Couples who are faced with the challenges that TBI brings respond in different ways. Some feel victimized and fall into depression and hopelessness, while others keep their heads high and hearts open and grow from their experience. They have learned from past experiences that hidden blessings exist in difficult and unexpected events.
What determines how you respond is based on how your brain handles stress. This is called resilience.
Resilience is the ability to recover from adversity, using the event as an opportunity for growth, and not return to the status quo.
Resiliency is not necessarily something you are born with. It is a skill that can be learned.
Individuals and couples who have not learned the skills have a tendency to feel victimized by what happened to them. They blame themselves or others and anything else they can focus on. They resist moving forward and stay mired in the negative thought cycle of blame and “Why me?” Any and all attempts to follow guidelines to move forward are resisted and blocked. They lack motivation and a clear direction and purpose.
Individuals who have learned the skills do not feel victimized, and they see what happened as an opportunity for growth. They are able to stay with the uncomfortable feelings and the tension of the unknown. They feel a sense of strength inside by being able to remain with their vulnerability. They have grown to appreciate their relationship more. They have learned that this experience leads them toward a transformation in themselves and their relationship.
The good news is that if you happen to lean toward feeling victimized, you can learn how to develop resiliency by cultivating thoughts, behaviors, and actions to support you in recovering from a traumatic and stressful event. You can learn to stay with and push past the uncomfortable feelings until you realize and experience the opportunity for growth that is in front of you.
To develop and strengthen resiliency, follow these guidelines:
- Focus your attention. Identify what you can control and focus on that.
- Stay connected. Reach out to family and friends. Engage in support groups or reach out to help others.
- Identify a goal. Take one step every day toward a single task.
- Know that change is inevitable. Accept this fact and support yourself in focusing on what you can change.
- Identify your North Star. Focus on the kind of relationship you want, how you want to be, and what you want to experience.
- Manage your emotions. Learn mindfulness exercises or yoga.
- Express appreciation. Tell your partner one thing you appreciate about them every day and vice versa.
- Practice self-care. Taking care of yourself supports you in developing resilience.
After a TBI, people are able to come through stronger than ever before and with a clearer sense of purpose, meaning, and direction in their lives. Couples learn how to communicate and connect more deeply and are clear about priorities for their lives and their relationship.
To your growth and connection,