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In this activity…

Student practice using Real-Time Resilience taglines through improvisation activities with partners.

And the point is…

Practice. Practice. Practice. Stormy First Drafts are an evolutionary mechanism for survival that have driven reactions and automatic responses for centuries – it’s not possible to change these thought patterns overnight. Real-Time Resilience skills must be continuously practiced and used, to narrow the gap between students' first and second drafts, and to start making less mistakes the first time around. Students will find it easier to practice Real-Time Resilience skills with partners, where they can tackle someone else’s negative thoughts (rather than their own), and where they can use imaginative scenarios, before tackling real-world problems.

By using improvisation, approaching the skill with distance, and incorporating humor, this lesson marks the start of a student's journey to becoming real-time resilient.  

Materials: Resilience Taglines Handout; Real-Time Resilience Scenarios


Prime students by saying, “Great! You’ve calmed your emotions and focused your thoughts. Now what?” Then, explain that this is where Real-Time Resilience Skills come into play. Tell students that Real-Time Resilience involves talking back to non-resilient, counterproductive thoughts in the moment, and that Real-Time Resilience skills are a way for students to reality-check their Stormy First Draft. Using information from the READY section and the slidedeck, briefly describe each of the three resilience taglines and provide an example of their application. These explanations and examples are also included in a handout, which you should print and share with each student before starting the improvisation activity.

Real-Time Resilience Taglines Handout available in downloads section on this page.

After explaining the resilience taglines, introduce the action-step of this activity where students will work in pairs and use improvisation to practice Real-Time Resilience. Using your own judgement, either allow students to pick their own partners or assign partners. The attached document includes six different scenarios and should be printed enough times for every pair of students to have one scenario. Using the information provided in the scenarios, students will work together to act out an internal dialogue between the character’s non-resilient counterproductive thoughts, and their Real-Time Resilience reality-checks.

Give students about 5 minutes to complete each scenario. Let partners know that, during this time, they will start by reading the scenario and deciding who will take the role of the non-resilient, counterproductive thoughts, and who will be responsible for the Real-Time Resilience reality checks. Then, tell students that they will use the remaining time to act out a realistic, internal dialogue for the character in the scenario. Explain that the student taking on the negative role will articulate the character’s worst-case scenario, self-deprecating thoughts, and the student taking on the resilient role will use any or all of the Real-Time Resilience taglines to make counterarguments. After 5 minutes, get partners to switch scenarios with another team and switch roles. Repeat this process until each team has practiced every scenario once (six times total, 30 minutes).

Scenarios Document available in downloads section on this page.

Wrap-up this activity with a 5-10-minute discussion addressing the following questions:

  • What was hardest about using Real-Time Resilience skills? Why was it hard?
  • Did using Real-Time Resilience skills get easier with practice?
  • How did it feel to say non-resilient, negative thoughts out loud? Did saying these thoughts out loud change the way you think or feel about your internal dialogue?
  • Do you think that it will be easier or harder to use Real-Time Resilience skills for yourself in your everyday life? Why?
  • Think about a past experience where you were immersed in your emotions and making up a story. How might using Real-Time Resilience skills have changed the way you approached the situation? How might these skills have changed the outcome of the situation?
  • Do you think that you will be able to use these skills in your everyday life? Why or why not?
  • What might get in the way of using Real-Time Resilience skills? How can you remove or minimize this barrier?

What if my Stormy First Draft turns out to be true?

Sometimes your Stormy First Draft will turn out to be true. When that happens, it might require a rumble – a tough but refreshing conversation with the people who are part of your Stormy First Draft (even if that’s just yourself). Remember that in order to rumble, everyone in the conversation needs to commit to six things: (1) Leaning into vulnerability, (2) Staying curious and generous, (3) Sticking with the messy middle of problem identification and solving, (4) Taking a break or time out if needed, and circling back when necessary, (5) Being honest and owning their part, and (6) Listening with the same passion with which they want to be heard. This rumble will help you discuss what happened, what needs to change moving forward, as well as how that change can be made. It’s important that everyone has an opportunity to share their side of the story so that you can collectively construct a more representative account of what happened.

I can’t do it! I keep trying to change my story but every time I am in the same situation, I end up at square one, with a Stormy First Draft that I need to edit.

That’s normal. These skills are not meant to immediately or consistently change negative thought patterns. Instead, the focus is on building awareness about your thought processes, finding alternative ways to approach a situation, and gaining perspective. These skills need to be continuously and consistently practiced. It’s also important to recognize that it’s not possible to skip the first draft. As you practice these skills it may take less time to transition from your first to your second draft, or you might make less mistakes in your first draft, but your first draft will ALWAYS need to be proofread/reality-checked.

A Note on Appropriate Use

Brené Brown emphasizes that the process of identifying Stormy First Drafts is personal. The phrases “The story I’m telling myself is…” or “The story I’m making up is…” are “I” statements and shouldn’t be turned into “The story you’re telling yourself is…” or “The story you’re making up is…”. People need to recognize their own Stormy First Drafts to be able to make effective changes. Additionally, when someone else imposes a Stormy First Draft, the natural reaction is to become defensive and deny the accusation. If you have a trusting and safe relationship with another person, you might be able to guide them towards discovering their SFDs by asking, “What’s the story you’re telling yourself about what’s happening?”.