Resilience Is a Verb

Resilience Is a Verb

As we learned in this interview with Dr. Elisha Goldstein, resilience is not a noun, something to achieve, but a verb, something to live.  Here’s an exercise from Resilience that can help us live into positive changes in our lives very quickly.

Change Every Should to Could

We all have unconscious patterns in our language that filter how we perceive our experiences and thus shape how we respond to them. Should is one of them. I have to is another. Because should and have to imply obligation, duty, even judgments of right or wrong, the mind contracts. Should creates an unconscious expectation and sets us up for criticism if we “fail” to perform. Could creates an unconscious perception of possibility and sets us up for pride in our learning and growth.  Changing every should to could opens up possibilities and choice, and thus strengthens response flexibility. Shifting I have to to I get to similarly shifts your thinking from burden to privilege and strengthens your resilience.

1. Without making this exercise another should, remind yourself fairly regularly that could is a possibility. Whenever you hear yourself shoulding on yourself, repeat the phrase “Change every should to a could” and notice any shifts in your own thinking.

2. Likewise, whenever you hear yourself say, “I have to” (which may be often!), practice saying, “I get to” instead. This shift helps us experience gratitude for the privilege of being alive and having the opportunity. Notice any shifts in your responses to what’s happening and your reactions to it.

3. Even if there are still shades of obligation lingering, ask yourself if there is anything positive in the moment. Let the recognition of that positive reopen your brain to optimism and learning. “I could finish the taxes by this weekend.” “I get to take the kids to school every morning this week.”

Noticing how you talk to yourself, and choosing to change how you talk to yourself, shifts how you relate to yourself and can create wise changes in your behavior. This one practice of modifying your self-talk can have some of the biggest effects on your resilience.