Putting the Resilience into Recovery.

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Putting the Resilience into Recovery.

21 August, 2020Articles, News

Resilience is the remarkable human capacity for bouncing back. The hallmark of resilience is the ability to adapt in the face of adversity, be it trauma, tragedy, threats, adversity, or any other source of stress, from relationship troubles, workplace and money stressors, to serious health issues.

This isn’t to say that a resilient person never experiences any degree of difficulty or distress, or that if they do- it doesn’t affect them emotionally. It merely means that they have the strength and coping skills to bounce back after these traumas. Resilience is not a personality trait that people are born with, either. It’s a set of skills which can be learnt and built upon.

Some of the so called unfortunates referred to in The Big Book: alcoholics , addicts, “failures”, people who’ve attempted suicide, those lost in depression — the kind of people you’d never think would make it through — and yet, their resilience has been both remarkable and transformative.

Traditional trauma and crisis theory suggest that people generally adapt well over time to life-changing situations and stressful conditions. After a six to eight-week period, normal coping skills kick in and life returns to a kind of normality.

Most people we encounter in the rehab environment do not have the coping skills to manage the trauma that has resulted in a life of abuse of substances. They turn to an addictive set of behaviours to stop the emotional pain that they are facing. This often results in a life of complete unmanageability and destruction both to themselves and those close to them – family, partners friends and work colleagues.

There are some of these individuals who have been through hell and emerge on the other side. They embody all that the research into this field outlines. There are several factors that can enhance resilience, and it can be cultivated to serve you in overcoming life’s hurdles. Some of these are outlined below:

● Supportive relationships characterised by love and trust;

● Role models who offer encouragement and reassurance;

● The capacity to make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out;

● Develop positive self-esteem and confidence in your strengths and abilities;

● Skills in communication and problem-solving;

● The ability to control and deal with strong feelings and impulses.

One of the most relevant theories to understand the capacity for resilience is the theory of locus of control. It initially comes from social psychologist Julian Rotter in the 1950s and has been expanded on in many areas of behavioural science, most notably by Bernard Weiner, who was on the psychology faculty at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) from 1965 into the early 2000s.

Your locus of control is the extent to which you believe you have control over the outcomes of events in your life, as opposed to external forces that are beyond your control. People with a strong internal locus of control believe outcomes result primarily from their own actions and abilities: for example, they feel the capacity to stay clean and sober comes down mostly their own efforts. They view their success or failure as being dependent on their ability to beat the disease.

A person with a strong external locus of control will assign using triggers and behaviour to external factors and circumstances over which they have no control.

Research has also shown that there are 5 key factors that contribute significantly to the chances of post discharge recovery.

● Support from others:

Does the person have a supportive and understanding environment of people in their lives that will aid the recovery process in a mature, stable manner? This could be family, a partner, a group of positive friends, a supportive employment environment and of course the AA and NA fellowship with meetings sponsors and all that goes with the recovery environment.

● Flexibility and adaptability

Has the person developed a set of flexible behavioural skills and tools to deal with adversity when it arises?

● Action planning

Do they have a plan of action in place to manage their daily monthly and yearly activities and have they built in contingency plans to adjust these plans when things do not work out according to their plan? Covid-19. Do we need to say anything more?

● Self-awareness

Have they developed a strong sense of self-awareness so that they can manage their behaviour in the most appropriate way in different situations?

● Hopefulness

Do they have a sense of hope for the future or are they consumed by despair and depression?

Resilience can be learned or taught. It involves developing thoughts, behaviors, and actions that allow you to recover from traumatic or stressful events in life. “When we learn how to become resilient, we learn how to embrace the beautifully broad spectrum of the human experience.” – ― Jaeda Dewalt.

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