Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Achieving Resilience

Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Achieving Resilience

by Hilary Valdez
Stripes Guam

Life consists of what a person is thinking about all day. We produce about 48 thoughts per minute or up to 50-70 thousand thoughts a day. Anywhere between 70 to 80 percent of those thoughts are negative adding up to about 40,000 negative thoughts per day. On average, 90% of the thoughts are the same as we had yesterday.

So, look, when you wake up in the morning do you gingerly pop-out of bed like warm toast, with an attitude of gratitude? Do you throw your arms up over your head shouting, “Alas, I’m born again!”

Do you ask yourself, “What am I willing to do today?” or “What do I want to see happen?”

Are you an optimistic thinker or a pessimistic thinker? Positive people are happier, have less depression, have fewer illnesses, live longer, are better leaders, have stronger relationships, perform better in sports and under pressure. So, what’s it gonna be? Positive or negative thinking?

Life has no end of difficulties; enter resiliency.

Bounce not break: Resilient people bounce, not break when faced with an adversity or challenge. Resiliency can be developed, and everyone can enhance his or her resilience by developing resiliency competencies. The inherent law of nature is that people carve out their own destiny — you make yourself what you are.

A resilient individual is one who is willing to take calculated, necessary risks, and to capitalize on opportunity. Resilience is the ability to grow and thrive in the face of challenges. It is built through a set of core competencies that enable mental toughness, optimal performance, strong leadership, and goal achievement. As we accept who we are, with our pimples and dimples, we have the possibility of becoming someone else. Life is like a blind date, sometimes you have to have a little faith. Hold your own hand and go for it.

To begin achieving resilience use the IDEAL model to communicate assertively: 
• I = Identify and understand the problem 
• D = Describe the problem objectively
• E = Express your concerns and how you feel
• A = Ask the other person for his/her perspective and ask for a reasonable change
• L = List the positive outcomes that will occur if change occurs.

These ideas are like wearing new shoes, stiff and uncomfortable. But after a while, natural and comfortable. It works when you work it, just have to work it. Practice, practice, practice.

Beliefs are like tires, they wear out. What are some core beliefs your parents taught you? Identify your deep beliefs and core values that fuel out-of-proportion emotions and evaluate the accuracy and usefulness of your beliefs.

Rigid beliefs can cause you to fall into repeated emotional patterns and thinking errors aka circular thinking, or thinking traps. I learned this the hard way; it took a long time for me to realize what I inherited from my parents. We inherit their gold and their garbage…sorry mom.

Learn from failure and find meaning in setbacks. I have difficulty with this one. But I muddle through it for answers. Stay positive. We must accept life for what it is — a challenge to our beings. You have the power to change anything about yourself. Every day is a gift exchange. I give and I will receive. The more fully we give our energy, the more it returns to us.

Life Hint: Recognize your strengths and what needs to be strengthened.


Hilary Valdez is a retiree living in Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle. Learn more about Valdez and contact him at or at

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