Practical Individual Resilience: A Neuroplastic Approach
Robert Aurbach
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Resilience has been a disappointment in the context of understanding why some people bounce back from injury, illness, or other challenges, but others do not. Researchers have identified characteristics that are found in people they deem to be resilient, but these characteristics are too general to be used effectively and do not demonstrate how to build or reinforce resilience. Humans form habits of thought, feelings associated with particular stimuli, and behaviors in response to stimuli, a process known as neuroplasticity. Injured or ill individuals often are presented with additional stimuli that maintain the associations and expand the scope of illness. In the privacy of their own minds, individuals may repeat self-negating thoughts about economic pressure, loss of work identity, psychosocial issues, and others that lead to anger, frustration, worry, catastrophic thinking, and grief—creating a web of disability. In this context, resilience can be reframed as the ability of a person to change, quiet, or moderate self-talk in order to minimize their long-term reaction to stressors. To foster resilience, individual interventions can be undertaken as general life training, specific inoculation against anticipated situations, or in a remedial role to help those whose experience of challenges has been exacerbated by an inner voice that is out of control. Workplaces that enhance rather than diminish individual resilience allow productivity and wellness to coexist and reinforce one another.

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    An instrument for that purpose has been tested with small groupsand demonstrated face validity. Additional validity testing is planned.

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