One of the challenges of life is to balance the load we are experiencing (stress) with our resilience. It wasn’t until I read the writings of Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein, however, that I began to think in these terms more specifically for myself and for family, friends, staff and patients. There are many varieties of load from physical and mental sources which combine and interact. Some are short-term. The most challenging are those which are long-term. We balance the stress from these loads with the stores of resilience which we have developed through our experiences and relationships. Resilience can be expanded and renewed through rest, experiences, relationships, and activities which we personally find to be restorative. The consequences of a prolonged imbalance between load and stress can cause anxiety, decreased performance, the feeling that we are not in control of our lives, and detract from our physical health.
For patients, we seek to reduce the load (larger font, breaks from visually demanding tasks, more time, less crowded pages, more appropriate reading level, optimizing lighting and reducing glare, better posture, and less homework, as examples). We also strive to increase resilience (optimizing lens prescriptions, specialty lenses for tasks such as computer use, and through optometric vision therapy). Vision therapy increases resilience by enhancing visual motor skills and visual perceptual skills; enhancing their integration; enhancing their integration with other skills; and facilitating the application of these skills. Therapy also increases resilience through a better understanding of who we are and our capabilities. Growth through therapy demonstrates that we can handle challenges and grow through attention, meaningful rehearsal, and persistence. As much as we want to protect our children, they cannot develop resilience without making mistakes and being challenged by them – not defeated. Children should also have opportunities to work in their islands of competence and to do that which is meaningful to them. The following are excerpts from Raising Resilient Children and The Power of Resilience….
Raising Resilient Children and The Power of Resilience
Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein
Assuming personal control and responsibility is a fundamental underpinning of a resilient mindset, one that affects all other features of their mindset and serves as a catalyst to change.
One of the hallmarks of a resilient mindset is the ability to view mistakes or failures as experiences from which to learn rather than to feel defeated.
This defeatism may eventually assume the form of what psychologist Martin Seligman called learned helplessness (“I can’t”), or the belief that “whatever I do will not work, so why try?” (Children with visual problems are particularly prone to this attitude because they are frequently “rewarded” with poorer performance when they try harder.)
Anger, frustration, and inflexibility render the so-called Golden Rule inoperative. The Golden Rule is rooted in our ability to be empathic and is a cornerstone of living resiliently.
Self-acceptance is a cornerstone of attaining a resilient lifestyle. In the absence of self-acceptance, it is difficult to accept others. Self-acceptance is associated with self-esteem and dignity. The achievement of self-acceptance is a lifelong process involving an ongoing, honest evaluation of our strengths and vulnerabilities; of our goals and expectations; of whether we are involved in activities that bring us satisfaction, contentment, and joy; and of whether we are living our life in accordance with our basic values.
The fear of making mistakes is one of the most potent obstacles to learning, one that is incompatible with a resilient mindset.
If success does not build on success; if success is not experienced joyfully, if it does not build confidence and a feeling of control of one’s life, then it will not serve to reinforce a resilient mindset.