How Resilience Training Can Change Your Life For The Better

By Joanna Smykowski

Updated August 27, 2019

Reviewer Kristen Hardin

Source: army.mil

Do you ever feel like you're at the mercy of factors you can't control? Do events happen that you have little power to change or people you rely on disappoint you? In times of adversity, what can help is having inner and outer resources to use that can enhance your resilience so that you can endure and recover more effectively. Resilience training is an organized way to develop and gain access to these resources.

How Resilient Are You?

Resilience refers the ability to endure adversity and adapt to major stresses and trauma. It's a process rather than an event that happens in an instant. Resilience can be viewed as being on a spectrum from great resilience to very little resilience. The good news is this is an ability you can gain even if you are not very resilient right now.

What It's Like to be Resilient

When you're resilient, you can recover from traumas and stressful situations very quickly. What's more, if you can't remove yourself from such a situation, you can endure it and still maintain a hopeful and positive quality of life. You feel a greater sense of well-being, and you're mentally and physically healthier as well.

Resilience helps you feel more in control of your life and more powerful to affect the outcome of the adverse situation for yourself. You can cope better with the problems that arise without becoming negative or ill.

What It's Like to Be Less Resilient

When you have low resilience, you tend to dwell on negative thoughts and problems. You're likely to feel overwhelmed more often. You find yourself trying to cope with your situation in ways that only aggravate the problem or make you feel worse in the long run.

Being less resilient can take a toll on your mental and physical health. You may suffer from depression, anxiety, or other stress-related illnesses. Each time something bad happens in your life, you become more negative and hopeless. You either have no ready resources to help you cope, or you don't know how to access them. You have a low quality of life and feel you have no power to change that.

The good news is that you can learn to become more resilient. One way to do this is to take a course in resiliency training.

What Is Resilience Training?

Resilience training is a program that teaches you how to adapt to, manage, and recover from adversity. These programs usually take only a few hours or days of intensive training. The content of resiliency training varies depending on the program. Typically, you assess your resilience factors, learn coping skills, build support systems, and learn to focus on problem-solving and gratitude.

Some experts have questioned the relatively short time frame, but you can learn the information you need to become more resilient in the training and it is up to you to apply it after the program. After such programs, people improve their resilience and quality of life and decrease depression and anxiety.

Resilience Factors

Several factors have been identified as contributing to resilience. Resilience training seeks to teach or encourage you to develop these resilience factors.

  • Setting realistic goals and making realistic plans
  • Taking positive steps to carry out plans
  • High self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to manage emotions and impulses well
  • Ability to accept change
  • Developing connections with others

Benefits of Resilience Training

Whether in a resilience training program or through therapy, you can benefit in several ways. These include:

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  • Move through hard times more quickly and easily
  • Manage chronic conditions
  • Find meaning in life
  • Decrease negative thoughts
  • Increase quality of life

What Is the Master Resilience Training Program?

The Master Resilience Training Program (MRT) is a program developed for the U.S. Army. The program came from a collaboration between the Army and the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. It is a 10-day program consisting of 7 modules and a part of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program.

Who is it for?

The Master Resilience Training Program is for officers in the U.S. Army. After success with the military members, the U.S. Army became interested in providing the training for the soldiers' families as well as military members not in combat.

Goals Of MRT

MRT was designed to prevent PTSD rather than waiting to treat it until after it's happened. Rather than give the training to every soldier, the goal has been to offer it to officers only. Then, the officers are responsible for passing on what they've learned to the soldiers below them.

MRT Modules

Master Resilience Training is divided into the seven following modules:

  • Resilience
  • Building mental toughness
  • Identifying character strengths
  • Strengthening relationships
  • A conclusion module for the preparation phase
  • Sustainment (reinforcing skills)
  • Enhancement (skills such as those taught by sports psychologists and used in sports training)

Learning How to Build Resilience

The entire reason for resilience training is to help participants learn to build resilience. For this, they learn to embrace specific attitudes, become more aware of themselves and their situation, and develop skills to manage and bounce back from adversity

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Stress Reduction

Resilience training programs typically teach stress management techniques. They also teach you how to avoid unnecessary stressors and minimize necessary stressors. Stress reduction techniques include meditation, imagery and visualization, yoga, deep breathing, and systematic muscle relaxation.

Coping Skills

Learning coping skills can help you cope with tragedy, trauma, and difficult situations. In addition to the stress reduction tactics listed above, coping skills can include: taking time for yourself, spending time with friends, spirituality, humor, physical activity, spending time outdoors and starting a hobby.

Self-Awareness

Resilience training begins with becoming more self-aware. Being aware of your strengths and knowing your challenges is the first step. You can look to appreciate the ways your situation helps you discover more about yourself. As you become more self-aware and positive, you can also develop greater self-esteem.

Being More Aware of Your Situation

When you're truly aware of everything about your situation, you can find the positive aspects of what you're going through or have gone through. You can stop catastrophizing and start noticing opportunities to learn more about yourself. You can learn to see your situation from a broader perspective.

Take Positive Actions

As you focus on the hope in your situation, you can learn to take positive steps rather than detaching your situation. You may be able to take decisive actions that will improve the situation itself, or your actions may minimize the damage it causes you.

Building Resilience in Children

People often say that "children are resilient." Because children are in a constant mode of change as they grow, it helps that they're naturally resilient to some extent.

For two reasons, it's important to help your child build resilience. First, most children may have the resilience to ordinary childhood stressors, but fewer children can bounce back after trauma or tragedy. Since you can't predict when something like this will happen, preparing them by building their resilience makes a lot of sense. Second, learning skills to improve resilience now can help them later in life.

Knowing how to build resilience in children starts with doing it for yourself. Then, you can share what you know with your kids. Building resilience in children takes some special techniques, though.

Caregiver Bond

During the first years of life, the child needs to have a strong bond with their primary caregiver. Bonding starts at or possibly even before birth. Skin-to-skin contact helps with bonding. An infant needs the caregiver's attention to their needs at all times. That doesn't mean the caregiver has to hold the infant or interact with them constantly. It does mean that they're aware of their needs and meet them as much as possible.

At about the age of 5, the child needs to be given more control over what they choose to have or do. They need to have more opportunities to solve their problems and be more independent. The caregiver still needs to make sure their needs are taken care of, and they get adequate time together.

Self-Esteem Building

There's been a lot of confusion over building self-esteem in children. At one time, experts advised parents to praise their children, regardless of whether they did anything significant or not.

Now, the trend is to suggest that parents give praise as praise is due, without withholding praise when they deserve it. The reason is that constant praise takes away the specialness of it. Children start get used to hearing it and after a while might even think you are just saying it because you are their parent. It is best to give specific praise, "you cleaned your room all by yourself and did such a good job picking up your toys!" is more helpful than, "you are the best kid ever!"

You can also help your child build self-esteem by getting them involved in volunteer projects, hobbies, and skill-based activities. They'll not only feel better about themselves, but they'll also learn empathy as well as skills they can use later in life.

Resilience Resources

Several resilience resources are available if you'd like to learn more about how to build your resilience. Reading helpful resilience books can increase your understanding. You can also get one-on-one help through therapy sessions. The following three resources can help you learn and increase your resilience.

Connections

"Connections A 12 Session Psychoeducational Shame Resilience Curriculum" by Brene Brown is a curriculum and handbook for teaching resilience classes. The 12-session course can be used in many different settings, often as a part of helper-training.

The curriculum consists of individual and group activities using cognitive behavioral techniques. The course is designed to teach people that shame happens to everyone, but you can choose to live authentically, without shame.

Option B

"Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy" by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant have a title that refers to the fact that many of us are living a plan B that we didn't choose. It's another book that can help you develop greater resilience. The book can be used by individuals who want to learn how to build resilience or in community organizations, and workplaces. It outlines a step-by-step way to approach difficult situations that can help you recover and enjoy life again. It explains how to help people who are in crisis to help them become more resilient.

Therapy

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Resilience training is not the only way to increase your resilience. Or, you may do resilience training and find that you would like to gain even more skills. For that, you work with a therapist. You can even try online therapy. Talking to a licensed counselor at BetterHelp.com can help you improve your resilience through a variety of techniques. These include not only using outside resilience resources but also your therapist is trained to practice. With resilience training, you can prepare for a healthier, more satisfying and stable life. It is easy to get started with BetterHelp. All you need is an internet connection and a smart phone, tablet, or computer. Get started today!


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