In essence, these therapies encourage the patient to confront the fear and anxiety head on.They tend to disengage rapidly from problems that appear to be unsolvable.That is, they know when to cut their losses and turn their attention to problems that they believe they can solve. When Laurence Gonzales studied survivors of life-threatening scenarios he found the same thing: they balance positivity with realism.But what about when your optimism gets tested and things get scary? When you face your fears they become less frightening.Neuroscience says there’s only one real way to deal with fear: you need to face it, head on. From Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges: To extinguish a fear-conditioned memory, one must be exposed to the fear-inducing stimulus in a safe environment, and this exposure needs to last long enough for the brain to form a new memory which conveys that the fear-conditioned stimulus is no longer dangerous in the present environment.
From Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges: Like pessimists, realistic optimists pay close attention to negative information that is relevant to the problems they face.However, unlike pessimists, they do not remain focused on the negative.Brain imaging findings suggest that extinction may involve a strengthening of the capacity of the PFC to inhibit amygdala-based fear responses (Phelps et al., 2004).Several approaches to treating anxiety disorders such as PTSD and phobias have been shown to be effective in promoting extinction.
They spoke with Vietnam prisoners of war, Special Forces instructors and civilians who dealt with terrible experiences like medical problems, abuse and trauma. But what’s more interesting is that they’re not talking about delusional, pollyanna-style, rose-colored glasses here. Steven Southwick and Dennis Charney have studied resilient people for over 20 years.