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Flip Your Script: Use the “Positive” Cognitive Triad to Enhance Resiliency

There are many factors involved when it comes to suffering from depression or anxiety, and when taking an integrative approach, we would consider such areas as biological, cognitive and social circumstances.

In particular, our cognitive domain including our perspectives, interpretations and beliefs related to ourselves, the world around us, and our future holds a great deal of power over our ability to manage stress and experience greater well-being.

People with a sense of hopelessness and lack of control are particularly vulnerable to stress and psychopathology.

We will go through difficult times in life, so having the ability to bounce back from adversity is crucial for building mental health and having life-satisfaction.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back and adapt to the demands of stressful situations. Resilience is believed to play a role in psychological well-being and positively influence people’s health and general functioning.

One view of how we can cultivate resilience posits that the greater our level of positive emotionality, the more resilient we can be, and that these emotions may stem from our thinking patterns.

Recent research in the Journal of Counseling Psychology explored the concept of Beck’s negative cognitive triad, which explores how we view our self, the world around us, and our future.

When people’s perspective of these areas is negative, cynical, and hopeless they will struggle to cope with life and be at risk for psychopathology.

This research revealed, however, that there may be a flip side to this triad. A positive cognitive triad can be applied to the cultivation of resilience and greater positivity just the same.

Resilient people are likely to have a positive view of themselves and believe in their abilities, have a positive view of other people and their environment, as well as be optimistic and hopeful about the future.

According to this article, “Individuals who had higher level of resilience held significantly more positive cognitions and reported significantly higher levels of life-satisfaction and lower levels of depression (Mak, Ng, & Wong, 2011).”

Here is how the Positive Cognitive Triad relates to enhanced resilience.

Positive view of self

Viewing yourself in a positive light is a major starting point for healing negative wounds and having self-confidence to deal with hardships. Resilient people believe in their ability and competence to manage difficult or unexpected circumstances.

We are likely to have more positive self-talk, believe change and accomplishment is easy instead of difficult, and be overall more motivated when we feel good and view ourselves positively.

Positive view of the world and others

Resilient people are more likely to find and develop social resources. They believe that others are trustworthy and good, and are willing to seek helpful and advantageous resources when necessary. As well, when we view the world as a benevolent and generous place, we begin to take interest in other and seek new opportunities and experiences to bolster our well-being.

Positive view of the future

Resilient people have a sense of hope and optimism for the future. When things go awry, the outlook we hold can make or break our persistence. A positive and optimistic outlook gives us a sense that despite hardships things will turn out fine, and we will find a way to manage and cope with the struggles.

Be aware of your perspective and beliefs about yourself, the world, and your future, and realize that shifting your views can prompt the positive feedback loop you need to begin an upward spiral in positive emotion.

Photo credit: Lel4nd


Mak, W. S., Ng, S. W., & Wong, C. Y. (2011). Resilience: Enhancing Well-Being Through the Positive Cognitive Triad. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 58 (4), 610-617.

Flip Your Script: Use the “Positive” Cognitive Triad to Enhance Resiliency

Joe Wilner

Joe Wilner is a life coach, licensed clinical psychotherapist (LCP), and drummer from the band Yes You Are. He is also creator of You Have a Calling, a blog and online community helping people discover and pursue their life’s work and mission. Through deep and personalized coaching, he helps ambitious, creative, and spiritually minded individuals make a greater impact, grow as leaders, and design a soulful life they are inspired by.

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APA Reference
Wilner, J. (2011). Flip Your Script: Use the “Positive” Cognitive Triad to Enhance Resiliency. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 3, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Oct 2011
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