Resilience From the Past

Resilience is armor against the changes in life that can wear us out.   Life is never ending change so we need ever lasting qualities that help us continually adapt and progress rather than to be beaten down.  There are 13 factors of resilience. See links to the first five factors at the link for “Factors of Resilience” (1) below.


Learn why this is one of my tools of resilience.

The sixth factor of resilience is “the availability of a close, caring consistent, responsive and loving parent (caretaker) is most conducive to an individual’s/child’s sense of trust and self-esteem”.

This factor left me pondering and figuring out what to write because it is a factor that for most of us is past.  When I present a problem I always like to present a solution, too.  So what can we do about our parents then, now?

I’m lucky to have a great mom headed for her 94th birthday, but for most of us, even if our parents are alive, chances are we are no longer living with them.  However living or not, let’s accept that our parents or caretakers still have an impact on our resilience.

If they had a good impact great, if not, join the club.  It is estimated that at least fifteen million adults in the United States were raised with unhealthy parental control.

Toxic parents can leave us with problems of perfectionism, anxiety, lack of confidence, emotional emptiness, or eating disorders and a lose of our sense of self.  All of these traits can eat away at our resilience.

Poor parental experiences can leave us living a life too geared to pleasing others.  We may be able to give other people the benefit of the doubt but second-guess ourselves.

We may not even be aware that our parents or some experiences with our parents were (or can be) toxic.  They love us, and we love them despite toxicity.

A key to gaining resilience is to realize that the toxicity may have existed.  There are many forms of toxicity, from over control to no control at all.   Toxicity can come from alcoholics to inadequate parents to verbal abusers.

There are a few steps we can take.

Sheryl Sandberg and a psychologist, Adam Grant, wrote a book based on Sandberg’s experience after her husband unexpectedly passed when the children were aged seven and ten.   She decided to learn everything she could about how kids persevere through adversity.

One step she found is to resolve the past. Holding grudges are not healthy. Compassion and forgiveness of those who abused and ourselves is an important step.

Another important to add resilience is to know that we cannot change others.  Here is what Sandberg suggests to do instead.

Know you were loved and are part of a greater caring community.

Know that you matter.  Sociologists define “mattering” as the belief that other people notice you, care about you and rely on you.  You do make a difference to others.

Get a companion.   Maintain a warm and strong relationship with someone who you can communicate openly with.

Give someone your undivided attention. Get out of yourself.

Reinforcing positive memories from the past can build resilience.

Sandberg, to keep her husband’s memory alive, captured stories about him on video.  She videoed her children sharing their own memories of their father. She talked openly about memories, good and bad.


Sandberg’s book is at

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Another book on this subject is ”If You Had Controlling Parents” by family therapist, Dan Neuharth, Ph.D.

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A third is “Toxic Parents” by Dr. Suzan Forward

Whether your memories of the past are mostly good or bad, you can reinforce the good ones.

My father passed about 40 years ago and all the memories I retain are good but I use my dad’s shaving brush every morning… an “Ever Ready Guaranteed” brand shown above to reinforce these recollections.

There is nothing spectacular about these ideas he gave but the powerful memory of being loved and remembering his touches of wisdom provide  positive associations to start to the day.

One way to being smarter… happier… healthier is to start every day with something that creates a happy association for you.  Warm and fussy is good!  Such associations are comforting and they will enhance your resilience whenever you face challenges.  That’s darned important in these times in times of social and economic turmoil.  So much change can feel like threats.

Resilience is fundamental to well being and happy associations that create positive attitudes can help us move forward despite the obstacles our imbalanced society creates.


(1) Link to Resilience parts one to five

Another key to resilience is a steady income. See how to build extra dollars of inflow below.

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