James Elliott Mental Resilience Coach - Q & A

LLB

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What’s your advice Jim on picking yourself after a fail. I imagine in training a lot of lads lose heart if they fail something and get back sqauded?
 

jameselliott

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What’s your advice Jim on picking yourself after a fail. I imagine in training a lot of lads lose heart if they fail something and get back sqauded?
Ah yeah, failure.

The bitter sweet of all great journeys of success, is that failure plays an inevitable role in that journey.

Well neurologically speaking, when the neutrons (brain cells), specifically in the hippocampus (emotional memory and emotional regulation) experience trauma (like a great perception of failure), they shrink, become less effective at the role they play and hence why people after trauma can become irrational and quit, leave, VW (its extremely complicated this is a simplification of the process, but it serves a purpose for this).

Now, this is where it gets interesting.

Because, when the cells recover, when we get back up, try again, employ the skills of resilience, the cells grow back, this time with thicker axons (cell body), not longer dendrites (extremities of the cells), this means that the cell itself becomes way more efficient at its role. In the hippocampus, this means that our memory recognises our situation and the emotions associated and how to regulate them better.

The point?

Shit happens, but your recovery makes you stronger, there is increased research with technological advances into this process, but as Rocky Balboa says "Its not how hard you can hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, thats how winning is done".
 

Fisherman

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@jameselliott Just want to say that I find your posts so interesting mate and really does prove the quality that serve under PARA capbadge.
I quit depot in 2016 and it is honestly the biggest regret of my life. For ages I couldn’t even think about it without getting down and I focused way too much on all the things that went wrong in training. I was convinced the screws hated me and convinced myself I was too weak. I guess sometimes our thoughts just take over. 5 years older and I’m ready to brush off and go again with a new positive mental attitude. Any tips on how best to shut up those nagging doubts when they creep in?
 

jameselliott

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@jameselliott Just want to say that I find your posts so interesting mate and really does prove the quality that serve under PARA capbadge.
I quit depot in 2016 and it is honestly the biggest regret of my life. For ages I couldn’t even think about it without getting down and I focused way too much on all the things that went wrong in training. I was convinced the screws hated me and convinced myself I was too weak. I guess sometimes our thoughts just take over. 5 years older and I’m ready to brush off and go again with a new positive mental attitude. Any tips on how best to shut up those nagging doubts when they creep in?
Well you have kind of answered yourself there, it is just about changing the way you think.

Let me explain.

So, the brain is incredible, about 5% of bodyweight, but about 30% of energy expenditure (individual dependant), what the brain tried to do, is save energy, it tries to burn as minimal fuel by utilising the brain patterns, the neural pathways that it knows will work, in fact, it even solidifies certain pathways in a thin layer of fat to ensure that they are preserved, because they are so reliable. This is essentially what habitual behaviour is, in fact, about 45% of our behaviour is habitual. That's why old habits die hard, its better to replace a negative habit with a new one, by making the old habit harder to achieve and the new habit easier.

For example, if you drink too much coffee and not enough water, unplug your kettle and put a bottle of water next to it. You now have to plug in and fill up the kettle every time, and the water is right there. Do that for 21 days straight and you stand a far more likely chance of continuing that behaviour after the 21 days (about 70% - task complexity dependant).

So, thinking patterns and behavioural patterns are often habitual, due to the brains need to conserve as much energy as possible.

This, is where it gets to the point.

You think negatively about your performance, your past, the events and the version of you that it happened to/because of. So, what you need to do, is replace these habitual negative thought patterns with positive, motivational and empowering ones - and theres a simple exercise to do this with.

"you ARE"

A = awareness, be aware of how you are communicating with yourself, the things you are thinking about and how it is making you feel.

R = replace, if those thoughts are negative and focused on the past then I simply want you to replace those negative thoughts and beliefs with positive ones. Rather than "I can't do this", use "I cCan do this", rather than " I should do this" with "I want to do this". Replace the shit with the good every single time.

E = every time, do this every single time that you are aware of your negativity. The brain is habitual and it will habitually look for reasons to stay safe and do things. If you can exercise enough genuine self belief, simply by forging new positive habits by repetition, every time, then you will see a far greater success rate.

This takes time and effort and conscious thought and will power and determination, but you're about to become a paratrooper of the British Army, I have every faith in you, so should you.
 

Mad Frank

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Jim what about how best to listen to an oppo who might be struggling. Is it better to try and find a solution or just listen
 

jameselliott

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Jim what about how best to listen to an oppo who might be struggling. Is it better to try and find a solution or just listen
Great question mate, because this is complicated, and definitely a skill right?

My advice is to listen and listen intently, often when someone's opening up and speaking to you, the process of venting means recreating the story in their mind, which engages more prefrontal cortex (reasoning and logic) and that, allows them to process and make sense of their situation by removing emotional interference.

What I have often found, that by allowing an individual to speak, to talk about how they feel and what happened, they will come to their own conclusions. All you have to do, is listen properly (no phone in hand, no messing around, no distractions) let them speak, then the advice that you offer, make sure it os very balanced.

I'm a psychotherapist and we often have to be wary of providing your own opinion, we have to encourage the individual to come to their own. That's a skill in itself (if you are bored, google internal vs external frame of reference). The issue with giving your opinion and potentially telling someone what to do, is that they won't be motivated to do it, so allow them to come to their own conclusions, let them speak.

Also, professional top tips -

invest in decent coffee, people don't want to open up emotionally with a mug of Maxwell house in their hand.

ask questions and respond, listen more than you speak this is a common mistake

through time and effort you will learn when to apply pressure and ask questions and when to back off.

If they are a risk to themselves or to someone else, then you have an obligation to call the police.
 

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Jim. Hard one to put into words but any methods or advice on how to snap out of a low mood once you are in one. Sometimes it’s not possible to prevent it I find
 

jameselliott

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Jim. Hard one to put into words but any methods or advice on how to snap out of a low mood once you are in one. Sometimes it’s not possible to prevent it I find

Hi mate.

Well, for starters we don't want to avoid triggers for the rest of our lives. It will do nothing but give you limiting beliefs and restrict your ability to find fulfilment, so what we want to do, is learn how to remove ourselves from these moods or ideally, learn the source of that reaction and change how we think about that trigger to prevent that slump in mood from ever happening.

Now, without the proper counselling time, practices and processes it would be hard to conduct the necessary CBT to establish the source of the negative emotion, although, I would suggest evaluating it yourself. Why do you feel the way that you do? What caused it and why? Also, as an aside, before you consider this a psychological issue, be sure you've actually had enough sleep, drank enough water, eaten nutritionally satisfying foods and aren't spending too much time with nobheads. Most people's emotional slumps,

Thats the golden fix, to be in a position whereby you can manage all your own reactions, to be completely balanced, resilient and almost stoic (almost, because I'm not a massive fan of stoicism), but that's called self actualisation and that's a double confusing and complex idea. Another time, maybe.

So then, that leaves the alternative of essentially, an effective coping mechanism. I find, depending upon the situation, when I am struggling that I am only ever one work out away from a great mood. Which is a form of self care, take the necessary time to find yours and utilise it. If self care isn't an option, visualisation of a happy memory, a planned event or a more pleasant present moment, might be effective. Controlled breathing and mediation is also a very successful form of scientifically backed mood regulator. Try box breathing, its a US Navy SEAL technique, breathe in for 4, hold for 4, out for 4, rest for 4, with each stage being visualised as an edge of the box, this will relax the activation of your amygdala (emotional centre) and put the control back into the prefrontal cortex (reason and logic), allowing you to rationalise yourself out of that negative state.

Lots of info there, lets summarise?

Look after your physical well being, your lifestyle is extremely important to your mental state, don't @me that your in a foul mood if you eat rustlers burgers for breakfast and only drink pop. If that's not the issue, challenge the source of your behaviour, why are you feeling this way. Then, thirdly, find a decent coping mechanism, from box breathing, meditation, cracking some physical or all of it at once, learn to bring yourself out of it.

Don't deny your emotion, its not how cortisol is managed, cortisol is the stress neurotransmitter, which is also a catabolic chemical, which means it catastrophically effects protein synthesis. In plain speak, it messes about with existing muscle fibre, including the brain. The more stress, the more breaking down of neutrons in the prefrontal cortex so the less rational you become, the more emotionally unstable. Its the science behind why we need to learn, as men, to embrace feeling shit so that we can learn to manage it better.

Best of luck, fair to say, you are not alone.
 

jameselliott

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Jim this thread is sparking some very important conversations and promoting healthy thinking drills for all. You need to teach this to recruit intakes mucker


Hi mate

Thank you for the feedback, and totally agree. Before I left the regulars, I was the 2IC of all the British Army Mental Resilience training, and was one of the main deliverers even of the "train the trainer" package, essentially, teaching phase 1 instructors to be very low level mental resilience coaches.

It was something that would be embedded in phase 1 and phase 2 training.

I do completely agree, introducing the skills of resilience, from skill mastery to emotional regulation, to performance optimisation and well being, all needs to be promoted, especially within the early, very malleable stages of a recruits mindset and career.

I am still, working on it.

Cheers pal,

Jim
 

HP

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This thread is great and it’s as important as phys. Preparation of the mind is a great idea. I definitely think you can train the mind. There will be dark days in depot where you want to bang your chit in and flounce off but we train hard for a reason. I’m not joking even on PRAC some wobble because they aren’t used to 0530. In Depot hard moments aren’t always what you all think. It’s not always the actual lessons or serials you are on it is when you are alone with your thoughts. I swear down when you are on exercise and you are assaulting a position or if you are cracking on with admin in the block you are so busy you don’t have time to think. But say on a Sunday night, lying in your bed, tired, sore, and dwelling on some negative shit that might of happened earlier and stressing about tomorrow. That’s when you need to remember the vital drills that Jim is teaching us here. When you are alone and your mind starts to wander that’s when you need the discipline to deal with it and refocus
 

jameselliott

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This thread is great and it’s as important as phys. Preparation of the mind is a great idea. I definitely think you can train the mind. There will be dark days in depot where you want to bang your chit in and flounce off but we train hard for a reason. I’m not joking even on PRAC some wobble because they aren’t used to 0530. In Depot hard moments aren’t always what you all think. It’s not always the actual lessons or serials you are on it is when you are alone with your thoughts. I swear down when you are on exercise and you are assaulting a position or if you are cracking on with admin in the block you are so busy you don’t have time to think. But say on a Sunday night, lying in your bed, tired, sore, and dwelling on some negative shit that might of happened earlier and stressing about tomorrow. That’s when you need to remember the vital drills that Jim is teaching us here. When you are alone and your mind starts to wander that’s when you need the discipline to deal with it and refocus


Thank HP yeah you are totally right.

One of the best officers I have ever served under, gave me one of the best bits of advice I have ever known, which was "at the end of the day, when you're laid in your bed and it is just you and the silence, nobody to impress or lie to and it is just you, it is then, that you must ask yourself 'am I truly happy'."

We can all have shit days and struggle and be sore and be in pain, but if we ultimately know that we are achieving a higher purpose, we are fulfilling who we truly believe that we are born to be and that we are pushing towards a greater victory, then even those darkest of nights there is still the knowledge that you are where you are supposed to be.
 
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