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RESILIENCE (R.) is self-righting – it’s the ability to handle losses, set-backs or disappointments & then to recover afterward – with grace & dignity.
Review: As kids, ACoAs had to deal with constant trauma, tragedy & loss, which forced us to develop a variety of coping skills (defenses) that turned into unhealthy life-patterns as adults. They hardened into a block of grey, dirty ice – so thoroughly – that we’ve lost the connection to our funny, soft, easy, free child-self. Now we’re run mostly by our damaged Adapted child (WIC) who still listens to the PP-Introject, & sometimes the PP takes over & we sound just like ‘them’. UGH!
One such unhealthy pattern is rigidity – the inability to ‘go with the flow’, handle change – especially unexpected ones, see thing in shades of grey – only as B & W, accept opposing viewpoints, see others as separate being ….
Rigidity (mental & emotional stiffness) is a product of accumulated terror, & it’s team-mate is resentment (fear + anger) toward anyone who doesn’t provide our needs or wants.
It’s an unconscious determination to fight a losing battle with reality (denial), because to admit what we know about our alcoholic, narcissistic, co-dependent family feel too dangerous to our false sense of self-protection. Rigidity is a defense against feeling vulnerable – the Inner Child’s desperate way to hide its True Self from the onslaught of all the PMES abuses we suffered growing up.
Rigidity is the enemy of Resilience (R.), and resilience is imperative for going beyond survival – to living well. Resilience is about how we function every day – healthy ways of interacting & negotiating with ourselves, others & our world. More than 50 years of research tells us that R. include having optimism / hope, managing strong or difficult emotions, having a deep sense of safety, & needing a strong social support system. Everyone, regardless of age or circumstance, has the capacity for resilience, which is built into the human spirit, & so can be tapped into.
Studies of at-risk youths, in different parts of the world, repeatedly identified 3 major protective environmental factors that can buffer or insulate children from the impact of adversity (poverty, family chaos, dangerous locations, illness or disabilities ….), & help to nourish personal strength.
These must have been provided during their early years from either family, school, community, or peer groups:
1. Caring relationships (at least one)
2. High expectations (for success)
3. Opportunities to Participate & Contribute
** To effectively form a basis for resilience, these 3 need to be combined – & can come from any one of the 4 environments ⬆️. (Truebridge & Benard)
ACoAs: These 3 protective benefits – from external sources – were hardly available to us growing up. While we are indeed survivors – intelligent, caring, clever, generous, resourceful….. most of our best qualities are used to benefit others (the addicts, the immature) BUT rarely for ourselves!
✳ Along with food and shelter, children need love & trust, hope & autonomy. Along with a safe physical haven, they need safe relationships that provide friendships & commitment. They need loving support, self-confidence, & faith in themselves & their world – all of which builds resilience (R.).
NOW – as adults, we need to wrap ourselves in the power of Resilience, by uncovering & strengthening the core characteristics we were born with, that when combined, make up our True Self . It’s the stable foundation we’ve always longed for & should have gotten as kids, based on knowing who we are, so life’s troubles don’t have to keep knocking us out for as long – like before.
That means that we need to turn those same gifts toward ourselves, to heal the wounded child part.
*️⃣Good news: R. is a process – not an inborn character trait. It’s based on a concrete set of skills & behaviors, & so can be leaned.
NOTE for ACoAs: Identifying & developing our resilience-qualities is what Recovery is all about! To do that we have to S & I – slowly outgrowing our addictive attachment to our unhealthy upbringing.
NEXT: ACoAs & Resilience #2