We like this quote from Sharon Salzberg, a bestselling author and leading figure in the meditation community: “Resilience is based on compassion for ourselves as well as compassion for others.”
There are three key components in the quote—resilience, compassion for ourselves, and compassion for others—each of which has an application for a person in recovery.
Let’s take a look at each of them.
The Importance of Resilience in Recovery
What does it mean to be resilient? The American Psychological Association defines it like this:
[T]he process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. As much as resilience involves “bouncing back” from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth.
Okay, so resilience has two components: what might be called “bouncebackability” and significant personal growth.
Bouncebackability is easy to understand, and it is a trait that serves those who have it very well. When faced with challenges, setbacks, or disappointments, a resilient person does not give up or give in. Instead, they bounce back, getting back to work on whatever the goal or project might be. That project, of course, might well be the maintenance of sobriety in the face of cravings and temptations.
And how does personal growth fit into the notion of resilience? Well, as most of us come to realize over time, setbacks can teach us important things about ourselves. Are we resolute in the face of challenges? Are we afraid of failure? Do we, in fact, have bouncebackability—and if not, can we develop it based on our reaction to the current situation? How can we use this situation to make the next challenge easier to face?
It perhaps goes without saying that having a resilient spirit is a significant benefit for a person in recovery. But how do you become more resilient?
Back to Salzberg’s quote—but we’ll skip to the end and come back to the middle in a bit.
Cultivating Compassion for Others
It can be easy to be judgmental about the actions of others. It can be even easier to simply not be aware of others—their struggles, their needs, and their hopes.
But Salzberg reminds us that developing compassion for others is a key part of building up resilience. Developing that compassion involves reminding ourselves that every single person we meet is facing challenges of their own. Even more powerful than arriving at this realization, however, is setting out to do something about it.
The active form of compassion is being of service to others. Finding opportunities to serve is a wonderful way to give back to your community while also supporting your recovery. And the options are nearly endless. Whether you volunteer for an organization that is doing good work, make a one-to-one connection with someone who could use your help, or something in between, serving others is a way of serving yourself as well.
Which brings us back to the middle of Salzberg’s quote about the nature of resilience.
Cultivating Compassion for Yourself
Have you ever noticed that your inner voice has a strong tendency to criticize you? Sometimes, we trick ourselves into believing that our inner voice is some sort of objective critic, but of course, that is not true at all. Your inner critic is just you yourself passing judgment on yourself.
But what if you showed yourself more compassion—the kind of compassion you have been cultivating for others? That means reframing your inner narrative. It means giving yourself a break when things go wrong or differently than you had hoped. And it means doing important work around things like diet, exercise, sleep, mindfulness, and more to ensure that you are in good physical and mental health, because those things are intertwined with your sobriety.
When you do those things, you are kinder to yourself. And when you are kinder to yourself, you build a stronger foundation for your ongoing sobriety.
Getting Help Is Showing Yourself Compassion, Too
When you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, it can be hard to be kind to yourself. You might be embarrassed or ashamed. You might be angry with yourself and might therefore think you don’t deserve any help. You might decide that the only way to prove yourself worthy is to get sober on your own.
We understand those feelings. But we also understand that if you truly want to show yourself some compassion, you need to accept the kind of help you can receive at French Creek Recovery Center. Professionals at our Meadville, PA, facility can help you reclaim your sobriety, address co-occurring mental health disorders, and give you the tools and support you need to begin your recovery journey with confidence.