While there are multiple factors that contribute to the success and longevity of maintained sobriety, many elements relate to your attitude and perception.
You can be educated on the diverse mechanisms of response, but without authentic belief in free will and your capacity to change, you limit your ability to overcome obstacles.
What Exactly Is Resilience?
According to the definition stated by the American Psychological Association, “Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors.”
Resilience is the ability to bounce back. In nature, plants and animals adapt in order to improve resiliency to external stimuli.
How Can You Build Resilience?
When it comes to improving one’s resilience, change must happen in regard to how one responds to the outside world. People who become addicted to substances have often faced traumatic situations and overwhelming life challenges. Substance abuse, then, becomes a mediator, a silencer, or a method to distance oneself from people, places, or things that have caused, or are currently causing, discomfort.
Change is most effective when it comes from within. What you believe in defines the constructs of your reality. Your beliefs impact how you feel, your feelings impact how you think, and how think impacts how you respond. If you believe that you are a victim, you will perceive that the world around you and your circumstances are things that are happening to you. With a victim mentality, you will see yourself as passively waiting for things to happen.
On the other hand, if you believe that you can and will defeat anything, then you will consider yourself a free agent who plays an active role in society. By believing that you have the power to defeat obstacles, you will feel empowered. When you feel empowered, you’re pulled from a victim mentality into a place of authenticity. This is resilience.
Consider the following suggestions to build resilience.
- Make connections. Relationships require a level of vulnerability on both sides. Accepting support from others helps to build resilience. Some find these connections through friends and family members, others by joining support groups who volunteer in the community. By helping others, you build a solid foundation for recovery.
- Practice self-discovery. When you take the time to slow down and quiet the mind, you can gain a better understanding of yourself. Part of that is looking at your own struggles and losses from a nuanced perspective. Rather than being in the throes of experience, looking back allows you to see how much you’ve grown. Keeping a journal or an art pad are great tools for self-discovery. Art allows us to operate outside of the ego to a more heart-centered or subconscious state. By stepping outside of the conscious mind, a different truth can arise which can lead to an increased sense of self-worth and appreciation.
- Nurture a positive view of yourself. Stop telling yourself that you are ugly, fat, stupid, etc. Focus on the things you love about yourself. So what if you have stretch marks or don’t have a wealth of knowledge in geography? Turn your attention toward the parts of yourself that allow you to prosper. Maybe you don’t love your hands, but they are some of the best tools you’ve got. Thank your mind and body for the power and potential that lies within.
- Keep things in perspective. Avoid seeing crisis as insurmountable. In times of hardship—whether it involves an argument with a friend or the death of a loved one—turning emotions inward and self-destructing is never a solution. Try to think about a broader context. What can you do to pay tribute to the hardship? To understand the obstacle as a way of validating your own inner strength? Being alive means enduring pain. There’s no reason to use any hardship as a reason to backpedal.
- Maintain a hopeful outlook. Hope doesn’t have to be a lofty ideal. Hope can be a state of optimism, a belief that an any moment things can change; and they do. Practice visualizing yourself as your best version, rather than focusing on the things that aren’t working out. An article in Psychology Today describes hope as something that developed with the evolution of the brain; for some 500,000 to two million years—depending on who you ask—the brain is believed to have been evolving into the consciousness as we know it, a binary of two different types of apprehension: objective versus subjective reasoning.
- Take care of yourself. One of the best methods of self-care is to practice gratitude. When you are grateful to the body and breath that you have, you will want to honor and improve—which mean exercising and eating nutritious foods. If you are eating and sleeping right, your mind and body will be fit to deal with whatever life throws your way.
Perception and positivity result in power. Change is inevitable, but you have the ability to direct it into a beneficial rather than destructive force.