Module One: How and why we think like we do

This module will cover how and why we think like we do and how that can affect our resilience and ultimately how you can help yourself to being more resilient in everday life.

Changes Which can Impact Resilience

The following image contains hotspots with some suggestions about what may have changed to alter your resilience, you probably have lots more noted down than you read here. The purpose of this activity is to start noticing those things which are happening around you and to that can play a huge part in your resilience.

Definition of Resilience

Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

So what is resilience? Let’s look at what the dictionary says:
"The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness."

Do you remember the weebles wobble dolls, however many times you knocked them over they righted themselves eventually. That’s what we do, when my Dad died suddenly I never thought I would be the same again and you know I did after a bit of time and righted myself. How many knocks in life have you overcome and survived and bounced back to being yourself? Make a note on your notepad.

What is Your Biggest Worry?

How and why we think like we do

Unhealthy thinking is, in large part, a function of negative belief systems, these are often installed by others during our childhood and continue on into adulthood. Some people go through life with positive thoughts and their glass is always half full and other go through life with negative thoughts and their glass is always half empty. Which type are you? The longer we think a particular way, the harder it is to change our thoughts and beliefs, although not impossible. So, let’s start investigating how you think.

Circle of Influence

Stephen Covey’s circle of concern and circle of influence In his book the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (1989) he distinguishes between proactive people – who focus on what they can do and can influence – and reactive people who focus their energy on things beyond their control. Reactive people will maintain an attitude of victimisation and blame. 

Circle of Influence: Questions

Ok – time to take out your resilience planning pad and make another note for your own application. In your own words, respond to the following questions pertainig to the circle of influence mentioned above:

  1. What is it that concerns your that you have no control over?
  2. What is it that you do have control over?
  3. How is this affecting your thoughts?
    1. Are these thoughts causing you to be negative in your outlook?
    2. Are these thoughts hindering your resilience?


Planning and strategy begin with observation and assessment and you have made some very key observations about your own specific situation so far, now proceed to the next sections to learn about Automatic Negative Thoughts and  Positive and Affirming Thoughts or “ANTs” and “PATs” ….

Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs)

Dr. Daniel G. Amen, a psychiatrist, physician and author, calls this type of thinking ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts). He says that ANTs are “cynical, gloomy, and complaining thoughts that just seem to keep coming all by themselves”.  As humans we all have negative thoughts. What type of negative thoughts do you have? Write these in your resilience notepad. To help get you started, the following slides contain a few examples along with key information to help you understand the impact of ANTs and how they work…..

ANTs are thoughts like this:

  • "My presentation is going to go horribly."
  • "I'm not going to close this sale."
  • "They always ignore my ideas during meetings. Why do I even bother?"
  • "Something bad is going to happen. It always does."

One of the biggest problems is that these thoughts become self-fulfilling prophecies.:

  • If you are convinced that your presentation in front of the board is going to go horribly, you won't really prepare for it. 
  • You'll sit in fear and procrastinate rather than taking action. 
  • And then guess what happens? The presentation will indeed go horribly and you will say to yourself, "See? I told you it would be a nightmare!"

One of the biggest problems is that these thoughts become self-fulfilling prophecies.:

  • This type of thinking can severely limit your ability to enjoy your life. 
  • How you think on a moment-to-moment basis plays a huge role in how you feel and thus how you act. 
  • If you are negative all the time, you don't expect good things to happen so you don't try very hard to make them happen.

9 Most Common ANTs

As opposed to automatic negative thoughts, “positive and hopeful thoughts lead to positive behaviours. They help you to feel better about yourself and be more effective in your day-to-day life. Hopeful thoughts also help you connect with others. We’ll talk about these in a moment, but first have a look at the 9 most common ANTs and consider which of these might apply to your own ANTs…

Which of these ANTs do you fall into most? Make a note on your resilience notepad.

  • 1. "Always" Thinking:

    This is when you think in words like "always, never, no one, everyone, every time, everything".

  • 2. Focusing on the negative

    When you can only see the bad in a situation.

  • 3. Fortune Telling

    You predict the worst possible outcome to a situation.

  • 4. Mind Reading

    You believe that you know what another person is thinking and it's not good. Even though they haven't told you and you didn't even ask.

  • 5. Thinking with your feelings

    This is when you believe negative feelings without ever questioning them.

  • 6. Guilt Beatings

    You think in words like "should, must, ought or have to."

  • 7. Labeling

    You attach a negative label to yourself or to someone else.

  • 8. Personalization

    This is when you take a seemingly innocent event and take it to have a personal, negative meaning.

  • 9. Blame

    This is the most harmful ANT and it happens when you blame someone else for your own problems.

Positive & Affirming Thoughts (PATs)

PATs are Positive & Affirming Thoughts. PATs are the antidote for those stubborn ANTs in your life. The following graphic represents a three-fold strategy for turning ANTs into PATs:

The next time you notice an ANT entering your mind, recognize it, challenge it and turn it around. Do this on a consistent basis and you will take away the ANTs’ power, allowing you to gain control over your mood and ultimately your happiness.

Now give it a try with one of your own ANTs, make a note on your resilience note pad.

Create Your Plan: Reframe your ANTs

Here are six questions which may help you going forward to reframe your ANTs. Make a note of them on your notepad to keep as a reference going forward.

  • 1. Which ANT has caught me out in recent weeks?

  • 2. How often am I caught by this ANT?

  • 3. How does it help me? (e.g. it stops me having to think about my part in the poor relationship.)

  • 4. What are the limitations of this thinking ANT for my effectiveness?

  • 5. What would be a challenge to the ANT?

  • 6. How does it change my view?

Brain Overload

Let’s investigate how our brain functions to fully understand why ANTs happen.

If you notice that the limbic part of the brain is beginning to take over and you find yourself unable to make decisions rationally,  a great strategy to counter this might be to try and calm yourself down and stop those chemicals from bombarding your body.

You will have heard of meditation and mindfulness and this really does reduce the cortisol and adrenaline in your system.

Breathing Your Way to Resilience:

Resilience in a Breath

When we become stressed or frustrated our brain sends chemicals into our body ready for fight or flight, adrenaline and cortisol, this causes our hearts to beat like the second diagram the idea is to reduce this as this is harming to our hearts and our bodies, the way to do this is to breathe….. Proceed to the next video where I will take you through a practice of breathing to let go of those excess stress chemicals.

Module One Quick Quiz

The following short quiz consists of multiple choice and true false questions which pertain to information delivered in this module. Proceed through each question by selecting the arrow at right to complete this module.

Upon completion of this module’s material above, select the “mark complete” or “next module” button below to record your progress to proceed to the next module. This will save your place and your work on the course thus far and will enable you to complete the assessment at the end of the course.