Happy Monday. Here we are with part 2 of my resiliency series. Building on the previous post related to mastery, this post focuses on building connections. As I mentioned previously, gifted individuals, both children and adults, are hardwired in ways that present unique challenges to overall resiliency. And while these posts will take a look at some of the inherent problems facing the GT population, I do not want any reader to interpret this to mean that GT individuals are MORE prone to resiliency challenges. I would actually argue that the very nature of giftedness may serve as a well of internal resources helping improve resiliency for most. But we will get into that in a follow-up post or two.

And now, let’s talk about building connections.

Connections refers to the ability to make meaningful relationships with peers and adults, and to derive support from these relationships. In short, it refers to the feeling of having people in your corner who “get you” and “have your back”. Although it is important for children to have actual support, the research is clear that perceived support is far more important with regards to this aspect of resiliency and protection factors.

—Building and having positive connections typically involves the attributes of trust (trusting that the people in your life will not abandon you), support (feeling that those most trusted in your life are supportive of you and your issues/endeavors), comfort (feeling comfortable around people and with your peers and adults), and tolerance (being accepting of others and their unique styles, thought processes and needs).

Obviously, GT kids may run into a few barriers in these areas related to the basic characteristics of giftedness, including some of the following:

—Building Connections:
  • —Like minded peers vs. typically developing peers
  • Difficulties developing relationships in general related to giftedness
  • Introverts vs extroverts
Imposter Syndrome and its impact
  • —Perceived Support vs Real Support
  • Rigid and narrow definitions of friendship, support, and/or expectations
  • Adaptability issues like those discussed under Mastery
  • OEs (intensities)
  • —Rigid thinking (yes, this does keep coming up!)
  • —Resistance to change
As you can see, this is another aspect of resiliency that can pose unique problems. So, how do we help? Like mastery, I think the answer starts with parents and/or educators understanding their own challenges with regards to building connections and Imposter Syndrome. We must reframe our difficulties, paying attention to any challenges we have with rigid thinking. As we do this for ourselves, we learn how to help our children do the same. Furthermore, by regularly looking inward at our own perceptions and behaviors, we cultivate an environment conducive to self-reflection and analysis. This environment, then, provides a risk free way for our children to do the same.
What do you think? Can you see ways in which your own thinking (or the thinking of your children) works against your development of strong and supportive connections?

7 thoughts on “Resiliency Part 2 – Building Connections

  1. I guess I don’t understand why I am prone to rigid thinking (and I agree that I am) when I am at the same time so analytical and able to view each situation from multiple perspectives. Where does this “locked-in” thing come from? Some evil place surely! =)

    1. HA! I love that – some evil place. I think we all get stuck in our own perspective from time to time. And at our worst, that very aspect that enables us to see things from many sides, forces us to get stuck in our own point of view – two sides of the same coin, you know?!?

  2. I’m good at connections. It’s saved me. To have people around me to remind me to lighten up etc.
    Connecting has gotten easier with media, though true personal connections are best of course. But the more the better.

    1. You know, social networking has SAVED me in this regard – My introvertedness can be easily compensated for when I have the nature distance that the computer allows me. Otherwise, relationships can be really taxiing from an energy standpoint

  3. I would love to see some examples of what you mean by “rigid thinking.” I think I can relate to Robin –I am more often than not able to see both sides of an issue. Sometimes this can be detrimental, because it makes it harder for me to decide what is “right thing” to do. For me, my thinking becomes more rigid when there are more personal, emotional issues involved. Is that what you mean by “rigid thinking?” Thanks!

    1. Yes, personal and emotional issues. That’s true. Catastrophic thinking. All or none. Idealistic perfectionistic visions followed up with disappointing reality. A plan made that needs readjusting. First reaction is Oh no, but then I deal fine and adjust.
      That kind of thing.

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