SITE: Resiliency LINKS
• Social support depends on how well a person can – rely on or turn to – others for ‘presence‘, advice or encouragement.
Positive relationships: Scientific studies show they form external nourishment that creates the inner resources to soften harmful reaction to stress, & increases feelings of well-being.
For P-TG (post-trauma recovery) to be successful, people need to receive & take in the benefits of social support. Resilience is not developed by suffering in isolation, but rather by surrounding oneself with the right kind of friends – & any family members with enough mental health to be encouraging companions.
Finding one or more communities (12-Step, MeetUp.com, spiritual, intellectual, political….) – with its variety of personalities – can help by sharing one’s burdens, as well as seeing one’s troubles from new perspectives. Groups provide a sense of connection that reduces loneliness, & maybe even healthy role models (not co-dep or symbiotic) to encourage a genuine sense of worth never received from one’s family.
EXP: After 9/11, New Yorkers who used a variety of emotional supports had a faster recovery, with fewer PTSD symptoms.
Cooperativeness – DEF: “behavior that benefits the group rather than the individual, which ultimately benefits the individual”- opposite of competitiveness.
It’s the ability to connect with others with sympathy or empathy, rather than being insensitive. It’s evaluated in terms of how – forgiving, helpful, principled & tolerant – someone is. Highly cooperative people (not co-deps) are able to accept, even empathize with another’s point of view or behavior, even when those are unhealthy or contrary to their own. When there are conflicts, ‘centered’ people don’t lose sight of their own principles while working out solutions to get the best results for everyone. In terms of resiliency, when we cooperate we’re less stuck in our pain
Acts of Kindness: Giving a moment of oneself to others is tied to P-TG resilience. Acts of altruism decrease stress & encourages the giver’s mental health. Volunteering has been found to increase self-worth & the sense of efficacy, adding meaning & purpose. (“I have an effect on my world, I matter, I can make a difference”).
Studies have found that the beneficial effects of serotonin (the ‘happiness & comfort’ neurotransmitter) increases in people who have just engaged in an act of kindness.
This boost has a cumulative effect. Adding generous actions to one’s life – consistent or periodic – increases serotonin’s benefits exponentially, so that in times of difficulty there is a well of resiliency to draw from.
Psychologists named the euphoria of generosity – the ‘helpers high’, which has been backed by neuroscience. Giving produces endorphins in the brain that makes us feel good, in the same area as when we get a reward or experience other pleasures.
Purpose & Meaning: Anyone experiencing severe trauma can have their inner foundation shaken, but even more so for those with damaged backgrounds. New painful events can re-traumatize them, increasing self-doubt & fear about their future in an unsafe world. We all try to make sense of bad things, but that’s not always possible. Even so, we need to have a purpose to our own lives, no matter the circumstances.
Finding hope can be hard in times of extreme stress, but hope is exactly what fuels resilience. Hope empowers & motivates people to believe in the possibility of a manageable, if not a brighter, future – seeing it as worth participating in. Acting-as-if can actually create the energy & drive needed to keep going, generating more hope in the process. Hope fuels our capacity to: 1. dream up goals
2. create specific strategies for accomplishing those goals
3. generate & sustain the momentum to carrying out plans
T.E.A. Those of us who have enough resilience can help (A) others in the aftermath of traumatic events (but not ‘rescue’). One person’s support can be crucial in developing another’s resilience. It can encourage them to build P-TG by helping to increase their optimism, positive emotions (E), & self-esteem. When they come to believe (T) in their ability to overcome difficulties & losses, they end up better adjusted
NEXT: Resilience – Thinking #1