In chapter 3 of Resilience by Design, we explore “Thinking.”
Metaphors and icons that represent the mind commonly focus on the head, and often involve cogs or computer circuits. The implication contained in these representations is that we are hard-wired. However, recent discoveries in neuroplasticity reveal that our thinking and behaviours are more soft-wired.
In much the same way that software updates need to keep pace with a rapidly changing environment, we also need to update our thinking and behaviours.
At the heart of resilience is the ability to make good decisions so that we can take appropriate action in the world. Those working in frontline roles are faced with making decisions on a daily basis that can mean life or death.
Andrea Place is a Professionally Licensed Firefighter & Paramedic in the USA, with 15 years of experience. After a particularly confronting event that she responded to, Andrea struggled to find a way to deal with the experience. She shared her story, and how she updated her behaviours and ways of thinking, for chapter 3 of Resilience by Design.
The following is an excerpt of this account.
One deeply memorable call was to a thirteen-month-old baby girl who was killed by her father.
For a long time, I dealt with that event by smoking and drinking. Then I found out I was three months pregnant with my son. So on top of the strain of work events like that, and others, I had the emotions and hormones of a pregnant woman and God-knows-what-else going on in my body!
It begins to mount up unless you do something about it.
Eventually, my husband called me out on it and said, “You need to figure this out.”
So, I did a lot of soul searching and changing of habits and not bringing my work home with me. I got healthy and focused on what needed to be changed. In the past, I would have smoked cigarettes and sipped Jameson in the corner.
But you can’t function at your best if you do that and it’s important to find ways to switch off, relax at home. Simple changes make a big difference. No electronic devices or TV in the bedroom. A long wind-down period, including reading books before sleep. I never watch the news. I don’t want that negativity on my mind. I ate junk food in my early days and had brain fog. Now I pay attention to eating healthy food; I like to run to burn off some of the feelings of stress from the day. It all helps towards performing better. When I’m at my best, I’m positive and upbeat and I feel like I can conquer the world. I come in and have a positive attitude and I don’t let anything bring me down.
Throughout Resilience by Design, you will find specific strategies that can help interrupt your patterns of behaviour and update your thinking. People like Andrea are living proof that these “simple changes make a big difference”.