Developing RESILIENCE – social


PREVIOUS: Resilience – HUMOR

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,, 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


Developing RESILIENCE – humor

PREVIOUS: Resilience – Psychological #1

SITEs:   Creating Resilience thru Humor

• Building Resiliency in Children Through Humor



Being able to laugh is a very important ability, which represents intelligence, imagination & emotional release – all part of resilience. It’s so important that Alice Miller (“For Your Own Good” & other books) observed that murderers & other psychopaths do not have the capacity for humor – needed as a release valve for anger & frustration – so they take their rage out on others instead.

People under duress who can use humor to cope are much more resilient. Norman Cousins used the Marx Bothers movies to help heal his illness (along with Vit C). With humor, people suffering bereavement, major illness, war…. experience less hopelessness & depression. Those in a high-stress careers (like cops) will often make jokes in the face of tragedy & suffering, & the USO sends comics to the front lines…..

Recent research says that humor requires a tremendous amount of brain power. “Getting a joke would seem, on the surface, to be an intuitive but trivial process. Instead, brain imaging shows there’s more going on than we might think.” (Andrea Samson – Switzerland). .(More info)

But unrecovered ACoAs 
can have a hard time finding anything funny. After all, growing up in a very painful environment left little room for humor – unless it came in the form of cruel teasing or clever sarcasm, which was just passive-aggressive anger! There was nothing funny about the yelling, fighting, isolation, drunkenness, beatings, put-downs, mental illness…..

That’s why, as adults, we need to add some humor into every day – such as being around people who are funny in good ways, finding the irony in ever-day occurrences, watching stand-ups, funny movies, comedies….

EXP: Comics like Robin Williams, Gabe Iglesias or Jeff Dunham — but not like Sam Kinison, Andrew Dice Clay, Andy Kaufman.... Apologies to anyone who likes any of the last 3. There may be an exception in Lewis Black – his anger makes sense about a lot of things, but especially if you’re into liberal political commentary. Then there’s always Bill Engvall, or Ron White (the clever, sexy, overweight, blatant alcoholic 😀 – if you like that type 🤠)….. And YES, there are lots of great women too, as in the “10 Greatest Female Comedians“.

Keep in mind that we are now the parent to our Inner Child/ Children – who still take in everything around them – little pitchers have big ears – so it’s up to us to protect them from PPT (people, places & things) that are too harsh or gross – given our WIC’s high anxiety level & many terrible experiences, even if our adult-self doesn’t mind.

Some people like ‘gallows humor’, because laughing at someone else’ misfortune makes them feel superior. Ugh! We got enough of that as kids !!

😨 And then there are the self-deprecating ACoAs who continually make fun of themselves AND demand that others be amused by it – as if it’s so clever.
EXP: Sheara once has a sponsee who did that, & when Sheara didn’t laugh, the girl said “What the matter, don’t you have a sense of humor?” The response was: “I don’t find self-hate funny!” 😂

Interesting: A study was done in the US with 201 adult twin pairs, to see if there might be a connection between ‘mental toughness’ & humor styles.
• Mental toughness = measure of a person’s resilience & confidence, that may predict success in sports, education & the workplace. (Characteristics) Includes: Emotional Control, Control over Life, Confidence in Abilities, Interpersonal Confidence…… (Qualities to develop it)
• Humor styles = 2 Positives (affiliative, self-enhancing) & 2 negatives (aggressive, self-defeating) (Descriptions)

Participants took assessment test on both factors. RESULTS: There was a Positive correlation between the positive humor styles and all but one of the mental toughness factors. Conversely, no correlations were found between all mental toughness factors & negative humor styles.
SO – the healthier a person’s mind, the less interest there is in bad humor!

When listening to humor or anything else – consider your emotions & physical sensations! Does it feel uplifting, are you happier, relaxed, relieved…. or uncomfortable, angry, grossed out…. You do not have to hate-listen/ hate-watch/ hate-read – anything, or stay anywhere that hurts.
Al-Anon teaches: “Go where it’s warm”!

NEXT: Resilience – Social

Developing RESILIENCE – individual (Part 2)

PREVIOUS: Resilience – individual #1

SITE: 25 Resiliency Affirmations   // IMAGE above

3. FAILING & Resilience
The secret of very successful people is their ability to handle situations that don’t turn out well – all along the way. Because they’re willing to risk trying, trying, trying – to achieve their goals, they rack up a lot of rejection from others & /or failures from their own efforts. (Thomas Edison, J.K. Rowling, Col. Sanders…..).
A key factor in winning is that they put all their efforts into something they deeply believed in AND that was actually achievable. 

Resilient people (Rs) use each opportunity to figure out what went wrong (their procedures, methods or skill level, their presentation….), & make corrections. OR they recognize their main task is to find the right person or venue for their product or skill.
They do not waste time second-guessing themselves, beating themselves up, wondering what’s wrong with them, trying to figure out what everyone else may want, or thinking the universe is against them!
The combination of objective learning & perseverance keeps them on track – & eventually they reach their goal. The bigger the risk, the bigger the payoff.

IMP: As recovering ACoAs, we can make that shift in perspective – to accept  the need for process, which includes not knowing everything, sometimes making mistakes, cutting big jobs into bite size pieces, & never giving up.  This is so hard, because we did all that with our family – & never got anywhere. But we didn’t actually fail, because our goal was impossible to achieve.
⭐︎ Perseverance is only useful if we push for what’s realistic. Part 3 of the Serenity Prayer says: “…and the wisdom to know the difference” – but we keep getting it backwards!

For perspective, try documenting (Excel?), every time you’ve been turned down, made a mess or missed the mark – when working on a project or toward a goal.
⭐︎ Then put it side by side with every success, every compliment, every paycheck! You may find your thinking shifts. Whatever you lack may not be as big or bad as you thought. You may have many more up-sides. Take that in!

4. PHYSICAL HEALTH & Resilience
We’ve all heard “Healthy body, healthy mind”. Body gurus insist that ‘to make healthy decisions in life, you have to lead a healthy (physical) life.’
Research suggests that as little as 10 minutes of exercise increases blood flow to the brain & spending 20 minutes outside in nice weather leads to “more expansive, open thinking – a pro-resiliency mindset”.
Other studies say that time in nature helps combat anxiety & depression, improves immunity, & lowers inflammatory chemicals in the body. These are all true.

And it’s also true that long-term depression, environmental illness, severe dyslexia…. messes with our thinking & motivation, & auto-immune diseases require constant vigilance. But in many cases the right meds, location change, certain foods & supplements, & psychotherapy improve well-being.

Yes, one component of “Inner Resources” is physical stamina. However, basing mental health (& resilience) primarily on physical functioning implies that if we don’t have a sound body, our mind will inevitably be – what??? confused, fuzzy, depressed, unfocused, a ‘mess’, weak…. ??? NO!
There are people everywhere with severe disabilities whose minds & hearts are not only resilient – but soar!

• The obvious example is Stephen Hawking. He was diagnosed at 21 & was expected to die in 2 years, yet lived until age 76, continuing his work in spite of an extreme disability
• Consider how much Frida Kahlo accomplished, in spite of being in constant physical agony
• And what about the elderly lady who became permanently bedridden, & then spent all her time praying for other people, from requests sent to her from all over the US?

• There are children in cancer wards (often terminal) with better attitudes than most healthy people. There are adults who have survived cancer treatment but have residual side-effect that debilitate, yet have a positive mental perspective
• And we’ve read about blind people who water-ski, bike ride, take pictures…. or have world-wide musical careers; people with ALS, Down Syn…. or deaf – with successful acting careers….

There & many more are all people whose mental state in/was grounded solidly in a clear sense of themselves & in positive beliefs. Their lives are/were not limited by their physical limitations.

NEXT: Resilience & Humor

Developing RESILIENCE – individual (Part 1)

PREVIOUS: Resilience – Personality

SITE: 12 Easy Ways to Build Your Resilience at Work

Review: Resilience is all about being able to get thru life’s difficulties & then bounce back –  either to a previous level – if that was acceptable, or to an internal & external upgrade, if needed (Post-Traumatic Growth).

As listed in ‘Resiliency – Traits‘, healthy internal resources are a foundation for thriving – in general,  but especially needed in times of stress – to solve problems or just stay afloat. They include:
Creativity, confidence, courage, gratitude, humor, kindness, optimism, persistence & spirituality.

As mentioned in “Resilience – Personality“, this trait is crucial to successfully managing all sorts of problems. It means that the person is their own motivator, instead of being pushed around by other people’s needs & wishes. It’s the opposite of co-dependence.

This character trait can only be applied to adults. By definition, children are directed by others, but healthy parents teach them to develop this quality, so they can eventually function both autonomously & inter-dependently with others. This eliminates the need for the compulsive, all-encompassing “Harm-Avoidance” of most ACoAs.
Naturally, appropriate harm-avoidance is part of being resilient – the wisdom of staying away from PPT that drain energy & have little or nothing to give back. At the same time resilient people (Rs) do not assume everyone & everything are potentially ‘dangerous’ to their well-being. They trust their own observations & intuition to distinguish safe from unsafe.

In order to have self- directedness, Rs would have had to grow up with a consistent sense of efficacy – the experience of having an effect on their environment, starting with their parents.  As children —
— this does not mean they had to be in charge of the drunk, the depressed, the siblings, the chores…..
— it also does not mean being left to their own devices to figure things out without guidance or supervision

As children —
• It does mean that THEIR needs & dreams were heard & provided, whenever possible – instead of being forced to ignore & suppress them
It means they were listened to when they were unhappy (comforted & validated), had a legitimate need ($ for school), a problem to be solved (a school bully), a passionate desire (for karate or piano lessons)…. without being ignored, shamed or punished

• It does mean they were allowed to gradually figure out their own natural way of thinking, feeling & doing things – with age-appropriate boundaries, but without being forced into a mold that didn’t fit
• It does mean that the adults paid attention & responded well when the child objected to how they were being treated, or pushed in a direction that ‘isn’t me’
• It does mean the children were supported in exploring their own interests, as well as encouraged to expand their talents & dreams a little beyond their comfort

Adults with some or all of these benefits become their own motivator, instead of having to rely on everyone else to tell them what to be & do – ‘a strong sense of ownership over their fate’. Self-directedness means having a gut-knowledge that they’re in charge of their choices & actions, empowered to be the best they can in the circumstances, & so never need to see themselves as victims

Self-Regulation (re. Actions)
Violation of our deepest values causes guilt, shame & anxiety. An aspect of this necessary ‘Internal Locus of Control’ is a person’s ability to act in their own long-term best interest, consistent with their principles & values. This is especially true when trying to master a skill – hopefully one that interests them a great deal – which would require being goal-oriented, responsible, reliable & resourceful.

Self-focused Rs are able to wholeheartedly give their attention to small tasks or big goals, without worrying about what others think or want – while taking into account possible consequences to self & others.
They can accept responsibility for problems that crop up, without self-judgement or blaming others, so they can learn from any mistakes, & then continue toward their end-point. It’s being in the driver’s seat of one’s life, with strong motivation, concentration & effort – in both planning & execution. Along the way they can evaluate their progress or achievement realistically, without perfectionism or harsh judgment (S-H).

NEXT: Resilience – individual #2

Developing RESILIENCE – personality

PREVIOUS: Resilience #2

SITE: “7 of Everything – Qualities of the Soul” 




ACoAs: As you read through all these lists of Resiliency characteristics & the background needed to provide them in the first place,
PLEASE remember to not use them to be discouraged or cause S-H.
Instead let them be a road map to guide your growth.

The Recovery
process gives us the opportunity to develop any that we’re weak in. We have survived, now let’s thrive!

A recent study with Australian family doctors examined the relationship between resilience (in R. & Traits) & personality, to identify the main qualities that promote or impair R. in relation to 7 characteristics.

Researchers started from the idea that R. is a process influenced by each person’s combination of personal traits & their environment.
They found that Resilience is —
⭐︎ strongly associated with high level Self-directedness & low level Harm Avoidance
— moderately
correlated with high Persistence & high Cooperativeness
not significantly correlated with Novelty Seeking, Reward Dependence & Self-Transcendence

IMP: The 2 most prominent beneficial traits are the complete opposite of how most ACoAs live. We function from:
High Harm-avoidance, spending much of our time & effort trying to avoid anything that could potentially cause an abandonment in any one of PMES ways – which includes suppressing our own emotions & needs
Low Self-directedness, which fuels our co-dependence, is about not being our own internal motivator. (More later).

PS: A recent study with a sample of Korean university students (Kim, Lee & Lee, 2013) examined the connection between Personality traits & Resilience. The most striking similarity to the Australian findings is that in both R. was strongly related to high Self-directedness, high Persistence, and low Harm Avoidance…..
But in looking at males vs females differences, one surprise was that the Asian sample of men was higher in Cooperativeness than the women, whereas in the West, it was the reverse. (CHART)


Philosophical Questions
Active vs reactive : Do we primarily act through individual initiative OR because of outside stimuli ?
Freedom vs Determinism :  Do we have control over our own behavior OR  is it caused by forces beyond our control?

Heredity vs environment : Is Personality determined largely by genetics & biology, OR by environment & experiences?
Optimism versus pessimism : Are we an integral part of changing our own personalities, OR is everything predetermined?
Uniqueness vs universality : Is each human an individual OR are we all similarity in nature ?
★ Ultimately we’re a combination of factors – nurture & nature.(Wikipedia)

DIMENSIONS of Personality  (Human Science)
Energy = the strength or intensity of personality which is very tangible to observation & experience, but extremely hard to define &
measure (Napoleon vs. Gandhi)
Direction = whether the person’s attitudes, motives & actions positively or negatively impact the welfare of others & society (Holmes vs. Moriarty)

Strength = difference in the size & intensity of personality, separate from a person’s vital or mental energy, as shown by an ability to influence people & change their environment (Churchill, Hitler….)
Values = what is most important or valuable to a person. If Direction is a horizontal measure of good vs. bad, then Values are a vertical measure of higher vs. lower. (Selfless vs selfish)

Consciousness = development & strength of self-awareness:
• Physical = re. the body – fixed physical & material needs, & deals only with the here & now
• Vital = re. the centers of energy – emotions, sensations, desires & urges
• Mental = re. ideas, ideals, plans & initiative – the capacity to think, analyze, understand & organize

Depth = Personality considered as onion layers, from surface behavior to inner depths, & noting how much the deeper layers are developed
• Behavior – capacity for directed activities, based on conscious understanding & intensity
• Character – fixed qualities reflecting values that are fully organized, internalized &       subconscious
• Individuality – core uniqueness, independent of social conditioning, personal experience or character
• Manners – superficial, external forms of formalized responses, a subset of social or interpersonal skills
• Personality – capacity for expansive or creative initiative in spite of any limitations of character, society or personal experience

NEXT: Resilience #4


Contact Donna:




So far, there are close to 100 topics, & almost 900 posts.

To make finding a subject a little easier, I’ve listed them all alphabetically with year & month – in a chart in TOPICS, found at the top of the Home page.
Once you’ve found the topic you’re interested in, go back to the MENU, click on the appropriate year & scroll to the month.


2. New INVENTORY Form (by DMT)
This is part of the post “What to do when Confused – #5” , July 2016
Venn Diagram chart
to get an overview of where you stand on any aspect of your life right now
You can make the chart into a collage, use the computer or just free-hand it on a large sheet of paper

The biggest circle (Spirituality) is the background to our whole life.

EACH person’s Diagram will look different.
If you’re ambitious or curious, you can make one for where you were 10 or 20 yrs ago, as a comparison.

• Think about all the areas of your life that will go on the chart, & decide their relative importance to you at present. Change or add any not listed.
Draw / cut the size circle for each topic as it relates to their current importance

• Play with the positions of circles…. change them around until the chart feels right. Place them close to, overlapping or far away from each other, depending on how they connect in real life

• Label circles, & draw lines to form pie wedges in each one.
— You decide how many lines (slices) based on how many problems & victories for each – you’ll probably have to guess-timate

: each slice represents an issue related to the circle’s topic
EXP: re. $$$ – keeping track of spending, get an IRA, have separate accounts, update checkbook, curb compulsive spending, pay old debts……

a. Filled in slices are any aspect of that topic you’re confident you have a good handle on (never perfectly)
No longer use drugs & alcohol

b. Zig-zag (or cross hatch) slices are aspects you’re still working on but making progress. The degree of progress in one may be different than in another slice. Make zig-zag density accordingly
EXP: Get to places on time more often

AND THEN: Most likely there will always be one or more empty slices – representing:
c. Grey – things about a topic you know need correcting / to change, but are not ready or willing to tackle

d. Blank – problems & challenges about each topic you simply don’t know you need to work on – yet

Happy hunting! (for 💛 self-awareness & 💚 healing)

Developing RESILIENCE – traits


PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Resilience #2

SITE: Resilience in mental health
(psychology + neuro-biology)

QUOTE: “Strong people alone know how to organize their suffering so as to bear only the most necessary pain.”
˜ Emil Dorian, Romanian poet & physician


Internal QUALITIES that BUILD Resilience
1. Competence = skilled at practical & creative activities
2. Creativity = expresses self thru artistic activities, by imagination & creative thinking or other processes (new theories, scientific studies….)

3. Flexibility = can adjust to change, bend when necessary, & positively cope with situations
4. Humor = good sense of humor, can still laugh in difficult situations
5. Independence = can distance oneself from unhealthy people & situations. Has autonomy, able to get one’s own way when appropriate

6. Inner directedness = (locus of control) basing choices & decisions from a personal evaluation – appropriate for oneself & the circumstances
7. Life skills = includes making good decisions, being assertive, having good impulse control
8. Love of learning = shows capacity for & interest in gathering info

9. Perceptiveness = has insight into & understanding of people & situations
10. Perseverance = keeps on in spite of difficulties, doesn’t give up
11. Positive view of personal future = is realistically optimistic, expects to achieve goal & dreams

12. Relationships = is sociable, able to form positive relationships & be a good friend
13. Self-motivation = actions come from internal initiative & positive self-motivation
14. Self-worth = has self-esteem & self-confidence

15. Service = helps others, but does not rescue
16. Spirituality = has personal faith in something greater than oneself
SOURCEs: Resiliency Workbook… & Resiliency in Action ~ Nan Henderson

When things are tough, we have 3 options:
1. We can ignore trouble & hope it goes away – by sticking our head in the sand, but with our butt exposed. Anyone who does that is vulnerable to being kicked from behind – when they least expect it! -OR-
2. We can face it head on & find a constructive way to deal with the situation – if at all possible. If something doesn’t work, we improve our strategy, & keep trying -OR-
3. When faced with impossible situations (getting an addict or co-dep into recovery, healing a terminal illness, getting our parent’s love & approval…. ), the only option left is to let go, turn it over to a Higher Power, & focus on improving our own life.

For resilience to flourish, there has to be a balance of positive & negative experiences in our daily life. Research suggests that we regularly need at least a 3-to-1 ratio of ➕ to ➖ experiences – to deal with life’s ‘crap’, but especially to be optimally productive & enjoy. Our personal R-ratio identifies how well we can bounce back from disappointments,  injury or failure. (from: “POSITIVITY“)

This means that: for every situation that causes us aggravating or heart-hurtful emotions, we need 3 or more heartfelt positive events that are encouraging & feel good. So – if you experience 5 painful things today, you’ll need 15 healing onesto counter them! Less than that – for too long – makes for misery. Prolonged stress or trauma has many negative effects, including depression, PTSD, medical illness & substance abuse.

Built-in survival mechanisms in the brain make it naturally wired to pay more attention to negative events than positive ones. For ACoAs who’ve lived mostly with bad ones – we need to up the ante – consistently adding many more positives to our life. A key to building R. comes from noticing, valuing & accepting good things whenever & wherever they occur. (balance CHARTS ↗)

Positive stokes can be big or little
• They can come from a hug, cuddling with kids, animals, & maybe a mate? 😍
• From a fun interaction with a friend, a smile or generous word from a stranger, being in a 12-Step meeting, or watching a TED talk
• An unexpected smile or gift, someone helping you carry groceries, or helping with the dishes, reading a great book or having a small dinner party…..
• It can also include someone listening to your troubles with empathy & understanding.

⛩ It’s anything you don’t have to earn or pay for, anything that warms you inside – even a little – or gives you a lift!

SITE: ‘Daily Good News that Inspires’ – many links

NEXT: Resilience #3