As written by Tabitha Cabrera from her blog @Peace of Autism
I often think about what impact others have on my well-being and state of mind. I struggle with the open sharing of our life with others around us at times for fear of judgment. I have found comfort in the fact that others have shared their story with me and a deep connection out of small understandings of what others go through each day.
I want our children to have empathy for others and an open mind to learn as much as possible about different viewpoints. Not to agree with what is pushed on them about the world, but when we have compassion for others, we can live a deeper, richer life, filled with hope and understanding.
This life we live can be filled with stress which can fill us with longing for something that isn’t sitting in front of us.
I didn’t think that we would be filled with a longing to connect to others who understand fully what we are experiencing in the landscape of our parenting path. Maybe I was naive about how much really goes into raising children.
I recently came across a research study, “How to Transform Stress into Courage and Connection,” the research focused on the social side of stress, especially in women. It looked at both animals and humans. They found evidence that stress can increase caring, cooperation, and compassion.
It discussed a tend-and-befriend theory, a different view of our response to stress which can lead to an “instinct to protect your tribe.” This instinct is sometimes expressed differently in men and women, but both men and women share it.
What is it? “In times of stress, both men and women have been shown to become more trusting, generous, and willing to risk their own well-being to protect others.”
“At its core, the tend-and-befriend response is a biological state to reduce fear and increase hope.”
The study went on to explain how it works. When the system is activated, you feel more empathy, connection, trust, and a desire to bond or be close with others. You feel optimistic about your ability to do something meaningful. It also enhances your perception, intuition, and self-control. Making your actions have a stronger positive impact by making it easier to understand what is needed.
The study beautifully explains if you are “overwhelmed by your own stress or the suffering of others, the way to find hope is to connect, not to escape.” That if you go out of your way to support others, you can navigate your own experience with motivation and optimism.
This study perfectly explains the resilience that is special needs parenting.