3 Easiest Resiliency Skills Ever!

military spouses with service members
(EJ Hersom/DVIDS)

Now that we’ve dispelled the myths about Army Resilience Training and hopefully explained the benefit of the training to Army spouses, I want to get you started on a few skills that you can begin putting into practice today.

The Army’s Resiliency Training curriculum is adapted from the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Resiliency Project and tailored for an Army audience.

The skills are applicable to everyone, developing the core competencies of resilience such as self-awareness, communication and optimism. While no blog can replace a session with your friendly, neighborhood Master Resilience Trainer, I think you can get some value from these three simple resilience skills:

1. Hunt the Good Stuff

Hunting the Good Stuff is a skill that helps you to create positive emotion by noticing and analyzing what is good in your life.

This is important because we tend to focus on what isn’t good – it’s called the “negativity bias.” Here are three easy steps to starting hunting the good:

First, identify three things that went well during your day.

Then write them down, or share with someone close to you. I do this to encourage my husband to practice Hunt the Good Stuff with me.

Next, reflect on why each thing happened, what each good thing means to you, what you can do tomorrow to enable more of that good thing and what ways you or others contribute to this good thing.

Countering the negativity bias helps build optimism, and that leads to other benefits such as better health, better sleep, better relationships and greater life satisfaction.

2. Effective Praise

Good job! Way to go! How often do you praise family, friends or coworkers with these simple phrases? They sure are nice, but they’re not effective.

What makes praise effective is describing why or how what they did was good. By being specific, you reinforce the specific behavior or action that achieved success. Effective praise also demonstrates that you were really watching.

For instance, let’s say your spouse did the grocery shopping this week, and he actually used coupons, bought the preferred brands of foods and put everything away in the kitchen where it belongs. In the past, I would have said, “Good job with the groceries, honey.”

However, now that I know the skill of Effective Praise (and because I don’t mind relinquishing responsibility of grocery-getting), I would say, “Thanks for going to the grocery store. I noticed you saved us money by using the coupons, and that you bought our favorite ice cream! It was really easy making dinner because everything was in its place!”

Receiving praise makes people feel good. Receiving Effective Praise makes people feel good, AND empowers them with the ability to earn more praise in the future.

3. Real-Time Resilience

You are about to give a huge presentation at work. Your son just asked you to help with his geometry homework and you haven’t picked up a math book in years. You are about to take your European driver’s license exam. Events like these can trigger counterproductive thoughts for us.

Counterproductive thoughts are ones that distract you from your task and drain your motivation. The skill of Real-Time Resilience (RTR) is designed to obliterate these counterproductive thoughts using Evidence, Optimism, and ‘Put It In Perspective’.

This is an internal skill, so unless you’re in a room all by yourself, you’ll have this conversation with yourself in your mind. Below, I’ll provide examples of counterproductive thoughts and the RTR response to squash each.

Counterproductive thought: “This is a complex presentation… what if I choke?”

Response using Evidence: “I arranged effective notes on my note cards. I can rely on them when I need to, in order to complete my presentation.”

Counterproductive thought: “I haven’t done an equation in 20 years! What if I don’t know what to do and I’m not able to help my son?”

Response using Optimism: “I might not know this material cold, but I can share this learning experience with my son, and we can bond over it.”

Counterproductive Thought: “There are too many road signs! I’m going to mix them all up!”

Response using 'Put It In Perspective': “I could mix up the signs, but they are only a small portion of the test. I can still make up for it in the multiple-choice questions.”

Everyone tends to use one RTR style more than others. I favor using evidence, but you may like another one.

Like any other skill, these resilience skills take time and practice to master them. I promise - the learning curve isn’t too steep! Try and find time this week to test out each of these skills, and let us know how you did!

Becky Farmer is an Army Spouse and works for Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness. She spent nearly ten years on active duty as an Army officer with three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. She is also a certified Master Resilience Trainer. Her family is currently stationed at Fort Carson, CO.

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