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Posts tagged ‘emotional resilience’

Feeling stressed out? Here is a way to gain greater control of your life.

The Values-In-Action (VIA) Survey of Character Strengths identifies character strengths that we all have within us. Once you are aware of your unique strengths, by taking the VIA Character Strength Survey,  you can actively cultivate your personal character strengths. Benefits of doing so include increased self-esteem, sense of life mastery and greater fulfilment. Two of the 24 strengths on the survey are Judgment, Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness; and Creativity, Ingenuity and Originality. If these are two of your strengths, here are some ways in which they can be cultivated.

To cultivate Judgment, Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness:

•    Join multi-cultural celebrations or events. This develops a positive self-perception through increased knowledge of diverse histories, groups and cultures, and their respective contributions to the society.

•    Be neutral in a situation. Hear out both side’s issue without your own personal biases.

•    Participate in other religions’ or spiritual philosophies’ gatherings and events. Try to build fellowship with other believers. You may also try joining a political party that is different from your own.

•    Take a new class or take up a new hobby or sport.

•    Watch shows that you usually do not watch.

•    Invite a colleague that you know has different ideas from your own to lunch.

•    Ask yourself each day about a certain thing you strongly believe in and critique it. Find out more information on the topic to learn even more. .  .

To cultivate Creativity, Ingenuity and Originality:

•    Accept that you are a creative person.  When faced with a task, ask yourself, “What is the most creative way in which I can approach this task?” try to use spare time during the day to write a short poem, draw a simple picture or write in your journal.

•    Rearrange your house, room, dormitory, apartment, office or work place. Move a piece of furniture to a new place.  Try to shuffle the things to improve your disposition and mood.

•    Compose a literary work and publish it in a magazine or newspaper, or the very least post it as a blog.

•    Discover a new word daily, know its meaning, and use it with creativity.

Deborah Barnett, Ph.D.
Positive Psychology counselling in Asheville, NC and Phone Consulting for creating positive, powerful results in your life.
www.DeborahBarrnett.com

Many people from time to time feel blue, depressed, or anxious. For some people these emotions are a common experience. Whether depression or anxiety is familiar to you or a rare occurrence, it is helpful to have tools to pick yourself back up when needed.

Positivity Portfolio

One way to increase positive emotion is to create positivity portfolios for yourself. A positivity portfolio is a collection of items of your choosing that represent and remind you of a specific positive emotion. Each portfolio you create will represent one positive emotion. One portfolio may be on “serenity” another on “love,” etc.

Your positivity portfolio “container” may be a manila folder, a folder on an MP3 player, or a special box. Once you decide what positive emotion your first portfolio will represent for you, you can then fill your portfolio with items that lead you toward that positive emotion when you look at the items. For example, if your positivity portfolio is about “love” you might have in your portfolio:
A copy of a sweet email that you received from someone you love
Photos of loved ones
Love poems
Video clips that represent love to you
A love song
A lotion with a sent that makes you feel loved

Tips for creating and using your Positivity Portfolios:
You will want to ultimately make several positivity portfolios, for the various positive emotions you want to generate for yourself.
Be creative! If an item reminds you of the intended emotion, than it is fine to include!
Take your time when creating your portfolios. The creation process itself feels good!
Pull out one of your positivity portfolios when you feel the slighted hint of a negative emotion
Let your portfolios evolve – add and subtract items when necessary
Engage with your portfolios mindfully and with an open heart.

James Pawelski, director of education for the Master of Applied Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, came up with the idea of a positivity portfolio. This idea has now been researched by Barbara Frederickson of UNC Chapel Hill. Feel free to comment below and share how you have used your positivity portfolio(s).

Here’s to feeling good!

Deborah Barnett, Ph.D.

With practice you can become more flexible in your thinking

In their book The Resilience Factor, Karen Reivich, Ph.D. and Andrew Shatte, Ph.D. have a wonderful metaphor for examining the beliefs that go through your mind moment to moment. It is called the Ticker-Tape. Imagine the signs that display the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the current news ticker at the bottom of your television screen. Ticker-Tape beliefs are those that run through our mind on our internal “ticker-tape.” Often these beliefs are unconscious. They are very important, however, because they determine how you will likely respond emotionally, and what action you are likely to take, in reaction to an event that happens to you.

It is important, therefore, to be aware of the beliefs that go across your ticker-tape. If you are not, Reivich and Shatte suggest setting an alarm at intervals throughout the day, and then noticing what your thoughts and emotions are when the alarm goes off.

There two primary types of beliefs of which to be aware. These are beliefs asking “why” something happened, and “what-next” beliefs, which lead to concerns and assumptions about what is going to happen next.

Why Beliefs
If you find that you are asking “why” beliefs, you might notice, as Martin Seligman discovered, that “why” or causal beliefs fall into one of three categories:
Personal (me versus not me) in which we attribute an event as being our fault, versus possibly due to the influence of others. For example: “This always happens to me!” versus, “Maybe my team is having a bad day?”
Permanent (always versus not always) in which we explain that something always happens versus recognizing that it does not always happen. For example: “Every time I go on vacation it rains.” virus “There are times I have traveled and experienced good weather.”
Pervasive (everything versus not everything) For example: “This bad news that I have to work this Saturday. Is going to ruin my entire week.” versus “Working on Saturday will give me extra money so that I can take my family out to dinner.”

“What’s Next?”
If when examining your beliefs, if you find yourself worrying about the future and what happens next, this can lead to anxiety if you feel unprepared. If you are having huge negative “what’s next” beliefs, this can make your anxiety so strong that you have difficulty effectively solving problems.

The key to effective, healthy thinking and problem solving is to be flexible and have a balance of “why” and “what’s next” beliefs.

In my next post I will offer suggestions on how to be more flexible in your thinking by challenging your beliefs.

If you are interested in support on becoming more flexible in your thinking and skillful in your decision making, I would be happy to support you along the way! Contact me for an individual consultation.
Deborah Barnett, Ph.D.
www.DeborahBarnett.com

Soldiers May Benefit trom Emotional Resilence

Soldiers May Benefit from Emotional Resilience

The US Army is assessing ways to increase soldier resilience. The goal is to help soldiers become more physically and mentally fit, so that when they experience traumatic events, the impact will not be as severe and they will be better equipped to mentally manage the traumatic experience. Army Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Rhonda Cornum is director of the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program. She believes that the new program will help soldiers to increase their resilience physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually, plus, in addition, have a healthier family life.  

Positive Psychology is playing a role in supporting soldier resilience. Currently, 1.1 million soldiers are scheduled to be trained in positive psychology techniques to improve their emotional resilience. At the University of Pennsylvania, sergeants are being trained to help soldiers learn how to be optimistic, combat catastrophic thoughts, use their strengths and increase effective social communication. The goal is that this will increase the performance and resilience of soldiers and decrease depression and anxiety.

How will this help army soldiers? The unrest in the Middle East necessitates a need for solders to frequently be deployed overseas for a year and then back home for a year, before going overseas again. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. stated that the frequent deployments cause mental stress for solders. Casey observed that while the army has programs in place for addressing the effects of trauma on solders after it occurs, very little to date has been done in the area of lessening the impact of traumatic experiences for solders.

One concept of Positive Psychology is that of Post-Traumatic Growth. The evidenced-based concept shows that when individuals do experience a high-stress or traumatic event they often experience growth afterward, leading to increased self-awareness, appreciation of life, inner strength and spiritual growth. Some solders experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)after being in combat. Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, a heightened startle reflex and avoidance of anything associated with the traumatic experience. Casey noted that after soldiers are in combat not all experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Many, Casey stated, experience Post Traumatic Growth. Casey believes that with Resilience Training solders will be less likely to experience Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and more will experience growth.

Some, such as Guided Imagery expert Bellruth Naparstek, have criticized this move by the army of investing so much into the resilience training of soldiers. What is important to remember is that almost all therapies, including guided imagery, are based on treatment of PTSD, once it has occurred. Positive Psychology is being implemented as a prevention technique to reduce the occurrence of trauma and increase post-traumatic growth. The evidence that Positive Psychology can do this is very good. Kudos to the army for taking a stand and using preventative measures to improve the life-quality, and hopefully reduce the trauma, for the soldiers who risk their lives in combat.

Deborah Barnett, Ph.D.
Phone Coaching and Counseling for Business Success and Personal Thriving
www.DeborahBarnett.com