Building resilience through relationships

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

So, in my previous blog I explained the connection between disability and trauma, so do read that one so this one makes more sense! Trying not to bore our poor readers and keep them awake, we broke that blog up into several blogs.

In this blog I want to spend some time looking at what factors protect you from experiencing trauma and what goals you can work on, either on your own, with support from those around you, or with our support.

The key ways you can improve your resilience against trauma is through good relationships with our bodies, close relationships and our primary carers. There are many more ways we can build resilience, so watch our blogs for more info on this in the future.

Relationship with our bodies - Unfortunately, we know that society and culture makes it hard for us to have a good relationship with our bodies with the focus on perfect bodies, youth and beauty. The medical establishment also (unwittingly) encourages us to see our bodies as things to fix, to view them as parts, rather than a whole organism that is affected by mood, diet, sleep, relationships and wellbeing. Everyone, including non-disabled people are affected by these negative messages and it can result in low body confidence. If we can improve our relationship with our body, we have an internal support to aid resilience: rather than fighting our bodies they become our allies.

Our relationship with our parents or first carers - Impairment and being disabled evokes so many things for disabled and non-disabled people alike and this forms the basis of the messages we all got growing up about what it means if our bodies do not function or look perfect, if we are ill, or how being different is viewed and valued. Our first relationships are also instrumental in helping us build the skills and resilience we need to adapt to the ups and downs of life in adulthood: they teach us what to do when we are upset, overwhelmed or overexcited. Though it is not about blaming our parents – for most of us we feel they did a ‘good enough’ job – it is about recognising where we have come from so that we can choose to make different decisions for our lives and relationships. Our parents often form the blueprint of how we view intimate relationships.

Close relationships - There are many issues why isolation is common if you are disabled…access, transport and carer issues are the most practical ones preventing us from accessing society regularly. Stigma around being disabled can also make other people react strangely to us and make in-depth relationships difficult: people often don’t want to hear about the reality of our lives because of their own fears and fantasies about becoming disabled. These responses can impact on our confidence to go out there and find friendships and sexual partners. Obviously, shame and low confidence and our own views on disability will also impact on how we are in relationships.

Don’t despair if you are single though: an intimate relationship can come in many forms, a friend, a family member, a love relationship, a special teacher, but also a good therapist. 

So, inn essence, all of these relationships are about reciprocity. If you can form a deep, reciprocal relationship with yourself, your parents and others around you, relationships where you can truly be yourself and share almost everything, these relationships can support us and help us work through tough times.  They can prevent events from becoming stuck and becoming a trauma. We also gain a lot by supporting those around us as well.

Hopefully this blog is encouraging in that there are lots of ways you can improve your emotional wellbeing and resilience against trauma, for example by looking at how you care for your body through your food (what you put in is what you get out) and grooming, but also by exploring your relationships to ensure they are as supportive as they can be, relationships which make you feel better about yourself.

If you are in a particularly tough place it may seem impossible that things could get better, or that you could find yourself in a situation where you are surrounded with positive relationships.

Obviously, Spokz People would not exist if we didn’t feel that things could change or that we had some skills to help you on this journey. Our support can help you to spot healthier relationships when they happen and improve the relationships you already have, including those with your body.

We’ll write more about the impact of isolation in a future blog, so watch this space. In the meantime, if you would like support to improve resilience by improving your relationships, do contact Allie on allie@spokzpeople.org.uk or 07733681883.

And as always, do feel free to engage with us, agree or disagree with this blog, tell us what your fears and concerns are, but carry on the conversation!

Best wishes, Mel