Pillars of Resiliency: Social, Family

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- *Editor's note: This article is the first part 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 main concept of the social and family pillar is removing the feeling of isolationism and striving toward being a part of a community.

"We are social creatures and do our best when we feel part of something," said Glenn Garcia, Mental Health Clinic outreach program manager. "It gives us a sense of personal identity when we are involved in social activities."

The social pillar has a number of selected categories that help solidify the pillar, Garcia said. Each category is a "box" designed to bring the pillar to a stable foundation.

The first category is having a healthy primary relationship. This is generally with one's significant other: a boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife. A healthy relationship is one where both sets of goals are aimed toward a similar path, and each one supports the other as they strive to achieve their goals.

"Unhealthy relationships can prevent you from success," Garcia said. "Being with someone who has your best interests at heart helps push you toward success."
Next is the category of having positive friends.

"Has your mother ever told you that hanging out with a certain person would lead to bad choices? Well it's true," Garcia said. "Your friends have an influence on you that greatly affects the choices you make."

People who one chooses to spend time with can affect his or her own attitude. Hanging around mostly negative people who always seem to tear others down, can make one begin to think negatively and tear down others. This goes the same with positive friends; spending time with people who strive to help others achieve their goals and raise their spirits causes others to make similar decisions.

"Building relationships is the most important aspect of the social pillar," said Bob Frohnapfel, Airman and Family Readiness Center community readiness consultant. "When challenges arise, it is necessary to have a positive support network to fall back upon that can help you get through it."

The next piece of the pillar is having a sense of belonging. When people bring others into their conversations or invite others to places, the sense of belonging adds value to life.

"For the average Airman, it is vital to have a sense of personal identity," Frohnapfel said. "It helps you see how you fit into the big picture and have pride in what you do."
One of the final categories is limiting the use of technology.

It has been said limiting technology to less than two hours a day can be beneficial in life, Garcia said. More people are spending time on social media sites rather than spending time out with friends.

"The problem with [social media sites such as] Facebook is that it creates an atmosphere that tears down our self-confidence and self-worth," Garcia said. "We see other people going out and living their lives as we sit around and accomplish nothing. Our first thought is, 'I need to post something to make my life look interesting to compete.'"

The final category designed to help is being free of violence or abuse. Separation from things designed to hurt - bad relationships or friendships - can help one remain focused on the tasks needing to be accomplished.

"The problem is talking about the issues [of violence and abuse]," Garcia said. "Co-workers and friends are afraid to ask the difficult questions. They are afraid of getting a positive response and not knowing how to handle it."

The social pillar has a host of smaller categories that all stress a similar importance; the need to be a part of something, whether it's a community or a religion or a group of friends.

"We understand the Air Force has removed you from your support network," Frohnapfel said. "Whether it was a church group or being part of a sports team, joining the military made you leave that behind. The concept of the social pillar is to help you re-establish those connections."