Last week I made some comments about the book, “The Power of Resilience” written by Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein. This week I intend to expand on the first assumption and feature of the resilient mindset, feeling in control of one’s own life.
I received a couple of comments and emails about the nature of control in our lives after last week’s blogs so I will start by laying out what I am referring to here which is very similar to the view put forward by Brooks and Goldstein.
From my perspective the key feature is moving from a place of feeling like a victim to life and stepping into a feeling of self authorship. To expand this is about recognising that we have the ability to make choices in our lives and take ownership of our experience.
A great metaphor springs to mind, I am talking about the difference between being a passenger in your own life and driving the car yourself. You get to choose where you are going, how fast you will go and what route you will take.
If you have read my earlier blogs you will know that I believe we are all living out our lives based on the belief systems created in the first seven years of life. This true unless we have either actively chosen to challenge those beliefs or had some kind of life changing event that has resulted in us re-appraising our approach to existence.
As a result of this early template we fall into many patterns of behaviour and experience that our repeated over and over again. Some of these are self-defeating while others may be positive and uplifting.
From an NLP perspective we would call these repeating patterns of behaviour strategies where if we keep doing what we’ve always done we’ll keep getting what we always got!
From a transactional analysis we would talk about life scripts, mini-scripts and games in particular the drama triangle. Brooks and Goldstein also talk about scripts.
Whatever label we use the issue is the same just with different models and different interventions. The key ingredient to making changes is to recognise that something does need to change and that those changes are within our control.
All the time we focus on what other’s are “doing” to us, the unfairness of life and our sense of powerlessness we are keeping ourselves trapped.
So is everything just our own silly fault?
We need some clarity here before moving on. Accepting your own responsibility is not about saying you got what you deserved, nor is it about letting someone else off the hook for poor behaviour.
For example if someone is bullying you in some way there are several things that need to happen. The first is to look at what you are doing or not doing that is giving that other person permission, encouragement or even an invitation to treat you badly.
Once you have recognised your part in the situation you can start taking steps to make changes however you need to recognise it first. You will then need to make a decision about what you are going to do about the other person’s behaviour.
What you do will depend on the situation. You might decide to stop giving them permission to bully you by changing your behaviour and mindset. This alone is often enough to stop the bully although not always. You might decide to give the bully feedback and/or challenge the behaviour. Alternatively you might decide to remove yourself from the environment where this bullying has been taking place. Another option can be to take some kind of formal action depending on the type of situation, for example workplace bullying might now involve the HR department.
You will notice from the above options that now you have a choice and by taking ownership of the situation you will feel more in control of your life. Just as importantly you are likely to re-examine how you process the situation. When we are in “victim state” we often feel as if there is some unfair conspiracy against us.
“Why are people always picking on me?”
As we take self ownership we start to recognise the pattern that is being recreated in the dynamic and may get an understanding of where this pattern first began and with whom we played out this particular script. This change in mindset will allow us to take a step back from the situation and consider what is really going on.
How else could you perceive the situation?
What else could be the cause?
What do you need to do differently?
Brooks and Goldstein describe “negative scripts” as the blocks to a resilient mindset, reminding us that mindsets can be changed but only when we take ownership. The key point they make is that you will have to change first instead of complaining about how it would be so much better if other people changed.
In other words we can control how we interact with the world but we cannot make anyone else change. However if you change what you are doing, thinking, feeling and behaving it will result in changes in the world around you.
Consider yourself like a jigsaw puzzle piece. In order to run your old strategies you have become very good at identifying other people who are the right “fit” for your pattern. These people have a pattern of their own that plays out the other part of your drama. If no one knew your drama it couldn’t run!
The same holds true for you, change the script and the play changes.
How do we change our scripts?
Firstly you have to get it!
You do have choices and you can make changes in yourself that will give you a happier life! Sometimes we are so attached to being right we forget that we’d rather be happy! By the way if you are reading this and you’d still rather be right, that’s okay that’s your choice, just stop complaining about your life!
Make the decision now, do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?
If you want to be happy keep reading.
Many approaches work from the position of self-awareness as the first step while others work with the idea of changing here and now thought patterns and beliefs. Personally I think a mixture of the two are the way to go.
We often need to understand more about ourselves so that we can feel comfortable making those changes. So yes go ahead and identify your patterns and explore somewhat where they come from.
What can often be unproductive is to spend hours going over the detail of negative, traumatic and unhappy experiences from our childhood.
Using an NLP perspective we can choose to stay detached from the emotion of a past experience while we use an intervention to re-process and re-interpret that experience. By re-processing we make new internal decisions about ourselves and others, we re-model our belief system to the extent that we can remove unwanted repetitive patterns.
In NLP we can draw on many different interventions such as changing beliefs, timeline approaches, change personal history, V-K dissociation and re-emprinting to name just a few. These interventions help us to restructure our automatic behavioural responses by making changes at the level of belief and processing. Our beliefs and processes respond to outside stimulus and when change the encoding in the brain we get new responses. An important part of the process includes modelling a replacement response that is healthier and more positive.
From a transactional analysis perspective we would analyse the repeating behaviour by looking at the transactions, mini-script and life scripts involved. There are likely to be games played out that fit the Drama Triangle model and we can analyse the game to discover how the game runs and what we need to do differently. Often we end up making connections with our “family of origin” and how we are re-creating dynamics from our childhood drama in our adult interactions.
I see this most commonly when working as a mediator or facilitating a team event. In the workplace we often run our family pattern by unconsciously recognising people around us who fit the roles of significant people from our family of origin. We then play out the same dynamic with those people as we did with our families.
It is worth noting here that some of those dynamics will be positive. The negative ones are the patterns that will be causing us stress and conflict. As we decode the dynamic using ego states, drama triangle and drivers we uncover the scripts at play. We can then form a strategy that will allow us to respond differently.
We change our behaviour the pattern disappears!
Brooks and Goldstein suggest that it is pointless seeking happiness by asking someone else to change instead we need to take ownership and realise that we must change first. They suggest that we ask ourselves the following question:
“What is it that I can do differently to change the situation?”
This seems like a sensible question to me regardless of the approach you take after that to create that change.
One final thought for this week, research suggests that people with an optimistic mindset are more resilient than those who are pessimistic. You might want to go back and read my earlier thoughts around optimism (see blogs written last year).
Next week we will explore the resilient mindset assumption that “stress hardiness” also helps develops resilience. Keep the comments and discussion going, I love hearing your perspectives and ideas.
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