***Post written by Bob Bayuk, Northwest Representative for WSPA***

An incredibly important ‘skill’ required for success in the 21st Century world of work is resilience.  The traditionally-viewed values and merits of the first three “Rs,” ‘readin’, ‘ritin’ and ‘rithmetic’ remain critical, of course.  But other “Rs” are needed nowadays for success in the workplace as well.  Resilience is one of those other “Rs.”  While resilience is talked about and read about in our work, let’s look at two of the factors that make up resilience: emotional awareness and emotional regulation, what we call protective factors

Building resilience includes strengthening emotion awareness and regulation. First, being able to identify, label, and express emotions and control emotions when it is appropriate to do so.  Impulse control—the ability to identify impulses and resist impulses that are counterproductive for the situation at hand or for achieving long-term goals; cognitive flexibility—being able to identify multiple causes of problems and to see situations from multiple perspectives; realistic optimism—thinking optimistically within the bounds of reality; self-efficacy being confident in one’s ability to identify and implement coping and problem solving skills that are well-suited to the situation; and strong relationships—being able to empathize with others and having abilities to navigate the ups and downs of relationships.

The ABC intervention model says that different people feel and respond differently to the same event because of idiosyncratic beliefs about those events. A stands for activating event. The As are not the direct cause of the consequences (Cs, emotions and behaviors) that we experience. Rather, it is our thoughts and beliefs about the event (our Bs) that mediate the effects of events on our behavior and feelings. We teach kids how to identify the link between their thoughts and feelings/behaviors, and in this process they come to understand that their belief systems may not be wholly accurate. Practicing ABC is particularly important for kids who are struggling with anxiety and depression issues because it serves as the first step toward changing the beliefs that are fueling their ‘bad’ emotional reactions.

An ABC model helps to build emotional awareness and regulation.  Through the use of this skill, kids practice identifying their emotional reactions, differentiating among emotions, and assessing the intensity of the emotion they feel. In addition, we believe this skill helps promote stronger relationships by enhancing empathy.  Kids learn how to anticipate, identify, and label the emotions that others may experience in a variety of common hardships and troubles we all face.

The ABC skill represents a glimpse into one’s thoughts or beliefs during a particular activating event. Although this is useful, it is also important for the kids to begin to notice patterns in how they think about the events in their lives. It has been well documented that our automatic thoughts are influenced by the styles (or schemas) we have for processing information which, to some degree, predetermine our responses to any given event. Our goal is to help the kids detect patterns in their thinking and emotions that may be counterproductive for them. As one seventh-grade boy said to me, “I never really thought about how much of the time I feel embarrassed. I guess I kind of thought all kids feel embarrassed all the time. Now I’m starting to see that maybe I don’t have to feel this way so much; that maybe I’m worrying too much about what other kids are thinking of me—when they probably aren’t even thinking about me!”