by Lea Sicat Reyes

The conclusion

For the past two weeks, we have been talking about Thinking Traps that challenge our ability to be resilient. Once ensnared, we become susceptible to feelings of defeat and hopelessness. As a conclusion to our Thinking Traps series, we will discuss positive coping mechanisms to achieve the necessary grit to face obstacles with an indomitable spirit.


We all have underlying beliefs and biases (our icebergs). Recognizing what they are allows us to better understand why we react to certain things in a certain way (our surface or what is observable to other people). Knowing that we have our respective icebergs makes us realize that other people have their own icebergs as well. We are then able to regulate our reactions and adjust to people who think and react differently than we do.


Our world is filled with endless noise emanating practically everywhere and anywhere. We are constantly bombarded by information left and right. We might not notice it but the chaos gets to us. We become abrasive. We react aggressively. Try driving in a busy, highly urbanized community. Hurling expletives is a way of life. I found this quote so apt for this particular point. “It takes as much courage to stand up and speak out as it is to sit down and listen.” Let us start our day with some degree of quiet. Spend a few minutes to breathe in and out. Pray. A calm spirit is a resilient spirit.


Negativity is draining. It is the proverbial rain in one’s mardi gras. That is why we must endeavor to appreciate the bigger picture and to stop focusing on the small, annoying things that do not meet our expectations. But practice caution as well. We cannot go all out eternal sunshine of the spotless mind all the time. Being cautious means appreciating the wonderful things that we have experienced and looking at how things can still be improved. Being cautious allows us to have alternatives just in case things do not go as planned. Be positive but remain grounded on reality as well.


If we get insulted or slighted in any way, it is imperative that we confront the person who caused it. More often than not, that person is not even aware that he/she made us feel that way. Speak out but do so without being viciously confrontational. A war of words will not solve anything. Communicate clearly and calmly and be open to reconciliation. This is the most effective way to resolve conflict between and among our social relations.


This is the biggest challenge of all. Think about the universe as an endless expanse. We are but a speck of dust in the grand scheme of things. Whatever happens to us is certainly not the end of the world. Being parochial, narrowminded and hyper-sensitive takes the fun out of living. Learn to shake things off, to let someone have the last word in the argument, to laugh it out. Let us be bigger than our ego.

These are just some techniques that we can employ to avoid those pesky Thinking Traps. At the end of the day, it is very clear that if we want a happy, relatively stress-free life, change must start with us.

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