20 Feb 2017

Carving new tracks: developing mental resilience

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 2:33 pm on 20 February 2017

Mental resilience means not being destroyed by adverse events, and an expert says we can all develop these skills.

Mindful mental toughness coach Jamie Ford says he brings insights from science to help people to develop the skills to be more mentally resilient.

Ford is the director of Foresight Learning Systems and has held held senior management positions in industries including public health, dairy and finance.

Jamie Ford describes himself as a 'Mindful Mental Toughness Coach'.

Jamie Ford describes himself as a 'Mindful Mental Toughness Coach'. Photo: Pixabay

He told Afternoons with Jessie Mulligan resilient people tend to think of bad events as a bit of a speedbump while the less resilient think setbacks will be much more permanent.

“What the science shows us … is that the [resilient] people are handling adversities, they’re not getting derailed, they’re not being destroyed by them,” Ford says.

“They have this unique pattern of thinking about the way adversities occur and they also have another unique way of thinking about the good things that go on in life, the successes that occur.”

But while some people are more inclined to resilience, he says it is nurture more so than nature that determines where we are on the spectrum.

“It’s the environment that we’re in and the way that the people around us think, behave … the way we are told to think about things and whether we’re nurtured with hope about life.”

And the key to developing a resilient mind is repetition.

”We want to shut down the old neural pathways that have developed … those eight-lane superhighways that we built in our childhoods which are quite normal and comfortable for us, and [we] need to get out the machete, carve our way through the bush, make a rough track.

“And over time, as we keep using that pattern then we build up new neural pathways and that’s really good for our wellbeing.”

The process begins by using a diagnostic to chart the current unhelpful thinking patterns, and from then there is coaching, practice and tools to learn the language of resilience.

“And not waiting for emotion before we take the action, but to actually take the action and then emotion will catch up.”

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