“My barn having burned down, I can now see the moon.”
A Silver Lining
The 17th century Japanese poet Mizuta Masahide (who was also a samurai) made this observation. It’s a wonderful example of finding the good in a bad situation—and as such, it offers an important lesson about resilience.
Resilience–which can be defined as having the ability to recover quickly and skillfully from setbacks and difficulties–is a key element of the recovery journey. After all, a person in recovery for a substance use disorder is going to face many challenges as they work toward maintaining their hard-won sobriety. Those challenges can be difficult to overcome—and in some cases may even lead to relapse.
But if you have a resilient spirit, you can move forward from any setback and find the good in every lesson learned. That doesn’t mean you go through life pretending problems don’t exist. We’re confident, for example, that Masahide wasn’t jumping for joy when his barn burned down. But it does mean staying balanced, flexible, and optimistic even when times are tough.
So, how can you build up your resilience so that you are ready to see the beauty of the moon after your (metaphorical) barn burns down?
We have some ideas.
Resilience Starts With Taking Care of Your Body
Given that Masahide was a samurai in addition to being a poet, the odds are high that he took good care of his body. Our physical health and our mental health are deeply intertwined. So taking care of our body is one essential way to build a foundation for good mental health and the resilience that comes with it.
That means eating a nutritious diet, getting regular exercise, and establishing good sleeping habits, all of which are key building blocks for creating a life characterized by resilience.
Resilience Grows When You Take Care of Your Mind
We’ve cited the connection between physical health and mental health, but there are plenty of additional ways to build up a spirit of resilience.
For example, a commitment to remaining present in the moment rather than ruminating about the past or worrying about the future can help us remain more flexible and adaptable at difficult times. The practice of mindfulness can help us achieve this sort of mindset.
It is also important to transform your inner critic—that voice in your head that is constantly listing all of the things you have done wrong and likely will do wrong—into an inner cheerleader. A shift to more positive self-talk can increase confidence, which in turn can support your resiliency.
Processing your emotions—whether through therapy or via an activity like journaling (remember, Masahide was a writer)—is also a good way to increase your levels of resilience.
Your Resilience Is Boosted When You Help Others
So far, we’ve been talking about focusing on your own health. But another way to increase your adaptability involves shifting your focus from yourself to others.
Being of service to others turns out to be a kind of service to ourselves as well. A spirit of service and thankfulness can help remind us that we are not alone in our struggles and that help is always available. Sometimes we are the helpers, and sometimes we are the ones who need the help. Remembering that—and helping when we are able—can add a sense of purpose and connection to our lives, both of which support resiliency.
Service to others can take any number of forms. Maybe you would enjoy volunteering at a school or a food pantry or an animal shelter. Maybe you would enjoy being part of a service organization or faith-based organization that works to improve your community. Maybe there are opportunities to support the arts in your region—either monetarily or with your talents. Maybe you could make a difference just by reaching out to people who might be feeling lonely or sad and offering a word of encouragement over coffee.
There are plenty of ways to serve, and all of them can lead to an increase in your personal resiliency.
And we want to emphasize an important point here: Being willing to seek out and accept help when you need it is exactly what a resilient person would do. Being resilient doesn’t mean going it alone when times are tough.
The Importance of Resilience After a Relapse
Speaking of tough times, perhaps no time is more difficult for a person in recovery than the immediate aftermath of a relapse. A lapse in your sobriety can feel like a crushing defeat, and it might be tempting to conclude that you simply don’t have what it takes to stay away from drugs or alcohol.
But that simply isn’t true. A relapse is a setback, to be sure. But if you have been focusing on building up a store of resilience, you will be ready and willing to return to treatment. Far from a failure, a return to detox and rehab provides an opportunity to fine-tune your treatment and recovery strategies.
A relapse can feel like your barn has burned down, but the resilient person can see the moon even in the midst of challenges.
We Are Ready to Help
At Wooded Glen Recovery Center, we will personalize a treatment plan for you. You’ll regain your sobriety and build resilience for your recovery journey.