Action 45

I focus on being flexible and adjust to changing demands. I can learn not to try and control things that I cannot control.

Useful Information

Charles Darwin observed: “It is not the strongest of the species who survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

The need for cognitive flexibility is also highlighted in the Serenity Prayer that is used in Alcoholics Anonymous.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

How To: Steps to Becoming More Psychologically Flexible: Adapt and Overcome

  1. Recognize and adapt to various fluctuating situational demands. Avoid “change blindness.”
  2. Change mindsets and perspectives and accompanying behavioral repertoires, when needed.
  3. Be aware of thoughts and feelings in the present.
  4. Shift intentional focus from the past or the future to the present.
  5. Find alternative routes toward desired goals. Engage in pathways thinking.
  6. Organize and prioritize strategies and actions that fit the situation.
  7. Be open to and accepting of emotional experiences and tolerate distress and frustration.
  8. Be willing to engage in difficult situations and undertake challenging tasks that have uncertainty and risks.
  9. Persist and show grit and determination.
  10. View failures as “learning opportunities” and not as end-points. Diagnose failures so you can see potential obstacles and setbacks coming on and can head them off. Trouble-shoot situations. Welcome a healthy relationship with failure. Conduct after-action debriefings.
  11. Maintain a balance among important life domains.
  12. Organize a life built around meaningful beliefs and values.

Quotable Quotes

“Psychological flexibility involves being clear about one’s values and mindful of one’s thoughts and feelings and acting in accord with your values.”

“I live by the ‘F WORD’ and that word is ‘Flexible.’”

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”

—Joseph Campbell

“When you come home from deployment or after a disaster you have to learn to fit in. Find a way to fit in.”

“I can make the choice to stay out of my way emotionally. Remember, there is no situation so bad that by my own efforts I cannot make it worse.”

Action 46