Take a moment to think about a happy moment in your life. It could have been a moment that occurred recently or a long time ago.
Perhaps it was when you or a family member graduated or when you got a promotion to the job of your dreams or when you asked someone out on a date and they said “yes” or when a new child is born.
What feelings did you have when this moment occurred? What is it joy, excitement, or surprise? How positive did you feel about yourself and your future? Probably great, right?
Now think about a tough situation that happened to you? What feelings did you experience then and how well did you feel about yourself and your future? Obviously, not as great as the positive experiences.
We all have good times and bad times in our lives but some people seem to be able to “bounce back” from tough times better than others. Some people can still feel optimistic about their future despite bad times.
We would call these people “resilient.” It is a desired quality to survive all the ups and downs in life. Those who have it, have an advantage at home, work, and life. If you don’t have a lot, then you feel all the pain of living in a much more dramatic way. Do you want more resiliency?
How do you get it? Is it purely genetics? Can you learn skills to improve it? Is it all chance, a luck of the draw?
Resilience is an interactive process between the characteristics of the person and the environment in which they live. Genetics does make a difference but they are not the only factor. They can make us more sensitive to negative experiences, like child maltreatment, parental neglect, the witness of violence, poverty, job loss, illness, etc. Our particular temperaments make us more or less vulnerable to the stress and trauma. Our bodily chemistry manages the expression of stress responses which affects our viewpoints about our circumstances and self-image.
This is just one variable in the science of resilience. The other, equally important factor, is the quality of our relationships. Stress can be managed when we have loving, caring, healthy people in our lives to help us through it. Research demonstrates that even if there is only one person who can support us we are more likely to cope with difficult events.
For example, if a child turns to the loving neighbor whenever dad is drunk and angry or mom and dad fight or mom too depressed to make dinner, then that child will have a greater capacity to “bounce back.” We call this type of person, a “cookie person” who offers warm, fresh cookies to eat when times are hard. Did you or do you have a “cookie person” that you can turn to when overwhelmed?
Unfortunately, not everyone has a “cookie person” in their lives. When a natural helper is not available people have to search our professional helpers, like therapists, teachers, and school counselors to help them. These professionals can offer a listening ear as well as teach skills to manage anger, improve parenting, manage finances, and navigate through community resources. This type of support balances out the negative situations to create more positive outcomes.
The most powerful truth, when it comes to building resilience, is that we are social beings that need other people. We thrive in healthy relationships. If we didn’t get this in childhood, we can still develop it in later life. Attachment researchers call this later development “earned security.”
A Zen saying that illustrates resiliency that comes from warm, social interactions is…
“If there is light in the soul, there is beauty in the person. If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house. If there is harmony in the house, then there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world!”
Can one person make a difference in the world? Yes. Are you that one person to one other person? Who can you turn to in your natural environment or who can you contact to help you professionally and create more resiliency in your life?
Get more resiliency tools in the Trauma Toolbox at http://FamilyHealerSchool.com
Need a speaker or consultant to help your organization become trauma-informed? Contact Ron Huxley today at firstname.lastname@example.org
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