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How to Build and Maintain Resilience And Its Vital Role in the Executive Protection Field – Part 2

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Resilience is the ability to adapt well in the face of significant stress, trauma, and adversity; essentially, it’s the ability to bounce back on your feet quickly when life throws punches your way (which it inevitably does), and to stay on track regardless of what might be happening on the sidelines. Having a solid level of resilience is an essential quality for mentally and physically healthy individuals, and crucial to those working in the field of EP. The beautiful part is that you are never too old to build your level of resilience.

Resilience is a clear path to better mental and physical health. Understand that resilience is not a triage tool to be broken out “in case of emergency” when you are in-crisis. It is, instead, a lifestyle; something we need to work on every day. Fortunately, it can be nurtured, increased, and built upon at any stage in life.

At the very core of working on your resilience is shifting your mindset. The secret to a resilient mindset is learning how to master your self-talk. The key to mastering your self-talk is understanding my favorite theory in psychology called Cognitive Behavioral Theory, or CBT.

Cognitive Behavioral Theory is fairly self-explanatory: your cognitions affect your behavior, mediated by emotions. Let me expound on this… First, your cognitions, which is just a fancy word for your thoughts, create self-talk. These thoughts and self-talk generate emotions and your emotions affect how you feel. How you feel affects how you behave and, thus, how you live your life. So, it’s sort of a domino effect. The more positive and the more encouraging your thoughts and self-talk, the more resilient you are, and the healthier you will become – both physically and mentally.

Here’s the best part: YOU have the power to modify your thoughts and to change the self-talk. Yes, YOU have that power, and YOU CAN modify your thoughts and self-talk. It’s actually pretty simple… not necessarily easy, but simple, nonetheless.

So, when negative thoughts enter your mind, be aware of them and stop them right there. Do not allow yourself to go down the spiral of negativity, to catastrophize, to bury yourself in that pit of self-criticism. It will affect how you feel, it will affect how you behave, it will affect how you live your life. It will also affect the people around you – your family, your friends, your co-workers. Allowing those negative thoughts to take over will hack away at your resilience and, as a result, your mental and physical health.

Let’s be honest, negative thoughts come naturally and, for some people, they come quite often. Here’s the trick to shifting negative thoughts: choose the lens though which you view things. In other words, you can choose the negative thoughts and all the ugly that goes along with them – how they make you feel like garbage, how they can ruin your day, your week, your month, even your relationships OR you can choose a different lens… One that views things in a way that isn’t so harsh, that doesn’t give into the negative self-talk, and that contributes to your life, shifts your mindset, makes you more resilient, and more physically and mentally healthier.

Ok, so let’s say you are contemplating whether you should apply for a new job in the EP field. You are reading the job description and, as if on cue, the negative thoughts start whirring in your mind – “I think the role is out of my league”, “I don’t have the skill set to take on that level of EP work”, “I remember my supervisor on my last job told me I was incompetent”. STOP! Choose a different lens, choose to be resilient. Change your self-talk and tell yourself that no job is out of your league and that you belong in ANY room, in any job, you choose to be in. Put the negativity to rest. Your whole mindset will shift, and you will feel so much better, so much healthier.

Here’s what it boils down to: Watch your thoughts, they become your self-talk. Watch your self-talk, it creates your mindset. Watch your mindset, it dictates your actions. Watch your actions, they become who you are. You WILL become a more resilient YOU.

So, every morning, look in a mirror and say to yourself, out loud, “I am resilient!” and believe it. Your mindset will follow and you will continue to fortify a mentally and physically healthier version of yourself.

In Part 3 of this series, I will talk about what Resilience looks like in everyday life…

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