Thursday, May 24, 2007

Strength and Resilience

I just read an article that says—surprise, surprise!—that a sense of one’s own strength makes a difference in therapy and in life. That it is when we believe in our power to grow and to change that it happens. It was in the New York Times and is ostensibly about how we tell stories about our lives and that how we tell those stories matters. Underneath it all, however, the most important message I took away is that recognizing our strength and our ability to change matters.

Anyone reading my blog knows this is something I have always believed. I’ve said before that the ideal therapist is one who recognizes our fears and vulnerability and at the same time also recognizes the incredible strength and resilience it takes to survive abuse. Any successful treatment will make the client a partner in his or her recovery from the impact of that abuse and will encourage the client to see his or her own strengths and skills.

It is a dicey thing to balance letting go of the need to believe we can control the uncontrollable (something so many of us try to do) and at the same time begin to take control of the things we didn’t realize we had the power to handle.

It is a challenge to balance being willing to accept help that is offered and at the same time not forget that there is so much we can do ourselves.

In a sense, recovering from the impact of abuse is about letting go of the fantasy power and grasping our real power. It is about rewriting the messages from those who tried to make us believe we had no power or that we deserved what was happening to us and recognize that we no longer need to believe in the impossible because we actually can change what is real in our lives that isn’t working.

And all of that begins, I believe, with accepting responsibility to do whatever it takes to heal. It begins with accepting responsibility to feel what we feel but to think carefully about the things we actually say and do. It begins with deciding that we matter and consciously choosing to remind ourselves—every day if need be!—of all our strengths and capabilities if we start to forget. It is about taking responsibility for finding ways to be the kind of person we want to be and create the lives we want to have.

Nice to see an article about how acknowledging our strength makes a difference. It matters even more to know it in our own hearts.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),


keepers said...

Hi April optimist

you write so many truths in this blog we lost count and it isn't that long, but full of truths! ones we all need to realize and then hold on to, which you are good at reinforcing. thank you for reminding us of some things we may have forgotten.

hugs to you also!


April_optimist said...


You're very welcome. I believe to the bottom of my soul that changes happens and we grow most when we believe in ourselves and our strengths.

jumpinginpuddles said...

Just wondering if you agreed with this statement that our T said the other day about our marriage she said 'the stronger you get the more i have found the partners problems show up" she was talking about us of course but in her experience also

April_optimist said...

Jumping in Puddles,

See my latest post. I didn't think it would be enough, you see, to say "yes." I do think that partners can focus so long on us and our problems that they do not look at their own--until we don't need them to "fix" us or take care of us anymore. (Not that we necessarily ever did, but it is a common mindset for couples to be in when one of them has been abused.)