SITE: RESILIENCE 101….
What we think – how we talk to ourselves – affects the quality of every part of our life. Research show that the #1 roadblock to resilience (R). is not genetics or past difficulties, but negative thinking (as adults). Our 5 senses always take in much more info that the brain can process easily or quickly. So to cope, it creates mental shortcuts (mostly unconscious), to simplify & make sense of it all, especially when under stress. Unfortunately this can backfire, often trapping us into making assumptions & jumping to conclusions.
When trying to figure out what’s went wrong, we wonder:
• Who caused the problem? (me / not me)
• How long will it last? (always / not always)
• How much of my life does it effect? (all / not all)
ACoAs usually answer these Qs based on childhood damage rather than current reality. Even for the slightest frustration or annoyance, like not being able to find something at home, much less the big hurts, we answer (from the WIC) : Who = me , How long = always , How much = all of it!
Note how they fit the ‘Pessimist’ column in ‘Thinking #2′
Instead, being able to handle stressors well is built on positive beliefs – about ourselves & the world. Facing difficulties & disappointments takes courage, sticking to goals, being creative, learning from them – for future reference – & not getting trapped in ‘victim mentality’. And it starts with our inner dialogue – how kindly, respectfully we talk to ourselves.
What are some of your negative labels that can be changed into legitimate positives?
EXP: In a desperate attempt to prevent feeling abandoned, many ACoAs will keep chasing the wrong kind of people (unavailable, needy, narcissistic….who can’t connect) & in wrong ways (pushy, people-pleasing, controlling….) . This leads to constant disappointment, making us label ourselves ‘stupid, undesirable, ugly, useless…..’
While our choice of relationships may need a radical shift, our drive to connect is actually very healthy. So we can legitimately say that, as chasers, we’re curious, persevering, determined, courageous.…. With this cognitive correction we can use those qualities to persevere in new, positive directions. Then we can chase & catch – the good things in life that fit our True Self!
Post-traumatic growth (P-TG)
Traditional psychology equates thriving with R., which is: “reaching the previous level of functioning before a trauma”. However, the recovery point for thriving goes above & beyond R., to finding benefits within each challenge.
Q: How is it that some people – when they fall down – can get up, dust themselves off & keep going, even improve, after very bad experiences?
ANS: They have helpful inner resources AND the right kind of external help.
We can find examples of P-TG in ancient spiritual traditions, literature, & philosophy. New studies of R. (‘benefit finding’) verify that after trauma – in spite of all their suffering – some people experience them as valuable life-changing events.
— rise to a new level of functioning, maybe shaken out of routine or limitation
— have a new understanding of the world, & an appreciation for being alive
— find unexpected possibilities open to them, & can tap into creativity
— develop greater inner strength than they thought possible
— have more emotional intimacy with loved ones & gain a deeper spirituality
— are less triggered & have faster recovery time after future stressors
These mentally resilient people look at any problem or difficulty, & ask, ‘What are some solutions? , What action is most useful? , What are my available choices?, What do I need to improve?…..’ Seeing painful events as a chance to problem-solve & learn something builds confidence. They also develop the habit of moving thru the pain instead of running from it, preventing bitterness & resentments.
It makes them winners, no matter how limited their real-life options may be, because they’re happier – which is better for them & everyone around them. Realistic optimists don’t do drama. Without being in denial about the level of difficulty they face, they experience every situation in its proper proportion. For winners there are no unbearable events. They just build their castles out of every stone life throws at them!
And they say YES to any & all good things that come their way.
NEXT: Resilience – Thinking #2