It could be an email. It could be a comment. Or silence. Or a look. Any number of perceived adversities can trigger panic, aka, "the threat response."
These quick resilience techniques are resources for dealing with life's adversities in real-time. When catastrophic thoughts hit, we don't have accept them as truths. We can challenge them with Quick Resilience Techniques. Here's three QRTs for meeting our misguided minds head on:
Context: "What if I freak out during my speech? I'll look like a fraud, I'll get fired and be a failure."
Instead of continuing with this mode of thinking, deploy the Alternatives QRT.
Think this: "There's a more accurate way to view this adversity."
Do this: Re-frame the adversity with an alternative optimistic explanation.
Remember this: An optimistic explanation is TEMPORARY, SPECIFIC, and NOT ALL YOUR FAULT.
So, it sounds more like this: "Sure, public speaking can be intimidating, what you're feeling is expected. But you're prepared, you know what you're talking about, and the audience will be excited to hear about it. It's an hour of your life, that's all, but it's also an opportunity to share your knowledge with people and hopefully have a positive impact on them."
NOTE: That feeling of stress and fear? Let me let you in on a little secret: it's there TO HELP YOU. It may not feel like it, but it's preparing you to take on a TEMPORARY meaningful challenge. Welcome that feeling, use it to your advantage as it's priming you for greatness. Don't believe me? Listen to Dr. Kelly McGonigal.
Context: "I made a mistake, I'm an idiot and a fraud."
Instead of continuing this mode of thinking, deploy the Evidence QRT.
Think this: "That's not true because..." (fill this in with a more supportive and real perspective).
Do this: Be specific with your reasons that disprove the thought.
So, instead: "That's not true, I'm successful far more than not and mistakes don't make me a fraud, they make me human. I'll learn from it, not as a motivation to keep me from getting fired, but to better myself."
Context: "I was late to a meeting, my boss is going to fire me."
Instead of continuing with this mode of thinking, deploy the Implications QRT.
Think this: "A more likely outcome is... and I can..."
Do this: Re-frame with a more realistic, rational outcome and an approach-based action.
So, instead: "A more likely outcome is they'll be disappointed, but I can own it and take active measures to be more cognizant of my schedule in the future." Repeat as needed.
IMPORTANT: Some of our catastrophic thinking is due to our perceived inability to handle an assumed consequence of the adversity. When we let your catastrophic thoughts control our self-talk, we're at the mercy of our emotions. Don't believe everything you think. If it elicits a fear response, question it. Unless your life is in danger. Then respond in accordance with how our biology intended.
QRTs (aka Real-Time Resilience) is the work of resiliency experts Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D., Dr. Karen Reivich, and Dr. Andrew Shatté, Univ. Penn.