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How to Develop Inner Resources and Psychological Strength

How to Develop Inner Resources and Psychological Strength

Maybe you’ve known yourself to be fiercely compassionate. At the same time, you’ve always sort of wished you had more motivation. While you would never trade your compassion, you would love to get stronger in other areas.

People have different skills, talents, and interests that serve to make them stand out in a group. It’s these unique traits that make dynamic teamwork so effective as everyone has something fresh to bring to the table. We also have different psychological strengths –– inner resources –– that we can tap into. 


Maybe you’ve known yourself to be fiercely compassionate. It's an inner resource that has helped you build meaningful relationships, tap into empathy, and relate to others. At the same time, you’ve always sort of wished you had more motivation. It’s never been your strong suit, and while you would never trade your compassion, you would love to get stronger in other areas. Psychologist and author Rick Hanson developed a method to do just that –– strengthen psychological resources.


He says we have three basic needs: safety, satisfaction, and connection. You can meet each of these by strengthening twelve inner resources. 

  • For safety: compassion, grit, calm, courage
  • For satisfaction: mindfulness, gratitude, motivation, aspiration
  • For connection: learning, confidence, intimacy, generosity

Ask yourself: 

  1. What’s a common challenge you face? What category of need does it fall under?
  2. Which inner resource would be useful in your particular situation?
  3. How could you experience that inner resource or develop it in your mind?
  4. How could you internalize that experience?

Now, follow what Hanson calls the HEAL framework:

  • Have a beneficial experience: Create an experience that relates to the inner resource you’re trying to build. This could mean taking a self-defense class (safety), listing three things you’re grateful for (satisfaction), or practicing active-listening with a friend or coworker (connection).
  • Enrich the experience: Do what you can to intensify and expand the experience. This just means you focus on it longer, take a few deep breaths, and “turn up the volume” in your head.
  • Absorb the experience: Hanson says that trying to “cling” to an experience is futile, but you can choose certain aspects of the experience to revisit until they sink in.
  • Link bad to good: Pinpoint a negative experience that relates to the same inner resource you’re building. Your brain will naturally do this anyway, but be intentional. If you associate the two, but keep bringing your mind back to the positive experience, it will become easier over time to replace the negative thoughts.

We should celebrate our natural strengths, including our psychological strengths, but at the end of the day, there is nothing stopping us from getting stronger in other areas like confidence, mindfulness, and calm.

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