Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Most of us spend much of our lives at work. If our lives are to be enjoyable, we should be able to connect and communicate in a positive way with the people that we spend so much of our time with. They should be part of a network of people that we can count on when things are difficult. They should be a source of support, not of adversity. Unfortunately, for many of us the face of adversity may be that of our supervisor or a co-worker. A recent survey by the American Psychological Association Center for Organizational Excellence found that one-third of American workers experience chronic work stress, with low salaries, lack of opportunity for advancement, and heavy workloads topping the list. The good news is, as Dr. David Ballard, head of the APA Center for Organizational Excellence, points out, “When employers acknowledge that employees have responsibilities and lives outside of work, the employer can take steps to promote a good work-life fit and help individuals better manage these multiple demands. Forward-thinking organizations are reevaluating work practices, providing employees with resources that support well-being and performance and applying new technology that helps shift work from somewhere we go from 9 to 5 to something we do that is meaningful and creates value.” The skills and attitudes of resilience can help employers and employees make this shift. Psychologically healthy organizations encourage employees to be involved and to grow and develop. Some of the growth that needs to be encouraged is the ability of employees to adapt to changes in the organization. Change is a reality for most organizations. Adapting to the reality requires that both employees and organizations be flexible and make a joint effort to problem solve. Effective communication is critical. Individuals and organizations need to learn to try in a different way to solve problems, not just try harder in the same way. Such rigidity creates, at best, frustration and at worst, failure. Adapting to the work environments of the 21st Century requires that we accept change as a given. Permanence is not to be expected. Most things are temporary. But the changes that do occur often will not have a pervasive impact on our lives or our organization. Good or bad, they will not change everything. The impact will usually be specific. Blaming ourselves or others for the problems that we or the organization is confronting is not going to help. The individual employee needs to be accountable for his actions, as do the supervisors and administrators of the organization. Engaging in the blame game is a waste of time. Back-biting or gossiping certainly does not make for a better work environment. When we can connect with our co-workers in a positive way, we can be more effective communicators, and the work environment can often be less stressful. Again, this requires flexibility on our part and an optimistic attitude. Again, this involves accepting that most things are temporary, events in our lives, either positive or negative, are seldom pervasive in their impact and engaging in the blame game is not going to help. In the next post, I will discuss how some of the other skills and attitudes of resilience can be applied at work. Ron Breazeale

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Conflict between Cynicism and Hope

Those of you who have read my first novel, Reaching Home, remember that I often introduce the chapters in the novel with a quote. Some are humorous. Some are quite serious. Hopefully, they add to the reader’s appreciation of the story. One of my favorites from Reaching Home was a quote from Mark Twain: “A discriminating irreverence is the creator and protector of human liberty.” My second effort, First Night, which should be published in the late fall / early winter of this year will follow some of the original characters from Reaching Home through their struggles with the conflict within our society and within each one of us between hope and cynicism. Cynicism can certainly drown hope if we do not make an active effort to nurture hope. Here are the quotes that I am using to introduce some of the chapters in First Night: Will Herberg, Cynicism: “Idealism gone sour.” Harry Ruby (one which I really don’t agree with): Cynicism: “A euphemism for realism.” H.L. Mencken (this is one I really love): Cynic: “A man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for the coffin.” George Herbert: Hope: “The poor man’s bread.” And one from Shakespeare, “Hope: Eating the air on promise of supply.” The conflict between hope and cynicism is one each of us must face every day. I’ll keep you posted as I work with the editor putting the final manuscript together. Hopefully, First Night it will be out by the first night of the New Year. by Ron Breazeale

Cynicism and Hope

In the last blog, I talked about the writing process as being a way of dealing with adversity, although I must confess that I have not always thought about it in this way. I cringe when I think about my first year in college and English Composition. The focus wasn’t on creativity, but upon spelling the word correctly and using correct punctuation. I’m sure I have used much of what was drilled in me, but I believe it would have been more helpful if there had been an equal focus on what I was writing, not just how I was writing it. Graduate school allowed me to heal my old wounds from English Composition and to begin to understand that perhaps I had some talent when it came to being able to translate psychological concepts and theories into language that most people could understand. This type of writing came easy for me and I have done a considerable amount of it over the years. Writing fiction did come easy for me. My first attempt in this area was Reaching Home, which was published in 2006. What went into the story were themes of resilience and, as the title implies, finding or, more correctly, creating a home for ourselves that is not a location or a geographical place, but is a place that we create within ourselves. Over the past three years, I have been working on a follow-up to Reaching Home. I anticipate it will be published by the end of this year. First Night focuses on the conflict between cynicism and hope. Both Reaching Home and First Night reflect the times in which they were written. I began writing Reaching Home just after 911. A major focus of the novel was our struggle as a society to conquer fear and our obsession with terrorism. First Night, which I began writing during the early years of the Great Recession focuses on realities that we continue to deal with daily, a Congress that remains deadlocked, an economy supposedly “recovering” — although some days it would be hard to know that — a nation whose trust in government is at a new all-time low and a political process that is increasingly controlled by big money and large corporations. But there are glimmers of hope, as there always are. Cynicism does not have to drown hope. The dark does not have to swallow the light. More about cynicism and hope in the next blog. by Ron Breazeale

The Writing Process

Today, I generally don’t find writing adverse. Although there are times when the face of adversity may be your editor’s. On the contrary, writing can be a way of dealing with adversity. Journaling is one of the best examples of this. There is something about putting things down in black and white that can help us to change our world and the way we feel about it. Thinking about the things that we’re concerned about, especially trying to think about them in a different way from a different perspective can be helpful. And certainly talking about them can help. But there’s something about putting them down in black and white that makes them more real. It forces us to accept what has happened and to look more clearly at what we are dealing with. Over my many years in this profession, I have had an opportunity frequently to write about what I do, whether it was summarizing a research study or debating the pros and cons of a particular program, or a way of approaching a particular problem. This kind of writing I have, in general, found easy to do. This is not to say that preparing an article for publication in a professional journal is easy. It isn’t. I certainly admire my colleagues who make it look easy. What I have found more difficult is writing fiction. I never appreciated the difficulties in writing a novel until I tried to write one. My first effort, Reaching Home, was published in 2006. The theme of the novel was, as my colleagues told me, resilience. Since that time, I have conducted over 50 workshops using storytelling and the novel as primary tools in teaching the skills and the attitudes of resilience. The program and the novel were put together in a workbook entitled Duct Tape Isn’t Enough, that was published in 2009. This workbook gives participants an opportunity to write about themselves and about the characters in the novel, Reaching Home. It gives readers an opportunity to tell their own story, if they choose to. Just like with Pennebaker’s research on journaling, readers can write about the difficult things that they had dealt with in their life and learn from their experiences, as well as discharge some of the feelings that they have been holding on to. During the past three years, I’ve been working on a second novel. It will contain a number of the characters from Reaching Home, and I’m sure some of my colleagues will say that one of its main themes is resilience. I’ll be talking more about it in my next blog. Have a comment? Start the discuss by Ron Breazeale

Policing in the 21st Century

Guest Blogger: Richard C. Lumb, Ph.D. “The past four decades reveal a substantial effort to changing how police provide services to the community. The quest to discovering a magic bullet effectively reducing and preventing crime, while improving the quality of community life and well-being, is ongoing” Society has grown more complex and confounding in its very nature. Diversity, increased population growth, a widening gap in income and useable resources, substance abuse issues that in some places push the envelope to near collapse, unlimited demands for service, a storm of technology that allows access from a hundred points of cyber space has become, for many service providers, both a boon and boondoggle. Boon, as people can get to those individuals deemed necessary for a solution and boondoggle as the demands exceed the capacity to deliver at times, of a trivial purpose in many instances, and unnecessary only because “calling” and “handing off” to someone else, has become a way of life. Police, represented by municipal, county, state and federal agencies, along with a growing private security force, have numerous and varied duties, responsibilities, and clientele. Guided by law and policy, driven by demand and managed with varying oversight, all are engaged in responding to calls for service, self-initiated activities, and for some, a response modality bordering on personal preference and agenda. The complexity of today’s environment is exacerbated by details that range from total fabrication to fact. Keeping one’s finger on the pulse of a police department and taking into consideration the myriad of events and detail becomes overwhelming, if allowed to operate without parameters. But, what are those parameters and do they matter? The role and function of police must be clearly defined and every employee must understand how they apply to what they do in the organization. We work for the organization and as such must put forth our best effort to assist in achievement of its goals. Drift, or addressing personal agendas and interests within duty time, simply must be managed. I do not adhere to crushing innovation and robotic employees, rather I refer to meeting the organizations mission, vision, values and goals and performing ones duties within these parameters. There is room for innovation in method and process, but it must be part of the ongoing plan and with the input and support of supervisory staff. Guiding Foundational Components A Mission statement tells you the fundamental purpose of the organization. It defines the customer and the critical processes. It informs you of the desired level of performance. A Vision statement outlines what the organization wants to be, or how it wants the world in which it operates to be. It concentrates on the future and is a long-term view. It is a source of inspiration, provides clear decision-making criteria and gives direction to the organization’s future. Values are the qualities that are considered worthwhile and they represent what every employee should aspire to for priorities and which guide their actions and behaviors. They define how employees want to behave in their relationships with each other, customers, and the greater community they provide service to. They are the fundamental beliefs of people working in that organization. Goal statements say where you want to be at some future time. Goals should be few in number, concise and not too specific. Goals indicate where the organization wants to go. A timeline is important showing milestones for accomplishment and the beginning and ending dates. Objectives are specific, measurable targets for each goal. They are short-term in nature and allow you to gauge the project’s success. Objectives indicate what the organization expects to accomplish. Action steps are a step-by-step process by which an organization reaches the objectives developed to fulfill the goal. They typically are programs, events, operations, and projects for the organization to accomplish its objectives. Also known as strategies! Substantial opportunity exists for innovation and use of personal expertise and interest, but it must be managed and first represent the organization’s core function and service model. We (the collective employees) are not independent contractors hired by an organization to “Go forth and do what you do,” as that model is not sustainable. The decades old failure to effectively and sustainably address repeat calls for service, to solve “hot spot” places of persistent problems or to follow-up on earlier calls (e.g., a take the report and move on mentality), is not effective or efficient. So, what is being suggested? Base Steps: 1. Insure that all employees are familiar with the organization’s mission, vision, values and goals. Familiarity means the individual understands his or her job functions and is able to measure compliance and outcomes. Ongoing case review helps strengthen understanding and application of performance to organization mission et al. 2. Supervisors must have the authority and requisite responsibility to manage employee engagements and to determine how they utilize their time. To do this well, means the organization must strip the extraneous tasks and assignments often dumped on supervisors, many/most not germane to their core duties. This added layer of work is distracting and takes away from performing intended supervisory functions. 3. Eliminate a daily routine of waiting for the call for service response to a more proactive, problem-solving model. Between call time is generally left to the individual officer and he or she will do traffic work, ride around the patrol area to be seen, and other “free to choose” time fillers. There is a great diversity of how this time is used and it is not the best we can do. Control of the agencies resources to achieve effectiveness and efficiency and measure outcomes, is responsible. We can do more with existing resources, if we manage them well. Saved money is used to address those things that are in need for attention. 4. Let the drivers of the organization, the utilization of people and resources, emerge from a concept of “SMART” or information driven policing, not some haphazard response model that allows too much “less than focused and sustainable results” outcomes. We must begin to measure time and costs and determine how we are utilizing resources. Are we effective and efficient, and if not why and what must be done to fix the issues? 5. Initiate a technological system where individuals have access to information needed for their job execution, utilize existing and innovative programs to maximize data applicability and engage in routine and sustained maximization of people, systems, policy and technology. To set a lower bar is not responsible as the cost of services in today’s environment is not sustainable, unless efficiency and effectiveness measures are implemented. 6. Operating in isolation and not developing multiple public/private collaborations is totally outdated and must be changed. Harnessing the power of multiple partnerships stands to help address the totality of needs by all. 7. Educate administrators, managers and supervisors in more up-to-date model of organizational functioning. Batts, Smoot and Scrivner (2012, 2-3) state, “Thus, despite substantial gains by police in crime fighting, there is still a widespread tendency to adhere to outdated and ineffective management practices. For example, even the way a department’s overall effectiveness is traditionally measured and tracked — typically some aspect of response time or fulfillment of calls for service — lacks relevance to current expecta­tions of and for police.” 8. And, of great importance, involve all employees in establishing operational guidelines and planning and keep them informed honoring their experience, knowledge, motivations and support for it helps the organization many times over. The collective value of employees, when harnessed and utilized appropriately, is a powerful force for innovation and quality of services deployment. Dr. Richard Lumb is a former Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Northern Michigan University and he is Emeritus from the State University of New York at Brockport where he was chair of the Criminal Justice Department. He has served in several community organizations including two-term Board Chairman of the York County Counseling Services and Chairman of the Governor's Mental Health Advisory Council for the State of Maine. He served on the Board of Directors for Tri-County Mental Health Services in Maine and is engaged with Maine Resilience, a program that focuses on managing stress, adversity and trauma. Maine Resilience is working the FEMA, Region I to bring resilience train-the-trainer programs to individuals and communities. Richard's web site: Maine Woods Organizational Developmental Services. Reference: Batts, A., Smoot, S., & Scrivner, E. (2012) Police Leadership Challenges in a Changing World. In, New Perspectives in Policing. Harvard Kennedy School/NIH, July 2012.

Serious Games

Serious games are quite the rage today. While I’m not talking about the games you will find on Xbox or gaming sites on the Internet, I am talking about a card game, but a serious one. Serious games are training games. They are being used today to teach everything from cooking skills for restaurant employees to consumer service skills. They are set up as a game. Participants often compete with each other. There are specific rules and timeframes in which things have to be completed. We have developed a game called “Bounce Back.” It is a card game we initially developed in a hard-copy form and have used it on a number of our trainings. Participants are dealt a card which has a challenge, a difficult situation that they must respond to. Participants have a set amount of time to respond to the challenge, and their responses are scored based on the number of skills and attitudes of resilience that they can apply to managing the challenge presented. Participants can play by themselves or with others. When participants play each other, the game encourages cooperation and compromise between players. (What a novel idea! Maybe we should send copies of this game to Congress and require that Democrats play Republicans.) In the next few months, we hope to develop an electronic version of the game that can be played off our website and can be downloaded. Here are some examples of challenge questions that are part of a subdeck of questions related to the challenges that employees and employers face. 1. You are repeatedly missing activities that your children are involved in, such as Little League games and dance recitals, because you are working long hours. You spend much of your time apologizing and trying to explain why you’re not able to leave the office earlier. What will you do? 2. You’ve never gotten along with one of your co-workers. Your job has changed recently and now you must work with this person each day. What will you do? And here’s a question from the not-so-likely, just-for-fun subdeck: You are barricaded in your house. There is total chaos outside. You had the good fortune of having prepared for such an emergency by stocking up on food and water. A supporter of the Second Amendment, you are armed to the hilt. A marauding band is approaching your home. You recognize some of them. They were liberal Democrats before they became flesh-eating zombies. What do you do? Hey, I said it was a game, didn’t I? We’ll be talking more about development of the Bounce Back serious game in future posts. by Ron Breazeale

Practicing and Applying Resilience

In the last two blogs I have talked about the importance of self-awareness as a prerequisite for being able to practice and apply the skills and the attitudes of resilience. If you don’t know where you’re starting from, it’s difficult to know where you’re going. And the skills and the attitudes that we have been talking about in this blog require practice in order for you to be able to apply them when you need them. Just like using the techniques of self-regulation, such as deep breathing or visualization, you need to have these well practiced before you need to apply them. In the middle of a crisis, it’s a little late to decide that you really need to work on being able to calm yourself down. Storytelling is one of the techniques that we use in teaching the attitudes and skills of resilience. Reading and listening to the stories that others tell as well as telling your own story could increase your understanding of these skills and attitudes and your ability to apply them. Storytelling has been around since the first human beings sat down around a campfire and talked about their lives. These first training sessions on resilience occurred thousands of years ago. From campfires to fireplaces to pot-bellied stoves to water coolers, we continue to tell stories about resilience. In most recent times, we have written these down in the form of novels and biographies and even more recently recorded them on tape and even more recently on the Internet. We have used a novel that I wrote a number of years ago, Reaching Home, as one of our primary tools in teaching the skills and the attitudes of resilience. A novel, I would argue, for the following reasons is one of the best ways to teach these attitudes and skills, since the average person requires 12 to 14 hours of time to read a novel. This time is often spent over weeks or months and is done frequently in the late evening before falling asleep. The activity is usually seen as enjoyable with the reader often identifying with one or more of the characters in the story. If you’re interested in learning more about how we have used the Reaching Home novel and other novels in our trainings, go to: Writing about difficult things that have occurred in our lives may often be helpful. Research by a psychologist named James Pennebaker and by others has found that writing about difficult things may actually improve our health. In a series of studies, one group of individuals was asked to write down their deepest thoughts and feelings about a traumatic event they had experienced. The other group wrote about ordinary matters, such as their plans for the day or for a vacation. Both groups wrote for 15 to 20 minutes a day for 3 to 5 consecutive days. Participants were told that no one would be collecting the stories that they wrote and that they could share or not share these stories with others. The results were surprising. When compared with the people who wrote about ordinary events, the ones who wrote about their traumatic experiences reported fewer physical symptoms, fewer visits to the doctor, fewer days off from work, improved mood and a more positive outlook. Their immune function seemed to be enhanced for at least 6 weeks after the writing exercise. These studies support the concept that writing about difficult situations that we have experienced may help us to understand and deal with the traumatic event. It may give us a sense of relief and control. Confiding our feelings in others and talking about what we have written may have a similar benefit. We use the novel, Reaching Home, in our trainings. We ask participations to read through the sections of the story and then to take time to answer specific questions about how characters in the novel have been applying or not applying the skills and the attitudes of resilience. We also ask participants to look at how they might or might not deal with the situations that the characters are encountering For more information about the training that we provide and how we make use of storytelling and the novel, Reaching Home, go to You can buy a copy of “Duct Tape Isn’t Enough,” which is our training program, through our website ( or through Amazon. In the next blog post, we will be talking about a “serious” game that we have developed to help people practice applying the skills and the attitudes of resilience. by Ron Breazeale


As we discussed in the last blog post, it is easy to review the skills and the attitudes of resilience and to agree with their importance. And because we may understand at least on an intellectual level what these skills and attitudes are, we may believe that we will be able to apply them to the challenges that we face in our lives each day. But like any skill, they require practice and self-awareness. In the last blog post, I posed a number of questions related to what you may have learned in managing stressful events in your past. I asked you not to just think about them, but to actually write in black and white your answers to the questions. Writing things down often helps us to organize and think about things in a different way. It is different than simply talking about or thinking about them. Here are a few more questions. 1. Who have been the role models in your life for dealing with adversity? What did you learn from them? We all have both good and bad role models. Sometimes we learn patterns and ways of dealing with things which aren’t extremely helpful or effective. If you grew up in a family where no one talked about anything, especially feelings, you have probably learned to do the same. Unfortunately, in terms of resilience, this is often not very helpful. 2. How have I helped others through hard times? Did helping them help me? How? 3. Have I thrown myself into work or other activities as a way of coping with hard times? Was this helpful? What was the upside and what was the downside? 4. What have I learned about myself and about others from managing difficult situations? 5. During hard times, was I able to use my head? Was I able to think clearly and problem solve in a crisis? Did the ability to think help me to manage my feelings, specifically the fear and the anger that may come up in a time of crisis? 6. How did adverse events in my life change my way of thinking about myself and about the world I live in? Am I a stronger person for having gone through a life crisis? How? Hopefully we learn from hard times. Over the last few years, the concept of post-traumatic growth has gained increasing acceptance. Researchers are finding that there is some truth to the old adage, “If it doesn’t kill you, it may make you stronger.” For more information about post-traumatic growth, go to: So review your answers to these questions. This exercise has been for you. No one needs see what you have written unless you wish to share it with them. Having a friend or a family member read and discuss with you what you have written my be helpful. You decide. by Ron Breazeale


Those of you who have been following this blog over the last few years understand the concept of resilience and may be able to list off a number of the skills and attitudes. My question to you would be: Have you been practicing and applying these skills? It’s easy to say, “Oh, yes. I understand that flexibility is important” and “I’m sure I’m a good communicator.” Or, “Sure, I understand that dealing with my feelings is important, and I try to.” But how do you know? But how do you manage your feelings? I would encourage you to spend some time looking at yourself and learning from your past. Awareness of what you have learned from past experiences in your life and from the role models in your life is critical to being able to practice and apply the skills and attitudes of resilience. You may want to take some time to review and answer the questions that follow. This is one of the exercises that we use in the workshops that we conduct on resilience. In exploring your past, ask yourself the following questions and write down the answers. Seeing things in black and white is different from simply thinking about them or even talking about them. No one will need to see what you have written down, unless you wish to share it with them. Having a friend or a family member read and discuss with you what you have written may be helpful. You decide. 1. What events have I experienced in my life that have been extremely stressful for me? A natural disaster, like a tornado or a hurricane; a personal disaster, such as the death of a spouse or a child; a house fire, divorce, bankruptcy, job loss, illness, disability? 2. How have I managed these events in my life? How did I deal with my feelings? Did I avoid talking about what was happening? Did I allow myself to discharge the feelings about the event? Did I think about significant others in my life and how they had or would deal with a similar crisis? 3. Did I ask others for help or did I go it alone? How did going it alone work out? If you asked for help, who helped you through these hard times? Take some time and review your answers. What have you learned about yourself by doing this that would help you to be more resilient and better able to manage adversity in your life? In the next blog post, I will give you some more questions to work on and think about. by Ron Breazeale


Freaks is an MGM film released in 1932 and directed by Todd Browning. Browning is better known for having directed Dracula. Freaks is not a horror film, but a sensitive and insightful portrayal of the lives of the human beings that were the main attractions at the circus freak shows of the 19th and 20th centuries. What is wonderful about this movie is that it portrays these people as people. They were a community. They fell in and out of love. They got married. They had families. They had friends and they had enemies. They were different in many ways, but they were human beings. The film was released over 80 years ago. At first, it was a box office failure. MGM, for a period of time, disowned it. But in more recent years, it has been recognized for the extraordinary film that it was. Much has changed in 80 years, and much has not. As I have said in previous blogs, persons with a disability or a physical or emotional difference know more about resilience than most people, since they must, in order to survive in our society. The characters in Freaks demonstrate many of these skills and attitudes of resilience. They connect with others, they communicate well with others sometimes verbally and sometimes not. They are amazingly good at problem solving, e.g., the man with no legs walks on his hands and wears gloves, the woman with no arms eats with her feet. They portray self-confidence and a sense of purpose. They take care of each other and help each other deal with the strong feelings that come up when they are not treated well or are bullied by “big people.” Unfortunately, the skills and attitudes that they portray so well in the film are still the ones that are required of persons who are different in order to survive in our society, a society that, in general, still favors homogeneity over diversity. by Ron Breazeale

The Boston Bombing

The events that unfolded in the City of Boston in the week of April 14, 2013, beginning with the Patriots Day bombings are one of the best and most recent illustration of the skills and attitudes of resilience. In the face of adversity, the citizens of Boston pulled together. They supported each other. While the city was shut down by the authorities as they searched for the perpetrators of the bombings, most people demonstrated flexibility and problem solving. They found other ways to get home, to care for themselves and their families, to manage their work, etc. And they communicated with each other about what was happening. Social media was a major part of this. Yes, social media may have been misused by some to spread rumors or make false accusations against innocent people, but overall the citizens of Boston assisted public safety personnel through social media in taking care of their fellow citizens, both physically and emotionally. Law enforcement and public safety personnel demonstrated all of the above and more. They came together and worked closely together, which is a difficult task, when an event occurs like this, where close cooperation between federal, state and local law enforcement is required. Oh, yes, there were problems at times in terms of knowing who was in charge, and there were problems with communication at times. But overall, the departments and agencies involved seemed to work well with each other. Now comes the hard part. The aftermath of what has happened. This is the time when we need to be able to deal with all of those feelings that we may have set aside in order to get through the week of April 14. This is especially true for first responders and public safety. And all of us have to begin to figure out what meaning all of this has to us and how it relates to our lives as we go forward. Hopefully, we will not allow these events to dampen our confidence in ourselves and our society’s ability to deal with adversity. We can choose how we look at the events in Boston. We can take a pessimistic view or an optimistic one. The latter would say that the week has passed. It has affected many in a deeply negative way. But the impact of these events for most of us can be temporary and specific, not permanent and pervasive, and those responsible can be held accountable for their actions without being demonized or written off as insane. And perhaps most important, we now need to get back to the business of taking care of ourselves. First responders and healthcare professionals are often major offenders in this area. We often assume that the rules do not apply to us, but they do. by Ron Breazeale

Relationships With Those Closest To Us - Part 2

All relationships, if they are to be sustained and if we are to keep the connection, require resilience. In the previous blog we talked about the importance of communicating effectively, being willing to be flexible and to compromise, being an effective problem solver and not allowing our feelings to cloud our thinking. Some of the other skills and attitudes of resilience that are critical to maintaining a positive connection with those closest to us is our ability to take care of ourselves as well as to support or help our partner. This requires balance. Relationships are an exchange. They need to work for both partners. In general, relationships that are out of balance do not work that well for either partner. One of the things that helps relationships to stay in balance is a shared sense of purpose and direction. This usually means that the partners share similar values. There needs to be a match on such things as children, material possessions, etc. It also helps if two people share a similar outlook on life. It doesn’t have to be identical. Both partners don’t have to be optimists. Indeed, opposites do attract. But how you manage these differences will be critical to whether the relationship survives and flourishes or whether it ends in divorce court. And last of all, relationships with those closest to us are certainly easier if we have a sense of humor and if we can laugh at ourselves. Relationships with those closest to us can be a major source of fulfillment and satisfaction in our lives or they can become exceedingly stressful and aversive. Whether the relationship is resilient and survives the challenges that we will face or whether it will end will be determined in large part by our ability to apply the skills and the attitudes of resilience. by Ron Breazeale