Part 1: Thrive Under Stress and Pressure - How to Reframe a Negative Situation to Positive with One Simple Strategy

Welcome to this short course (3-part series) on how to build resilience and thrive, in life and at work. In the first video, I'm going to share my story with you, and I'm going to share a simple strategy of how to thrive in real time. When we feel negative, or we feel overwhelmed, or we feel stuck, how do you bounce forward?

Note, The video has been transcribed into a blog post.

What is resilience?

It involves the feeling of being uncomfortable, in order to be successful, and in the process, you can keep functioning and master yourself. It's also about feeling that fear and doing it anyways. It's about going through the highs and the lows, and learning how to cope. It's also about navigating change instead of fighting against it, and adapting, so being flexible. And finally, it's about creating a mindset where a setback can be viewed as a feedback.

Just like you, I had to go through a lot of obstacles in my life to build resilience. I had a speech impediment, from the age of five, and it continued on into my adult life. It took me 10 years to get to where I am today, to be able to speak freely, without thinking if I was going to stutter.

I moved from Kenya to Canada at the age of 15, without my parents, so imagine going from a country where everything was done for me, now learning to do things myself. I had to be responsible at a very young age.

And very recently, my journey with breast cancer. Believe me when I say I had to use my resilience muscle and the same strategies that I am going to show you in this 3-part series.

So let's get on with it, right? What is that one strategy that really helped me along the way?

I still remember that day. It was August 12th of 2016, a Friday morning. I went to see my surgeon as we had to discuss my breast cancer treatment. My husband and my daughter, who was then 11, accompanied me.

As we sat in her office, she said, "You have grade III cancer, and since you're only 41, You'll end up going through chemotherapy and radiation, after surgery. You'll also have to take a hormonal pill for the next five years of your life."

"Whoa, hold on. I can't take this right now. This is overwhelming," I think to myself.

I feel worry, dread, tension and fear. Then she hits the hammer on the nail, saying, "Oh, by the way, your next four to six months is going to be all about treatment, so know that you have to plan your life around that."

I was in shock because I wasn't looking that far ahead. I thought this was just going to be surgery, and I'd be done. Between Friday and Saturday, I was going through a myriad of feelings, but I know all I wanted to do was scream and yell.

On Sunday, we were driving back home from being in the city and I looked at my husband in the driver's seat and said, "Look, I just need to vent, and I need three things from you One, I want you to listen to me, two, avoid interrupting until I'm done, and three, I really want your help with sorting out my thoughts."

Do you agree that we usually just stop at the first two? "I want to vent, so you need to listen to me. And two, do not interrupt until I'm done." But we never ask for the third thing, which is "Help me sort out my thoughts."

I continued my conversation with him. "I eat healthy. Why did I get cancer? Did I attract this into my life? Did I do something wrong? I don't even smoke. Why me? We have a wellness centre and I'm not even well. I feel like a fraud." I sobbed.

My husband answers: "First, you did not attract this into your life, and we don't know why cancer happens. It's not your fault, so stop blaming yourself. Second, it's good you're healthy. You don't have any other health issues, so when you go through surgery and chemotherapy, you're going to heal faster. Third, you talk about resilience. Therefore, now's the time to practice the strategies you teach."

I was in awe because he had just used a strategy I teach others called, REFRAMING. He had just helped me shift from a victim mindset to a victor mindset.

What is reframing?

Reframing is looking at the situation with a different lens, with a different frame, so that you can change the meaning of what is going on. You can change the whole idea around it.

For example, when you look at a picture in one frame, and you put that same image in another frame shape, it will not look the same.

Similarly, when you look at a problem, you may see the opportunity. When you look at a weakness, you may miss a strength. When you see unkindness, it just could be a lack of understanding.

So now you may be wondering, "Okay, this is great, but how do I reframe? How do I make this an unconscious habit?"

It really helps to know when you're swimming in a victim mindset, and that's usually when you blame yourself or you blame something outside of yourself. In addition, you wonder how long the problem will take and question why you're in the situation that you're in. When you become aware of those kinds of thoughts in your mind, quickly reset yourself and reframe, by asking this simple question, "How can I look at or approach the situation in a way that will give me a positive outcome?"

Throughout my breast journey, I had to reframe every situation. Even after every chemotherapy treatment, I'd be very fatigued, or feeling just yucky. I'd have to reframe, with this question every time. REFRAMING will reset your mindset, so that you can always shift from negative to positive.

In part 2, I'm going to share a strategy that is used by successful and resilient individuals, to thrive under stress and pressure.

Zaheen Nanji is a Resilience Champion and trains people and organizations on how to build their resilience muscle so it becomes a first reflex in times of change and challenge.

You were very easy to deal with. Pleasant manner, tone of voice and easy to speak to.  You kind of have the voice and demeanor that make people "want" to talk with you. Once people know your story, they want to talk to you more, perhaps to grab a bit of your strength and positive attitude in their own lives.  I find you to have a caring way about you. Concerned for others and how you can help them be better at being them.

Leanne Carpenter

Office of the Chief Administrative Officer - Town of Stony Plain

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You were very easy to deal with. Pleasant manner, tone of voice and easy to speak to.  You kind of have the voice and demeanor that make people "want" to talk with you. Once people know your story, they want to talk to you more, perhaps to grab a bit of your strength and positive attitude in their own lives.  I find you to have a caring way about you. Concerned for others and how you can help them be better at being them.

Leanne Carpenter

Office of the Chief Administrative Officer - Town of Stony Plain

Zaheen Nanji is a Resilience Champion and trains people and organizations on how to build their resilience muscle so it becomes a first reflex in times of change and challenge.

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