Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Relationships Foster Resilience
We hear and see it all the time in ACA/ACOA meetings and literature: "The first step is coming out of isolation". This sentiment is now being echoed by those studying overcoming adversity and increasing "resilience".
A recent article from psychologytoday.com suggests that regardless of your past or your genetic ability to handle stress, anyone can cultivate resilience. Psychiatrist Steven Wolin, M.D., defines resilience as "the capacity to rise above adversity". His findings are based on 20 years of his own research on adult children of alcoholics. Most of them, he has found, do not repeat their parents' drinking patterns.
Those who overcame adversity yet lacked strong family support systems growing up, sought and received help from others—a teacher, a neighbor, the parents of peers or, eventually, a spouse. They were not afraid to talk about the hard times they were having to someone who cared for their well-being.
Resilient children often hang out with families of untroubled peers. As adults, the resilient children of alcoholics marry into stable, loving families with whom they spend a great deal of time.
Psychologist Edith Grotberg, Ph.D., urges people to propagate their own resilience by thinking along three lines:
1. I Have: strong relationships, structure, rules at home, role models; these are external supports that are provided
2. I Am: a person who has hope and faith, cares about others, is proud of myself; these are inner strengths that can be developed
3. I Can: communicate, solve problems, gauge the temperament of others, seek good relationships—all interpersonal and problem-solving skills that are acquired.
It's often been said that the path to healing and maintaining recovery involves being around healing, balanced people; a safe group, family, friend, recovery org., therapist, church group, etc. The biggest challenge to improving resilience may be to overcome the long standing isolation that once provided protection from trauma and dysfunction.
Check out the Orange County ACA website at: Orange County Adult Children