Emotional Bookmarking

When placed under duress from an unpredictable situation we cannot control, our actions to follow comes from 2 places; our instincts and previous behaviours formed from similar experiences.

On our survival courses, we teach that in a hostile or dangerous situation our instincts will usually enforce a very primal reflex which is not always the best course of action. Many diving victims are found with their regulator out of their mouth, their survival is challenged, their instincts kick in and a primal reflex says to clear the airway of the regulator, again not the best course of action.

Before Christmas, I had the pleasure of working with the Sydney Roosters. The goal was to build communication and comradery under extreme physical, mental and emotional duress for 36 hours. They had no idea of details regarding the 36-hour challenge so in the early stages many of them naturally defaulted to an instinctual defence mode protecting themselves instead of the team which only caused a breakdown in communication and working as a unit. Emotional bookmarks and creating new mental pathways were vital in successfully completing this mission as a team. As soon as a player's individual needs were challenged and they deferred from working as a unit, we had strict motivational consequences so firstly they would recognise the action then re correct their mindset.

Very shortly after working with the team and solidifying new mental pathways to achieve the desired goal under the conditions they were given, they went from working as a rusty chain due to the extreme hardship they were under to working as a perfect unit with flawless communication and care for each other. In their world, that equals a perfect team.

In any area of our health and resilience, every day we are faced with situations that will set us back a step or take us forward a step. In many cases, the answer lies with how we mentally respond to that situation. Forging new emotional bookmarks and mental pathways designed to push in the direction to thrive instead of defaulting to a negative setting is a key in anyone's overall health strategy.

“To survive, you must develop secondary emotions that function in a strategic balance with reason.” ― Laurence Gonzales, Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why

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