It is all about thoughts. A thought refers to ideas that are the result of the process of thinking. Thoughts can become words, emotions, behavior, even character. But, how these emotions, thoughts, and behaviors all influence each other? Mainstream cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)  explains this question.

What is the Mainstream cognitive behavioral therapy?

Mainstream cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most widely used evidence-based practice for improving mental health; it was originally designed to treat depression, and is now used for a number of mental health conditions. First of all, according to CBT, all humans' core beliefs can be summed up in three categories: self, others and future. Guided by empirical research, the theory , focuses on the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems and changing unhelpful patterns in cognitions (e.g. thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes), behaviors, and emotional regulation. In this way, CBT helps individuals feel better by targeting their reactions to situations; the basic steps in a cognitive-behavioral assessment include:

Step 1: Identify critical behaviors

Step 2: Determine whether critical behaviors are excesses or deficits

Step 3: Evaluate critical behaviors for frequency, duration, or intensity (obtain a baseline)

Step 4: If excess, attempt to decrease frequency, duration, or intensity of behaviors; if deficits, attempt to increase behaviors

The theory assumes that changing maladaptive thinking leads to change in behavior and affect. However recent variants emphasize changes in one's relationship to maladaptive thinking rather than changes in thinking itself. The basic cognitive-behavioral concept can be depicted as a circle of thoughts, feelings and behaviors (see graphic below)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: The circle of thoughts, feelings and behaviors

So, it’s up to people to organize their way of thinking and, by building resilience, have a happy daily life. However, does resilience require any supernatural ability or just effective use of time?

"Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking"

Marcus Aurelius

The importance of developing emotional resilience

Our emotional reactions are usually provoked by external events and actions, but they are not ultimately determined by them. Let’s see a very common misconception at this point; the perspective that emotionally resilient people are always happy. Resilience allows individuals to effectively and easily handle crises. Moreover, personal resilience is defined as the ability to cope with stress and adversity. In other words, being emotional resilient means being able to bounce back from any negative experience. And this is feasible through “competent functioning".

So, we know that resilience is good, but how do we begin to build it?

Best Practice #1: First and foremost, let’s be present!
Frustration, anxiety, regret, and worry often come out when thinking about past or future. Being present is essential for building resilience. It allows you to actually respond to thoughts and feelings in real time.

Best Practice #2: Remember! Our target is progress, not perfection
Want to achieve emotional resilience? Your goal should be progress, not perfection! Mrs. Brené Brown, the author of “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are” explains that understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to picking up your life. Researches show that perfectionism eliminates success. In fact, it’s often the path towards depression, anxiety, addiction, but not towards resilience.

  • Healthy striving is self-focused: How can I improve?
  • Perfectionism is other-focused: What will they think?

Best Practice #3: Anxiety is not a part of our personality
-   I think I have anxiety.

-  Are you sure it’s not just your personality?

Most of us in our daily interactions confuse anxiety with fear. Anxiety is the subjectively unpleasant feeling of anticipated events. People who face it, should withdraw from situations which have provoked anxiety in the past. Mindfulness is a way towards resilience; a technique that may help people deal with stress and anxiety.

Best Practice #4: We can see the change!

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.


Usually when people struggle with something for extended periods of time are resistant to see anything change. The fact that length of time has been going on means nothing. Willingness to change allows us to see things that often go ignored; to break our old patterns and see things with a fresh light.

Best Practice #5: Upsetting thoughts: Bad thoughts?
Upsetting thoughts are not, necessarily bad ones! They reflect signs of change. By analyzing these emotions, you will be more resilient and able to fully understand the hidden meanings! So, honor them!

Best Practice #6: There are ways to fight our fears
Whatever it is that scares you, there are ways to help you cope with your day-to-day fears. Always remember you are the only person to control how you react and build resilience in your life. Fearful thoughts will always exist, but we should recognize that they do not always reflect reality!

Best Practice #7: Let’s minimize time wasted on routines
Focus on things that work well enough by setting an amount of time you are willing to spend on routines each week and each day and never exceed it. Self-imposed deadlines ‘results are very resourceful.

Concluding, overcoming thoughts means eliminating them, rather than acting in spite of them. By building emotional resilience you can manage to live the way you have been always aspire to! And when difficulties come up, you’ll meet them with more peace in the core of your being.


About Apostolos Belokas

Apostolos is a Maritime Safety, Quality & Environmental Expert, Consultant, Trainer and Project Manager with more than a 20-year background in shipping as Technical, Marine, Safety & Training Superintendent and Consultant. He entered the industry back in early 90’s as Engineering Superintendent with a leading ship manager operating a mixed fleet of bulk and oil/chemical tankers. He then shifted to regulatory compliance and QHSE as superintendent and later as a Consultant and Trainer. Apostolos has successfully completed a wide range of QHSE projects including 250+ management system projects (ISM/ISO 9001-14001-18001/TMSA/MLC), 500 vessel and office audits to various standards and he has trained more than 8,000 people in a wide variety of QHSE subjects. He has also presented and chaired to more than 40 conferences. He holds Mechanical Engineering Bachelor and Master’s specialising in Energy & Environment and Master’s Degree in Maritime Business and Business Administration (MBA), all of them awarded with distinction. Apostolos is the Managing Director of SQE MARINE, SQE ACADEMY and Managing Editor of SAFETY4SEA. 

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