Congratulations, you have successfully reached level three of mastering the Art of Resilience. I know it’s been a while since lessons one and two were posted but hopefully you can recall them. If not go ahead and check them out: Art of resilience: Level 1, Art of Resilience: Level 2.
Lesson three is all about understanding associations, which comes naturally with interactions. During certain interactions, our brain creates identifiable connections between ‘subjects’, which can be recalled later. This could be associating an object with a word, a smell with childhood or even a person with a colour and so on.
Sometimes there are obvious connections, such as associating curly hair with a poodle because poodles have curly(ish) hair too. But sometimes there can be less obvious connections or illogical associations submerged within the subconscious mind, for example someone might associate red with loud noises, which might only make sense to that individual.
Fighting negative associations
Prior incidences and negative thoughts can affect your feelings towards a person or place (subject) through association. If you have previously reacted negatively towards that particular subject, you are likely to behave in a similar way when you interact with it again.
I have to go through this pretty scary train tunnel when I walk to the tube station. It’s long, water drips on my head, it reminds me of tunnel movie monsters, it echoes, it smells…. I associate it with all of these negative things and have noticed that I am very hostile when walking through the tunnel. I feel vulnerable and frightened.
One day, when practicing mindfulness during my walk to work, I acknowledged my feelings when walking through the tunnel. I acknowledged my feeling of vulnerability and tried to overwrite it by telling myself that I am the only one who can control my feelings about this tunnel. In that moment, I realised that in order to fight off the negative thoughts, I must acknowledge them and learn how to control my emotions and thoughts to be more resilient in this situation.
If you know that there is something getting in your way, something that is blocking you from achieving your full potential, prepare a positive thinking pattern ahead of being faced with the subject. Depending on the extent and depth of the subject, this won’t just happen over night. You have to ‘become’ more resilient rather than just be it. Take time to acknowledge how you’re feeling as well as acknowledging your actions and reactions. Only then can you begin to disrupt the negative associations that are blocking positivity.