If these CRM (Community Resiliency Model) skills can help our service members struggling with intense stressors and traumas most of us will never experience, imagine how helpful they can be for all of us managing our daily stressors or those who have truly been traumatized. In fact, these resiliency techniques are part of the foundation of all trauma informed and somatic therapies. While there are many resiliency skills, today we are going to focus on “Resourcing”. Resourcing allows us to recalibrate our biology and get us back in our Resilient Zone, which is the psychobiological state of being from where we do our best thinking and live from agency. Knowing how to resource prevents us from being bumped-out of our zone. It also allows us return to it more efficiently and quickly. This can prove to be quite helpful in countless unfortunate situations, which threaten our peace of mind and body.
So, what is a RESOURCE?
A resource can be external or internal, real or imagined. A resource can be a location, a thing, an attribute, a quality or a person –pets, characters in movies or books and super-heroes included– which gives us the support, confidence and inner-strength we need to overcome our challenges and be our best self. Resources provide us with a greater sense of joy, of peace, of empowerment and of security. Let’s define and compare what are internal and external resources.
Internal Resources include experiences, values and beliefs that give us meaning and sustain us.
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For many people, personal characteristics such as kindness, compassion and a holistic view of the world are great internal resources. Our body can also be an internal resource. For example, strong legs that allow a person to run fast, or talented hands that can paint or play a musical instrument can remind a person he has the strength or the grit to overcome his current difficulties. Remembering a person who has an irresistible smile, a wicked sense of humor or a sharp mind can also help us feel more resourced! Religious/spiritual or ethical values can also be meaningful internal resources that help guide the actions and perceptions of many during challenging times.
External Resources include positive experiences and memories of people, places, activities and animals we know and love that help us feel better and more relaxed, more confident and centered.
For example, the inspiring character of Aibileen (played by Viola Davis) in the movie “The Help” represents a nurturing figure who sees the young girl who’s mother can’t provide the emotional attunement she needs to feel securely attached and safe. Many of my adult clients who suffered abuse as children find great comfort in imagining Aibileen nurturing them. This imaginary resource, as well as countless others –especially when amplified by bilateral stimulation during the use of EMDR or Brainspotting therapy– has helped integrate the biological and emotional component of what many such clients missed-out on during their formative years. Other examples of external resources are remembering someone who speaks words of kindness or expresses an attitude of power in difficult moments. A magnificent location one has visited (a real resource) –or has dreamed of visiting some day (an imaginary resource)– which makes a person feel a greater sense of peace and awe can also be a potent resource in times of turmoil or chaos.
A powerful way to increase the felt sensation or our internal and external resources is to let our “inner GPS” –our ability to feel and sense what is going on in our body– guide us to the areas of our body which are activated when we think, feel and amplify our resources. When we want to amplify and embody a resource more deeply, we can simply ask ourselves:
- As I think of my resource and of its qualities/attributes, what changes or happens in my body?
- Do I breathe differently, smile more, change from a slouch to an erect position?
- As I bring my attention to the part of my body that responds most to my resource, what else happens, what positive quality or attribute changes or increases?
- As I think of my dog, my partner, Gandhi, or the vastness of the Universe, etc. do I feel safer, stronger, more capable, powerful, joyful, loved…?
- What changes on the inside when I allow my resource to influence my experience of this current challenge?
When we allow ourselves to sense into the calm, safety, strength, humor, power, etc. our resources offer us, we bring forth their help and qualities inside of us. As we allow ourselves to embody these qualities, we change the way we feel about our challenges, and therefore we change our state of mind. As our state of being changes, so do our perceptions and our experience of agency. As a consequence, new options become available to us. Challenges that felt overwhelming and disempowering become challenges we can tackle and overcome. In brief, as we regularly nurture and tap into our resources we are much better equipped to face our world and our challenges!