How to Be Resilient

Resilience – having a solution-focused approach to overcoming obstacles and challenges leads to greater well being – this can aid in both prevention of substance use disorders and in recovery.

Resilience is a powerful tool to have, but it isn’t something you can buy on Amazon.  So how do you become resilient and what is the purpose of being resilient? One definition of resilience is being able to recover quickly from difficulties, another definition is elasticity or flexibility. It is no secret that everyone will go through challenges in their lifetime, but what if you had the mindset to overcome?  What if when tough times hit, you know how to hit back even harder? A solution-focused approach to problems (current or future) helps people bounce back. Here are some tools to become resilient which can aid in both prevention of substance use disorders and in recovery.

  • Be committed.  This is one of the most important steps in becoming resilient. If you are not fully resolved to master the situation, you will not see the results that you want. Being committed does not mean that you won’t have slip ups, but that you will learn and grow from mistakes in a way that you become even more resilient. Life’s curveballs don’t have to mean automatic strike outs.  Resilience is having the tools to learn how to adjust your swing.
  • Create and achieve goals.  Goals can be rewarding and a great way to solve problems. Goals can lift you out of the tunnel-vision created by problems, toward the solution-minded focus that leads to resilience. Create goals that are attainable, but still challenge and push you. A great guideline for setting goals is being SMART. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
  • Understand and know your limits. The solution-focused approach isn’t supposed to scare you away, but rather give hope and comfort.  A focus on solutions can lift someone out of the feeling of dread from overwhelming problems. Understand that your solution may only work for a particular instance or moemnt.  Be patient. Eventually solving problems will create a feeling of mastery and resilience to the challenges of life.

Resilience is a powerful tool in the self-management toolbox of prevention.  When youth are resilient, they can more easily manage the struggles and challenges of peer pressure, family problems, turbulent emotions, school problems, and social distress.  Resilience in youth means that they will more likely choose a positive coping solution in the face of challenges, rather than risky behaviors, substance use, or mental health crises.  One of the best ways to help youth is to instill resilience, confidence, and encourage solution focused coping.

Guest post by: Ashli Lund and Maren Wright Voss.

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