Our last Refocus event for our Strive community focused on Resilience. Clinical Hypnotherapist, Kris Sanders spoke on different techniques we can use to build our resilience including fear-setting, CBT techniques and thought-challenging. For those who missed the event, we have an overview below. 
Resilience is simply defined as how we cope when we face adversity. Dating back to over 2000 years ago, Stoics were fascinated by looking at different ways of living the best life possible. This included preparing for any situation. They would think of worst-case scenarios and ensure they had planned for it. Although nowadays, we tend to focus on positive thinking (which is also helpful,) negative visualisation like this can also be useful. However, constantly imagining worst-case scenarios can cause us anxiety. This is why we need to do so in a systematic way - for example by written exercises like Fear-Setting. 
 
 
Kris explained that how we perceive stress is key to building resilience. Lazarus, the creator of multimodal therapy, looked at stressors as either causing a threat, harm, challenge or benefit. Looking at a potential stressor as a challenge can help us to decrease anxiety and improve how we respond to it. For example, if we can see getting a piece of work in for a deadline as a challenge rather than a threat, we are likely to perform better than if we were overwhelmed with anxiety. 
 
CBT also incorporates Beck’s Cognitive Triad of Depression. These three key elements: negative views of the world, the future and oneself are the beliefs present in someone with Depression. Over time, these beliefs can become automatic and feel uncontrollable - becoming core beliefs. These are much harder to disrupt than normal beliefs. 
The cornerstone of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is this model. Changing one component will lead to changes in the others. For example, if we force ourselves to change a behaviour, eventually our thoughts and emotions about completing this behaviour will change also. Changing our negative behaviours consistently through repetition will allow us to feel more comfortable and therefore build resilience. 
So how do we build resilience? 
 
We can build resilience by disputing unhelpful and irrational beliefs and exchanging these for new rational ones. This ABCDE model can help us to understand how. 
 
 
 
To dispute our beliefs, Kris explained that we must first identify our belief about an event and the consequence it brings. For example: 
 
A= Not going to the gym 
B= I must feel ready before I go to the gym. 
C= We feel bad about ourself. 
 
We then need to dispute and exchange the belief. To do this, we change our demands to preference. For example, instead of telling yourself “I must feel ready before I go to the gym” we change this to “I would prefer to feel ready to go to the gym but I can push myself to go at any time.” 
 
We can help exchange these beliefs by asking ourselves 5 simple questions. 
 
The 5 Rational Questions - Maultsby 
 
There are 5 questions we can use to challenge a belief or thought. 
 
1. Is my thought based on objective fact? 
 
2. Will acting on my thought best help me protect my life and health? 
 
3. Will acting on my thought best help me achieve my short and long term goals? 
 
4. Will acting on my thought best help me avoid my most dreaded conflicts with others? 
 
5. Does my thought best help me feel the emotions I want to feel without drugs or alcohol? 
 
If we answer no to 3 out of 5 of these questions, we know that this thought/belief is irrational. If we use our example: 
 
Thought: I must feel ready before I go to the gym. 
 
Is my thought based on objective fact? 
No, I am able to go the gym before I feel ready. 
 
Will acting on my thought best help me protect my life and health? 
No. Going to the gym will improve my physical and mental health. 
 
Will acting on my thought best help me achieve my short and long term goals? 
No. My goal is to exercise more and not going to the gym will sabotage this goal. 
 
Will acting on my thought best help me avoid my most dreaded conflicts with others? 
Not relevant. 
 
Does my thought best help me feel the emotions I want to feel without drugs or alcohol? 
No. Not going causes me to feel down about myself. 
 
With all 4 relevant questions being answered no, we know that the belief is irrational. We can then exchange this for the new thought of preference - I would prefer to feel ready to go to the gym but I can push myself to go at any time. 
 
We can then repeat the process to check if our new thought is rational. 
 
Thought: I would prefer to feel ready to go to the gym but I can push myself to go at any time. 
 
Is my thought based on objective fact? 
Yes 
 
Will acting on my thought best help me protect my life and health? 
Yes. Going to the gym will improve my health. 
 
Will acting on my thought best help me achieve my short and long term goals? 
Yes, going will help me achieve my goal of exercising more. 
 
Will acting on my thought best help me avoid my most dreaded conflicts with others? 
Not relevant. 
 
Does my thought best help me feel the emotions I want to feel without drugs or alcohol? 
Yes. If I go, I will avoid feelings of disappointment and instead feel proud of myself. 
 
We can see that with answering yes to all relevant questions, this new thought is rational and helpful. 
 
Another way we can challenge our thoughts and therefore increase our resilience is by thought forms. A simple yet effective thought form can be seen below. 
When using this thought-form, we will tend to see that the rational thought benefits outweigh the irrational ones - providing our mind with yet more evidence for the new rational belief. 
 
Kris highlighted the importance of being proactive rather than reactive. He recommends that we use these practices of disputing and exchanging beliefs to build our resilience before the activating event happens. This way, our cognition isn’t affected by a cloud of anxiety. 
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