Cognitive Fitness – part 3
Part 3 on Cognitive Fitness as resilience, which is the capacity to adapt successfully in the presence of risk and adversity.
To be healthy is to be flexible and adapt to demands of each situation.
Learning to look for the silver lining in a situation can be a good strategy. But in my experience, this is often used to bypass the needed work to come to grips with the reality of one’s own situation.
Pursue life-affirming and uplifting activities so that you can develop a sense of purpose and meaning. This might be volunteer work, donating goods or services, giving back, sharing your story, etc.
Listen to and change your self talk. How we talk to ourselves and about ourselves is important and can set expectations about our capacities in the future. Be mindful of all or nothing thinking, is it really ALWAYS this way? Does this really NEVER happen? Calling ourselves names in our head has an emotional impact and points to areas for healing. Is there a way to reframe your negative self-talk in a way that encourages you to reach your goal? Instead of calling yourself a failure, you can you say, ‘I failed this test, and in the future I will make sure to read the material.’ Now you have reframed this as a single incident of failing a test, not a character flaw of being a failure. You have also identified a specific step that you can take in the future to have a more positive outcome.
Resilient individuals have a way of creating the story that they tell themselves and share with others. Think about how you frame the story of your life, the stories you tell others. Are you the victim or the hero? What does the story say about you, your values, etc. What I tell clients in therapy is that we want to help them to put those traumatic experiences into their proper place in the story of their lives. When therapy starts, the trauma is the story of their life. Then when therapy ends the trauma is just a chapter, a paragraph, or a footnote in their story.