Pillars of Resiliency: Warren educates Airmen on mental, emotional wellness

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- *Editor's note: This article is the third of a four-part series that will cover each of the four pillars of resiliency. The articles will run each week during the month of September.

The pillars of resiliency are designed to provide balance to one's life. There are four pillars: social and family, physical, mental and emotional, and spiritual. Each pillar has separate key concepts, but all add together to create a checklist that can help one drive toward success.

"The ability to critically examine how one's thoughts and attitudes are affecting his/her behaviors and situations is the key to maintaining mental health," said Joe Martini, 90th Missile Wing community support coordinator.

Critical thinking skills such as maintaining situational awareness and understanding the effects of our own perceptions demonstrate how to effectively solve problems, Martini said.

The main focus of the mental and emotional pillar is maintaining a higher self-confidence in your life and knowing the difference between self-confidence and self-esteem.

"Self-confidence comes from your strive to not give up," said Glenn Garcia, Mental Health Clinic outreach program manager. "Going through challenges in your life and refusing to give up makes you a better person by instilling confidence inside yourself."
Self-esteem, on the other hand, is an idea of greatness, Garcia said. It is something that can break or deflate and leave you feeling low.

"You need to build your self-confidence, not your self-esteem," Garcia said. "Self-confidence will maintain through hardships, where self-esteem will rise and fall with each different outcome."

In-order to build self confidence, people must have a variety of skills: being happy or having a sense of humor, maintaining a positive attitude, being emotionally stable, resolving one's past trauma, and having a positive inner voice.

A sense of humor helps keep people from allowing stress to take over their lives. Humor can play a big role in stress management.

"Being able to laugh can help lower stress," Garcia said. "When someone becomes overly stressed, the first thing we see them lose is their sense of humor. Everyone knows someone who always appears angry or in a bad mood. These people tend to be overly stressed."

When stress becomes an issue, controlling one's attitude becomes key.

"Sometimes the only thing you can control in your life is your attitude," Garcia said. "Toxic attitudes can poison your personal life as well as the workplace. On the opposite side, a positive attitude can increase your personal and work life. "

A positive attitude is sometimes hard to maintain when something bad happens. Events can vary from something as big as a death in the family to something minor such as being cut off while driving. The effects such as road rage are emotions or attitude that can easily be avoided. This is where emotional stability kicks in.

"When something negative happens in your life, are you able to handle it appropriately? You must be able to handle any situation that arises by keeping calm and collect, and not breaking down." Garcia said. "Many times in life you find out that bad things happen to good people."

Remaining emotionally stable is sometimes difficult depending on what obstacles arise. A factor in maintaining stable is past trauma. As a piece to the emotional aspect of the pillar, resolving past traumas helps people remain in a stable state of mind.

Traumas can include many different things - bad break-ups, parental issues, etc.

"People hold on to trauma and don't let go or forgive themselves," Garcia said. "Most people can resolve the trauma in their lives just by talking to someone. People are scared to talk about it because they think talking will lead to the other person to judge them. That is usually not the case. When someone talks, they usually find out that it leads to acceptance and closer bonds. Sharing creates a sense of relief in the individual. This is a big key to acquiring self-actualization."

The final piece to the puzzle is having a positive inner voice which helps people process information and work through their problems that arise.

"Is your inner voice helpful? Is it a positive motivator or a negative tear down?" Garcia said.

A positive inner voice comes from having self-confidence and self-assurance.

"Being optimistic is a very important mental aspect," Martini said. "Traits like optimism, which are correlated with happier individuals and healthier families, can be learned and modeled for our Airmen."

The ability to talk through problems that arise and motivate someone to achieve greatness is the important part of the mental pillar, Garcia said.

"Most people who fail to meet their goals they set for themselves fail because of doubt within themselves," Garcia said. "The people who achieve greatness tell themselves to be great."