A recovering addict faces the same ups and downs in life as anyone else, but with the added pressure of knowing how important it is to handle the “downs” without turning to drugs or alcohol. Recovering addicts need to develop rock-solid resilience in order to forge ahead and never look for solace in drugs or alcohol ever again. Without resilience, the possibility of relapse becomes ever more ominous.
What Is Resilience?
Resilience refers to your ability to “bounce back” from hardships. In the worst-case scenarios, you might experience the death of a loved one or lose your job. Both events may alter the way you live your life forever. You have to adapt to a new way of being. The act of adapting is resiliency. But we practice resiliency here and there throughout our lives. For example, there was once a time during your childhood where you would have cried huge crocodile tears if the bakery didn’t have any more of your favorite cookies. As an adult, you might be disappointed that you can’t have your favorite flavor of cookie, but you’re not about to fall down in the middle of the floor and cry about the injustice of it. Instead, you’ll just ask for another cookie. Maybe tomorrow they’ll have chocolate mint in stock again! So over the course of your life, you’ve already been honing your ability to bounce back from unexpected surprises. Now, you just have to learn how to do the same during addiction recovery. It might seem difficult, but then again, it’s always been difficult to learn these lessons of resilience. You will come out the other side stronger.
Tips for Building Resilience During Recovery
The road to recovery looks a little different for everyone, but there are some typical scenarios that you can expect: struggling with the temptation to use again, not knowing how to cope with difficult things in life without drugs or alcohol, wondering if you’ll ever be able to attend a wedding without being seduced by the wine … No matter what you’re faced with, the following tips can help you develop resilience:
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You never, ever have to go through something alone. If you are having a tough time, reach out to friends, family members or professionals for a helping hand. Resiliency is indeed an internal trait, but knowing when to ask for help (and not being too stubborn to accept it!) is part of developing resilience too.
- Understand that life is change. Whether we like it or not, change is inevitable and is just a part of life. We all grow older, and that’s a big change to deal with on its own. But other changes in life happen all the time. Our neighbors move. We make new friends. We take on different responsibilities at work. We can’t play our favorite sports like we used to. Change isn’t a bad thing. It just happens.By the same token, understand that you may experience the stages of grief with any change in your life. It is OK to mourn change. But do seize the earliest opportunity to look forward to exciting possibilities that go along with change.
- Sometimes you will fail, but you will always learn. Nelson Mandela had a great quote on this topic: “I never lose. I either win or learn.” Adopt that same attitude in life. Any time you fail, you learn important lessons. Take the time to consciously think about what you’ve learned from any mistakes you’ve made. You’ll only grow stronger if you do.
- Keep a positive attitude. Spinning failures into positive learning opportunities is just one example of a positive attitude in action. Keep your chin up. Don’t accept defeat.Have you ever blown a situation out of proportion? Once it was all over and you had the opportunity to look back on things, did you realize that you made a mountain out of a molehill? Try to see those molehills for what they are: things you can easily conquer. Stay calm, and take one step at a time.
- Be more decisive. When something unexpected happens in your life, what is your first reaction? Do you take care of it? Do you ask someone for advice? Or do you wail your woes to every single person you meet that day?Being resilient means getting things done. Remember the molehills are just molehills! Learn to be more decisive and to plan a solution before you get too hyped up to think clearly.
- Make Self-Care a Priority. You need to be feeling and thinking your best in order to handle life’s obstacles and bounce back easily. Take the time to care for yourself each and every day. Get plenty of sleep, stay hydrated, eat nourishing food and don’t neglect yourself mentally, physically or emotionally. Take breaks and vacations. Let yourself try something new or engage in an old hobby. Do whatever it takes to keep yourself happy in the good times, and you’ll be ready to double-down in the bad times.
Finally, remember all of the trials and tribulations that you’ve gotten through. You have a pretty great track record for conquering whatever life throws at you! “This too shall pass.”