This is part four of a series of posts dedicated to breaking down components of resilience. The series is an elaboration on a post I made in 2015, continued now as part of the June 2016 Carnival of Aces on Resiliency. In part one of this series, I covered tenacity. In part [...]
Support networks are a crucial part of resilience, and may even perhaps be the most important factor. It's not hard to find evidence of the health impacts of isolation or the protective effects of having supportive community. Those with strong support networks are less likely to develop PTSD and among those who still do, good support is likely to significantly reduce symptom severity. In order to have a healthy support network, you need to be able to recognize what healthy relationships look like. If you can't recognize when a relationship is becoming unhealthy, you can't take steps to keep yourself safe. Discernment is the skill of perceiving, understanding, and exercising good judgment. A person with "discerning tastes" is someone who has strong preferences about aesthetic quality, like a gourmand. The psychological use of the term is much broader—it is more related to perception and decision-making in general.
Have you ever gone through a time where things just keep coming? Where you keep getting knocked down, over and over and over again, every time you try to stand back up and start over? That's me this past year. I don't really feel tenacious. I feel more like I'm under-leveled. And the only way to level up is just by grinding. Boring, frustrating grinding. Here's the thing that I think people are apt to misunderstand about tenacity: It's not about never falling, or about how long you stay on the ground after you fall. That doesn't matter. It's just about getting back up, and trying again.
How do you deal with burnout? - Do you personally have a way that works best for you? Have you tried anything that hasn't worked out well for you? - Do you think that the way that you typically handle burnout is healthy, or do you feel that you tend to resort to unhealthy coping methods? - Does burnout, for you, feel triggering in some way? If so, is it an overt (or obvious) trigger, or a covert trigger (one that you do not or had not realized is a trigger)? - Are there triggers that come up for you when you're feeling burned out that aren't directly related, but are heavily influenced by being burned out in some way? - What is it that you think makes the ace community more prone to experiencing burnout?
Not every trauma survivour has had a life before the trauma/s. It can have happened/started in early childhood and/or there may be no memories of a life before or independent of trauma. Even for people where there was a “before”, recovery is not about going back to that state, especially not if the “before” was a long time ago, in childhood or in a completely different stage of life. We know it’s hard. Having to figure out everything new, what is a healthy coping mechanism and what’s not doing me good, how does a healthy relationship work/feel, what are my likes, interests, needs, skills, beliefs. What is my personality, who am I and what is really me and what is “just” due to trauma. This is hard to figure out and painful to even have to adress in the first place. But it’s possible.
People seem to think that therapeutic art is always about expressing your pain and negative feelings. While drawing out images of exactly what the pain and terror of abuse feels like can be cathartic and hugely helpful, art that is about joy, comfort, beauty and color can act as a sort of refuge.
Resilience is the ability to recover from really tough, painful situations. But there's so much more depth to it than that. There are several components that are thought to contribute to overall resilience. Each of these is a skill that can be developed, or a practice that's built up based on skills that can be developed. This isn't the kind of thing that you either have or you don't. Everyone has some degree of resilience. And it's something you can always improve.