or wherever you get your social media fix. 😊

Note: If you’re just discovering this article, it’s part 3 of the series. The previous three articles provide essential information to make sense of what follows. So, if you haven’t read them, it’s time to do so (3 mins each!)

Framework #1

The first framework for designing your toolbox becomes very intuitive based on the sequencing of events in your body during the stress response (see part 3 here about the threat response)

  • Before the threat response, your goal is to decrease or prevent triggers. Remember that many triggers (meetings, deadlines, etc.) might feel like a real physical threat to your brain or social wiring. However, thoughts about events trigger the same reaction as the event itself. So, managing your thoughts about events is mandatory (more on this below!)
  • During the threat response, our goal is to notice that we’re in our fight/flight/freeze response before causing any damage (remember, our logical part of the brain is inhibited). Insert a pause and return to calm to choose our response, hopefully with the executive center and not just the emotional brain deciding on the action.
  • After the threat response, we need to ensure rest and recovery to make up for and ensure that cortisol and adrenaline are released from your body.

Framework #2

We often blame our circumstances (that difficult client, giant project, ridiculous deadline, our crazy child, pandemic).

Still, I’m here to argue that you can become happier today, without changing circumstances, if you choose to be resilient and happier.

(Warning!!! Don’t abuse this and remember not to worship resilience, and be critical first about whether circumstances or the root cause need addressing)

The Self-Coaching Model is a truly phenomenal tool—you can use it to gain new insights, solve problems, and produce new results in your life. It shows you how your thoughts produce your feelings, your feelings generate your actions, and your actions cause your results. Circumstances don’t create our experience. Our thoughts about the circumstance do.

I’ll pause here.

And I’ll say this differently—our experience is created by our thoughts about the circumstances around us.

“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.”- Mahatma Gandhi

The cool thing about having this model is that you can reverse engineer things!🤓

Let’s start with the end in mind.

So, in the context of being more resilient, the result you want is to move forward. Moving forward means taking action, so likely you want to feel optimistic, energized, hopeful, etc. Well, for that, you need to choose thoughts that help you feel those feels.

Can you really choose thoughts?!

Yes, my friend, you can!

You cannot stop thoughts or tell yourself not to think about something, but you can choose which ones you let pass and intentionally insert new ones.

For example, if I tell you not to think about a large pink elephant… What are you thinking about? 😊

The key to choosing your thoughts is to never label them “right” vs. “wrong” and instead label only “helpful” vs. “unhelpful.”

Who cares what is right if you want to move forward in the most productive way?!

Here are some examples of unhelpful thoughts and their helpful siblings:

  • “Why is this happening to me” ⇒ “Why not me? What does data say about chances here?”
  • Anything with “should’ve, could’ve, would’ve” is not helpful ⇒ Instead try “What can I learn from this” or “Given what it is now, what will I do differently?”
  • Anything with “always, never, definitely, etc.” ⇒ Is that really true?! What else can be true?

If you’ve ever read about just how important the right (I know I said “right”) mindset is, you understand why. Mindset is just a set of beliefs, and beliefs are repeated thoughts.

There are many tools to help manage thoughts, like journaling, reframing, coaching, therapy, etc. I will share my favorite tools in the next issue.

I also want to point out that you can impact your results by also managing your emotions, not just thoughts.

Did you notice how you can be sad, but when your favorite song comes on the radio, it can shift you to feeling more uplifted?! Yes, we can influence our emotional states as well. You can have a specific playlist you turn to or have items (like pictures) around you that help you feel helpful emotions.

Framework #3

Let’s delve into a more conceptual approach—Mindfulness.

I’m aware you’ve probably heard a lot about it, and there’s a good reason for that!

Notice how, for both frameworks we’ve discussed, you needed to be aware of what is going on with you at any given moment. That’s mindfulness – being aware of what is happening outside of you and inside of you (thoughts, emotions, body sensations) without judgments. Mindfulness is the antithesis of autopilot, constant distractions, and multitasking we’ve become accustomed to. It enhances and fine-tunes your attention focus so you can place it wherever you want it to be.

You can’t manage what you cannot see, so mindfulness is a foundational skill for resilience and happiness in general.

Mindfulness can be cultivated in several ways:

1. Set reminders on your phone at random times. When it goes off, just notice what you are doing, what you’re feeling, how your body is feeling, and what you are thinking.

2. Try mindfulness meditations or any mindful movement, such as yoga or tai chi, to help you train the skills.

3. Choose any activity and turn it into mindfulness training. Remove distractions and choose to focus fully on the task. Every time your mind wanders, bring it back (with no judgments). This can be done during activities like listening, walking, brushing teeth, etc.

Here we go—foundations in place. In the next (and last) part of the series to help you build your resilience toolbox, I will share my top tools for greater resilience.

Hi, I’m Nataliya Becker

I’m an Executive Coach & Team Facilitator. I work with growth-seeking leaders and their teams in the throws of change. Using my “nerdy mind with a hippy heart,” I bring a diverse range of analytical and intuitive approaches to 1:1 coaching, team facilitation, bespoke retreats, and leadership programming.

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