Resilience Training

A Three Breath Traffic Light


traffic-lightsAs I prepare a resilience workshop, I would like to offer you a simple tool called the three breath Traffic Light.

In essence, you keep an image of a traffic light somewhere easy to find – like your phone or on your desk. Have an alarm prompt you every so often to look at this image.

The Red Light – is to remind you to just stop and breathe.

The Orange Light – to breathe and be aware you are breathing.

The Green Light – to breathe and then go.

While this may sound childishly simple, it’s power can be immense. Neurophysiologically speaking, “stopping” interrupts fear and flight or fight circuits from continuing to spread beyond their origin in the amydala. Becoming aware of the feeling of our breath, strengthens the links between the right and left sides of the brain. Finally when we breathe mindfully and “go” it restores brain function and control to the executive centres in the pre frontal cortex.

Or put simply, it gives us the power to choose how to respond, rather than be driven by subconscious lower brain impulses.

Faced with the breaking point pressures in the NHS as we have been for 3 years, it is worth remembering tools similar to this have helped rebuild inner strength and resilience in children exposed to much worse – the devastating trauma of 9/11. If it can work for them, it can work for us. Will you give it a try ?

Inner Resilience Program

Social and Emotional Learning


Personal Journal Public Sharing

Three Tests of a Humanitarian Crisis

The Red Cross says it is. The government says it isn’t. So how do we decide if the current stresses within the National Health Service are more than just seasonal pressures ? Here are three tests.

The “Duck” test: “if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck – it probably is a duck”. How do people and patients perceive not just their own care but the care of other patients beside them in the Emergency Department corridor or Acute Ward ?

The Expert test: What do the people who work with humanitarian crises day in and day out think about the situation ? The Red Cross has spoken, how about other similarly experienced individuals and organisations – what are their views ?

The Rationing Care test: how are clinicians and managers deciding on the best use of resources ? For example when the Emergency Department is overcrowded, which patient do we move into the corridor – the one least likely to come to harm or the patient most “likely to die anyway” ?

Difficult questions that we as clinicians, hospital managers and a community need to answer honestly and together. Not out of anger, but out of understanding and compassion.


“We who have experienced the war directly have a responsibility to share our insight and experience concerning the truth of war. We are the light at the tip of the candle.”
Vietnamese Zen Master to US War Veterans

Personal Journal Public Sharing


A friend sent me this story on social media. Within it lies a deep wisdom that can heal at its roots, the current crisis in our Emergency Care system …

“Recently I overheard a father and daughter in their last moments together at the airport. They had announced the departure.

Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the father said, ‘I love you, and I wish you enough.’

The daughter replied, ‘Dad, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Dad.’

They kissed and the daughter left. The Father walked over to the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me in by asking, ‘Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?’

‘Yes, I have,’ I replied. ‘Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?’

‘I am old, and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is – the next trip back will be for my funeral,’ he said.

‘When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, ‘I wish you enough..’ May I ask what that means?’

He began to smile. ‘That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone…’ He paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail, and he smiled even more. ‘When we said, ‘I wish you enough,’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them.’ Then turning toward me, he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.

I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.

He then began to cry and walked away.”

May I wish each of us enough.img_0223