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  • Writer's picturedrjennifer_tauks

Relationship Resiliency



The Oxford Language Dictionary defines relationship as, “the way in which two or more people are connected” and “the way in which two or more people or groups regard and behave towards each other.” Oxford also defines resilience as, “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties” and “the ability to spring back into shape.”


As a therapist, I am constantly studying the connection between relationships and people’s ability to remain resilient within their relationships when faced with challenging situations. How do people “bounce back” or “recover” from certain situations? What traits or characteristics do they possess that allow the emotional capacity to deal with adversity in their relationships and move forward with them? What piece of that connection affects our behavior and predicts the relationship's resiliency?


Relationships consume a significant portion of our life. They can range from acquaintances, romantic partners, school/work relationships, and differing degrees of friendships. On average, children, adolescents, and adults have relationships with teachers, caregivers, family members, colleagues, coworkers, spouses, partners, community members, and their own children. These relationships contain all types of emotions that trigger our ability to utilize our resilience.


Increasing our resiliencies in relationships takes time, intention, and work. It requires personal accountability, problem-solving techniques, expectation management, and tolerance. Here are some strategies to help with practicing resiliency in our relationships:

Children:

· Teach problem-solving strategies

· Identify emotions and behaviors

· Increase coping skills

· Promote tolerance for stress

· Increase perspective-taking in relationships

Adolescents:

· Understand compassion

· Work on positive self-esteem

· Awareness of self-respect in relationships

· Reciprocity in perspective-taking within relationships

Adults:

· Prioritize needs in relationships

· Be open to learning from experience

· Continue to connect to relationships we can trust

· Take responsibility for own actions/behaviors

· Be open to vulnerability


Conceptualizing resiliency as a form of empowerment helps to improve our lives and deepen our connections to others. In my work with clients, I often need to remind them that it is not just how we are connected to the people we have relationships with, but also our individual regard and behavior towards that relationship. The ability to become introspective and look inside ourselves allows a deeper understanding of our personal behaviors, thoughts, and actions. This in turn helps us get through difficult circumstances and improve the quality of our relationship with ourselves and others.


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