Making Connections

Hi!!! And Welcome Back to Motivated Mondays! 

We’re talking about how beliefs impact resilience. 

A quick recap of last week before we continue.

We’ve seen that accurate thinking is a core competency of resilience (1). Last week, we focused on our beliefs and began to understand their impact on resilience and well-being.

Our ability to accurately identify the causes of adversity can increase resilience (1). So we began to examine two types of beliefs: Causal (why things happen to you) and Implication (what you believe about what comes next). We aimed for awareness and accuracy. Asking if our beliefs were - Personal? Permanent? Pervasive? and Accurate? (2)

Accepting my own invitation last week, I took a look at my beliefs and searched for patterns. What did I see? I tend to take situations personally and see them as pervasive. This can be helpful when things are going well as I tend to believe that a situation went well because of something I did (personal) and generalize my success (pervasive). My belief makes me feel capable, which can motivate me to try new things and embrace challenges. After all, I believe I was the reason it went well the last time and that it should be the same in the future, right?

But when things are not going well, it’s a completely different story. If I don’t pause to get accurate, my habitual response remains the same. I still tend to believe situations are both personal and pervasive. Only this time, I assume a situation went poorly because of something I did or did not do,  and I generalize that things will continue to go poorly in the future. 

See the potential danger here?

When I believe that I am responsible for the challenge I face (personal), I respond accordingly. My inner monologue looks something like this - “I messed up. It’s my fault.” Now if this is accurate, it could valuable and help me recognize an area for potential growth. After all, everyone makes mistakes sometimes. But if it is inaccurate, it can cause me to waste energy attempting to fix something that was not my responsibility in the first place. More danger comes, if I project into the future and assume that things will generally go poorly moving forward (pervasive). This assumption can make me feel helpless or incapable of creating positive change (2).  Do you see how this belief makes it difficult to be resilient and bounce back from failure?

Accurate assessment helps us move forward. 

Remember, the ability to step back and get accurate is helpful, and it gives us space to challenge our inaccurate beliefs! When we are accurate, we can address the situations that need our effort and attention and spend less time trying to fix things that are ultimately not within our control. Accuracy conserves our energy and bolsters resilience (1).

Why is this so important?

Because many beliefs are habitual (2).

“Any idiot can face a crisis, it’s the day to day living that wears you out.”
- Anton Chekhov

I love this quote, because it offers a powerful observation about resilience. Our personal beliefs impact our daily life and resilience in small ways that add up over time. Our beliefs are the lens through which we see the world (1), remember? They become the undercurrent during a wave of adversity and can either help us float or drag us under. When our beliefs are inaccurate and unhelpful, our situation is more challenging than it needs to be and drains both our resilience and our energy. Over time, this can quite literally wear us out. Yet, the reverse is also true. If our beliefs are accurate and helpful, they can bolster our energy and help us ride the waves life. So, let’s surf! 

Personal awareness and the accurate identification of beliefs are key to resilience.  

Why?? Our beliefs have consequences.

As we learned with the ABC Model, our beliefs drive emotions and behaviors (1). Yet, we have also seen that it can be difficult to parse out our beliefs from their consequences. Tuning into our inner monologues is not always easy and can be especially challenging in moments of adversity (1). But did you know that there are common connections between particular beliefs and consequences?! Well, it’s true (1,3). Since it is sometimes easier to see where we end up rather than how we got there, I’ve created a bidirectional chart to help us parse out connections and examine how our beliefs affect our consequences.

Check it out!

Does this chart resonate with you? I hope it helps you see the connections between certain beliefs and their emotional and behavioral consequences more easily.

Let me be clear, negative emotions are not ‘bad’. In fact, all of our emotions evolved to signal very important things (1). If you have caused harm to another person, the guilt you feel is an appropriate response and it actually encourages behavior to make a repair. If you feel anxiety, you may be in danger. Again, the question is accuracy. If you are in danger, anxiety is the right response! Your body will prepare you for fight or flight, and it could be a life saving instinct. But when you are not really in danger, anxiety drains resilience. Understanding these connections can be quite powerful and help us accurately identify our beliefs.

Resilient folks have the ability to regulate their emotions and control their personal reactions to respond appropriately in challenging situations (1). Does it mean they never feel down or want to give up? Of course not. Does it mean it is never appropriate to walk away or quit? No. It means that resilient folks can ride emotional waves and have productive responses rather than knee-jerk reactions to triggering events and thoughts. 

This week, I invite you to spend some time with the Belief <—> Consequences Chart I created. Do you find yourself feeling a certain way frequently? If so, what does that say about your beliefs? And are your beliefs an accurate interpretation of your reality? 

I hope you find this helpful and that you enjoy your week! I look forward to connecting next Monday as we continue to learn more about resilience!

Once again special thanks for the thinking and work of the following folks!

References

1. Reivich, K, Shatté, A. The resilience factor: 7 keys to finding your inner strength and overcoming life's hurdles. Random House Digital, Inc; 2003.

2. Seligman, M. Learned optimism. New York: Knopf; 1991.

3. Saltzberg, J. OnSite 2 Slides. Retrieved from https://courseweb.library.upenn.edu; 2014, February 2.