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Top 10 Myths About Army Resilience Training

I use the skills I learned during Army resilience training Every. Single. Day.

No, really, I do. And I’m not just saying that because I work for the Army’s program that provides resilience training Army-wide. I’m also an Army Veteran and Army Spouse.

Back in 2009, when the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness (CSF2) program began (the Army program that offers resilience training), I was a company commander at Fort Campbell, and I had no clue the program even existed.

I’m now a new Army Spouse and am fortunate to work for CSF2. As part of my job, I participated in a resilience training course offered at Ft. Belvoir in December 2011, and I can honestly say that this is the first Army training I’ve taken that I apply to my life each and every day.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Good for her! But, since this is her job, of course she has the time to attend resilience training.” Or, “It’s her job to buy-in to this mushy stuff of ‘resilience’, but what’s in it for me?”

Trust me, we’ve heard it all from Soldiers and Spouses alike. But after they take the course, these people who didn’t want to attend now understand how important these skills are to them.  They start implementing immediately. So  may I present to you:

Top 10 Misconceptions about Resilience Training:

Resilience Training is touchy-feely. Army Resilience Training is about logic and reasoning, rather than “hugging it out.” The skills make us take a critical look at our thought processes, and help us understand how our thoughts impact our emotions and reactions.

Resilience can’t be taught – you either have it or you don’t. Resilience is a process, not a destination. While everyone already has a certain level of resilience, research proves that the skills taught by CSF2 actually increase resilience, regardless of how much you had to begin with.

 Resilience Training is only for young people who haven’t faced life’s challenges yet. Army Resilience Training is certainly great for people who may not have faced adversity, because it equips them to better cope when they ultimately do face challenges. However, when adversity strikes, whether you’re a Specialist, a Spouse or a Sergeant Major, arming yourself with a greater level of resilience will enable you to bounce back more effectively.

Resilience Training is only for weak-minded people.  Army Resilience Training is for everybody. Think of Resilience Training as preventive maintenance for your mind. Much like you periodically service your car to keep it running and more capable to handle what lies ahead on the road, Resilience Training is intended to keep your mind agile and capable handling what lies ahead in life.

Resilience Training isn’t based on hard science. The curriculum CSF2 uses is based on over 30 years of research in the area of positive psychology, including work conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Resiliency Project.

The results showed that this training prevents symptoms of depression and anxiety, increases optimism, and enhances well-being and physical health. It also had long-lasting effects after the training. What’s exciting is that research shows that you don’t need a PhD to deliver the training and achieve the same effectiveness. The U.S. Army tailored this curriculum, and has been using it to train Soldiers, Family members and Army Civilians since 2009.

Resilience Training is geared only toward Soldiers– there’s nothing in it for me. I hear ya. This training is mandatory for Soldiers, and is often delivered with them in mind.

Spouses are part of the Army Family, too. Learning how to better communicate with others, finding and sharing the good things that happen to you, and knowing the process to effectively solve a problem are skills we can all utilize and benefit from- regardless if you’re a Soldier or a Spouse

Resilience Training takes too long; I don’t have time for it. Every installation tackles Resilience Training a little differently, but the Army recognizes the time constraints faced by Family members. What’s great about Resilience Training is that it doesn’t have to be taught all at once; the skills stand on their own.

Sometimes training is offered in blocks of time – like a one-hour block or a three-hour block of instruction – and sometimes there are training marathons for a few days at a time. I recommend reaching out to your Family Readiness Group or local Army Community Service to learn about classes near you.

You can also check out CSF2’s new online self-development platform, ArmyFit™, at http://csf2.army.mil/armyfit.html. Here, Soldiers, Family members, and Army Civilians can access tools and resources that will help them improve their physical and psychological strength in the areas of social, emotional, spiritual, family and physical fitness.

Resilience skills are complicated– I can’t use them in my everyday life. Resilience skills take practice, but once you learn them, putting the skills into action becomes second nature. For instance, each night before we go to bed, my husband and I share three good things that happened that day. Because people tend to dwell on the negative things in our lives, taking time to remember the good helps build optimism. It’s called “Hunt the Good Stuff”, and it only takes a few minutes.

Being resilient is about thinking positive, and that everything will be fine. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, because life isn’t always easy. Resilience skills help you look at situations logically, dissecting between facts, thoughts, and consequences. By understanding all these facets, you’re able to better deal with things life throws at you.

Resilience training is only needed if you expect bad things to happen to you. We talk a lot about a resilience helping you ‘bounce back’ from adversity, but resilience also enables you to deal with the daily hassles of life, too. From traffic jams to workplace conflicts, to squabbles with my husband, resilience skills help me daily.

Want to see what other Army Spouses had to say? Check out some of their testimonials on the CSF2 YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/ArmyCSF2.For more information on CSF2, please visit our web site and chat with us on Facebook or Twitter @ArmyCSF2

Becky Farmer has been an Army Spouse for two months and has been working for Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness for over a year (contractor). 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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