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Addiction Recovery Tips: How to Cultivate Resilience through Mindset

By Gloria Anderson on May, 4 2020

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Gloria Anderson

When faced with difficult times or challenging experiences, having resilience can be an important tool – especially for those in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. What is resilience and how does one cultivate resilience in addiction recovery?

First, what is resilience anyway? Resilience is the ability to bounce back, or rise above adversity. This can be either as an individual, family, or a community. Resilience is also the process of using available resources to negotiate hardships and/or the consequences of adverse events. 

There are many ways to cultivate resilience. Some include the following: developing a sense of belonging, being mindful, engaging in intentional discomfort, and cultivating a growth mindset.

A growth mindset –the opposite of a fixed mindset – means believing things can be improved or changed through hard work, input from others, and good strategies. For example, if you look at a difficult situation as a challenge instead of a problem, that’s a growth mindset. Someone with a fixed mindset might just see a challenge as a place to get stuck.

If you don’t have a growth mindset just yet, have no fear: It’s easy to cultivate.

These are just two possible ways to adjust your mindset. Like the principles of recovery, these simple practices are not always easy to do and are so worth it in the long run.

First, practice gratitude, daily. This can take the form of journaling, writing down or sharing what you are grateful for. Some people even do a group text for their gratitude! 

Taking it one more step, a technique I learned from Brene Brown is to get specific with your gratitude. Although saying “I am grateful for my family” is a good start, can you push yourself to identify the details of why you are grateful? For me, it is identifying that my daughter made me laugh by saying something silly. In my gratitude journal, I write down exactly what she said. Then, verbalize your gratitude out loud to someone. 

A second practice for cultivating a growth mindset is to focus on the good. When you are finding yourself, or the other person in a conversation focusing on the negative, the struggle or being pessimistic, change the focus to the good. Simply asking, tell me something good. What is something good about your day? What is something positive about the situation? 

Life is not always going to be rainbows and unicorns. If you work on developing your resilience through mindset, you will have a better outlook on how to overcome adversity instead of being held down by it. 

Want to understand or learn more? Check out this Harvard Business School article and Alison Ledgerwood TED talk.

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