As we live through these very challenging times, I can’t imagine anyone arguing about the need for developing resilience. This is especially true for those of us in recovery from addictions, whatever be our addiction or addictions. In this article, I’d like to suggest four practices that I have found helpful in developing resilience.
The first practice is to maintain our sources of support and possibly even looking for more sources. I don’t believe we can have too much support! I see support as a two-way street – both giving and receiving. This is finding some people with whom we can share our journeys. The 12 Step group I belong to has adapted to meeting via Zoom and these meetings keep our connections alive. Don’t forget your sponsor and possibly increase the number of times you speak each week.
The second practice is finding some sense of power in these times where many of us are feeling so powerless in regard to the impact of the pandemic. This is not feeling grandiose or entitled; rather, where can we find something we can do that can contribute to others? Remember that bumper sticker that said “Random acts of kindness” – might be good to practice today. This is Step 12 – spreading the news of recovery to other addicts as well as spreading the good news to everyone. What can I do to help another person? This builds resilience as well as a sense of well-being
The third practice is having something we are going to do, which can be an important way to begin the day and give a focus. For me, this also means looking for manageable things to do – the opposite of the unmanageability of Step 1. Little things make a difference! Keep it manageable or we will find ourselves disconnecting and throwing in the towel and feeling less resilient.
The fourth practice is focusing on the positive and not drowning in the negative – like how terrible things are. I see power in affirming others for what they are doing – like people who are on the front line, fighting this pandemic; family members who are hanging there in the face of challenges, members of our support groups. I also see the importance of self-affirmation, which is the opposite of negative self-talk and judgments we make upon ourselves. Be willing to affirm others as well as yourself. Such affirming can change the atmosphere as well as change peoples’ lives.
Giving and receiving support, feeling we can do something, having a focus and intention for our lives and affirming others and ourselves: these are ways to develop resilience. I believe it takes a community to develop and maintain resilience and this is even more true today. You don’t have to go it alone – with others, there is a way to developing and maintaining resilience.
Mark T. Scannell is the author of Resilience: The Ability to Rebound from Adversity.