Resources for Recovering Resilience: Getting Stuck…Getting Unstuck

I’m one of 20 clinicians offering tools to help clients get unstuck in NICABM’s new series “Getting Unstuck.” offering tools to help clients get unstuck from whatever thoughts and behaviors are causing them grief.

I teach people all over the country now tools to get unstuck from old patterns of belief and behavior in Shift Happens: Learning to Bounce Back from Disappointment, Difficulty, even Disaster workshops. The exercise below – “Noticing and Naming to Create Options” – is one of the exercises I teach pretty much wherever I teach. And I’m teaching in some wonderful venues this spring and summer. Please join me if you can; please try out the exercise below whenever you can.

February 22 and 23 PESI in New Jersey and Pennsylvania

February 24-27 Sivananda Ashram Yoga Center, Bahamas

March 5 The Psychotherapy Institute, Berkeley

March 14-16 PESI in Illinois

March 17-18 Psychotherapy Networker Symposium, Washington, D.C.

April 1 U.S. Journal Training, Las Vegas

May 20-22 Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, Massachusetts

June 27-July 1 Cape Cod Institute, Massachusetts

Noticing and Naming to Create Options

1. Imagine you’re walking down the sidewalk in the neighborhood where you live. You notice a friend walking toward you on the sidewalk on the other side of the somewhat busy street. You call out and wave “hello!” but there’s no response. Notice your own split-second reaction to that “no response” in your own body, a contraction, a drop in energy. Notice whatever thoughts might begin to cascade in response to your body’s reaction. “Hmm, that’s unusual. I’d better try again.” Or “Whew! He has a lot on his mind. I wonder if I should even bother him?” Notice any reactivity to those thoughts. “Gee, he seems a little stuck up today.” Or “Oh, no! What have I done wrong?” Notice if your thoughts follow a pattern that you have noticed before. Feeling badly about yourself or wanting to reach out even more, for example.

2. Now imagine that your friend sees you and, on his own, calls out and waves “hello!” to you. Again, notice your own split-second reaction in your body to him connecting with you now, a smile, an uplift of energy. Bring awareness to any shifts in your body, notice any shifts in your thoughts. “He noticed me!” “I’m glad we weren’t disconnected after all.” As you reflect on your experience, notice if your thoughts follow a pattern that you have also noticed before, perhaps relief or gratitude.

3. Take a moment to name the reactions and the patterns you discovered, with compassion for any reactions that may have been triggered by the noticing. With every moment of practice in noticing and naming, you are strengthening the CEO of resilience. And by pausing to do this, you are conditioning your brain to create choice points, giving yourself the chance to respond with more flexibility and choose a different response the next time.