Resilience as we age
14 November 2016
Resilience as we age
Thursday, 17 November, author Patti Clark will be speaking on the theme of resilience as we age and her new book This Way Up at Epsom Library from 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm.
“The goal of resilience is to thrive, and we all want to thrive. Resilience has been defined as that quality that allows some people face adversity and come back even stronger than before” says Patti.
Taking a page out of the research, her event aims to reframe, find character strength and inspire those that are a little less resilient than they’d like to be.
“If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it” she says.
The author notes much has been written about the aging process and resilience.
She also points out the word ‘resilience’ is often overused. It’s used too often in ways that drain it of meaning. But resilience doesn’t have to be an empty or vague concept Patti believes.
She refers to decades of research that has revealed a lot about how resilience works and ultimately, it is a set of skills that can be taught.
“Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient: a positive attitude and optimism certainly help; even after difficult circumstances, such as an earthquake, resilient people are able to shift course and carry on.”
She mentions that resilience is considered such an important trait that in February this year, The New Yorker Magazine did a piece about the secret formula for resilience – ‘How People Learn to Become Resilient.’
“The good news is that resilience can be taught. In research at Columbia, the neuroscientist Kevin Ochsner has shown that teaching people to think of stimuli in different ways—to reframe them in positive terms when the initial response is negative, or in a less emotional way when the initial response is emotionally “hot”—changes how they experience and react to the stimulus” she says.
But as we age and face difficulties, it’s easy to feel less than resilient.
“It’s easy to lose touch with that sense of resilience, and instead struggle on with feeling purposeless and directionless. It is very easy to fall into a sense of listlessness and ‘stuck-ness.’”
She wants to alter this belief that nothing will change to avoid it becoming embedded in the brain, creating a negative neural pathway. A neural pathway is the way that information travels through the neurons, or nerve cells of the brain. We create new neural pathways every time we hear or experience something new. The more we experience something, the more embedded this pathway becomes.
Changing neural pathways is not an easy task once they are deeply embedded, Patti explains.
But in her workshop she hopes to start a process to make a difference, a process that actually changes the neural pathways in the brain, taking limiting beliefs and creatively transform them so they become supportive rather than destructive.
“Resilience is such an important character strength in Positive Psychology. A resilient person works through challenges by using personal resources, strengths and other positive capacities of psychological capital such as hope, optimism and self-efficacy. Being resilient is linked with a person’s happiness. “
Workshop facilitator and speaker Patti Clark, author of This Way Up: Seven Tools for Unleashing Your Creative Self and Transforming Your Life has been dedicated to helping people through various life transitions for more than 20 years. With her process, Creative Positive Reframing (CPR), she identifies 3 key actions that people can take right now to move through this sense of stuck-ness toward one of more resiliency.
Start by using these Three Tools – Identify, Reframe, Embed:
1. Identify Negative Messages
Action: We all have them – limiting beliefs that have become embedded in our head. Negative thoughts such as, "I can’t do it!” Or "It’s too hard!” are self-sabotaging.
Practice: Interrupt it! Once you've identified those negative messages, shift your focus. Take a deep breath and interrupt your own train of thought . . . and get rid of it!
2. Reframe the negative with positive statements
Action: Negative self-talk can be replaced by positivity with the help of a series of deliberate affirmations or questions. This creates new neural pathways and frees you from the negative spiral.
Practice: Affirm it! Create positive statements and questions. Affirmations often work, but sometimes questions work better. If your affirmation is, "I can do it. This is easy!" and your brain argues back “No you can’t It’s too hard!” then use a question instead. Something like: "What can I do today to move forward?" Or mix the two in this way: “I am moving forward easily and effortlessly. What can I do today to move forward?”
3. Embed it! Use Creative Visualization to picture the ideal and embed it in your brain
Action: This next step takes the previous step and solidifies it; it is a powerful process. Creative Visualization is a technique which uses your own power of ‘seeing’ to attain that which you most want or want to change. You already use this technique every day. Unfortunately, we often use it in the negative by imaging all the things we DON'T want.
Practice: Visualize it! The key to visualization is to first see what you want, and then create a mindset that you already have it and you believe you deserve it. Relax and be sure you won't be interrupted. Close your eyes and let the movie of you having your heart’s desire run in your mind. Enjoy the process. The more you do this, the more deeply embedded this vision becomes.
So, the next time you find yourself falling into a negative spiral about yourself and are feeling hopeless and stuck, try using the tools that neuroscience has shown to be effective, by reframing your thoughts in positive terms. Use these tools to tackle limiting beliefs, and transform that negativity into something that is supportive rather than destructive.
Patti Clark is an accomplished speaker and workshop leader dedicated to helping people through various life transitions on their journey to an extraordinary life. For more than 30 years, and over several continents, Patti has been sharing her knowledge and wisdom with others. She is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from U.C. Berkeley. She has taught English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and at Oregon State University. As author of This Way Up: Seven Tools for Unleashing Your Creative Self and Transforming Your Life, Patti has been featured on TVNZ’s Breakfast show, and her work has been featured in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, and The Mindful Word. She has dual citizenship with the United States and New Zealand. She lives with her family by the beach on the Coromandel Peninsula.
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