If you have been on social media in the last couple of days you will probably have come across a very good article published by the Huffington post, regarding addiction. I discovered it this morning after a friend of mine shared it on Facebook, and after reading it… well, I really wanted to talk about it here.
Here is the link for you to have a read yourself. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/the-real-cause-of-addicti_b_6506936.html
I know several people who are or were addicts of various kinds. My own personal experience definitely supports the conclusions in the article. That being said, I also know that if the new happy world you have constructed starts to slip, and you begin to feel stressed and unable to cope, then it is very simple to slip back into the bad habits of the past. Building resilience to ” the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” is the real key to successfully beating any problem – addiction, low self esteem, stress, anger issues, all of it.
Resilience, persistence, tenacity, call it what you will; It is one of the least lauded personality traits that people can aspire to. In this modern world, ambition, self assurance, even arrogance are rated above sheer dogged determination. Yet, it is the stubbornness which ensures any success at all. It is rare that those who are responsible for the great technological breakthroughs we benefit from made all their discoveries on the first time they tried something. But their determination to crack the problem, meant they kept going until they got the answer. And it is the same for evolution. That first fish to crawl from the primordial ooze was particularly determined to do so. My hypothesis is, therefore, that people who want to move away from addiction and the potential to backslide require this resilience and determination to be successful.
The article talks about how having a good environment and lots of friends helped the rats to stop the addiction to cocaine dosed water. I suppose this is the basis of the 12-step programmes which are out there to assist in breaking addictions – surround yourself with supportive people and keep on the straight and narrow. But one thing the article didn’t touch on was what to do when life throws you an inevitable curve ball. If you are not determined and stubborn, then one dicey letter from a person in authority and you are back on the path to addiction and issues. You seek comfort from the place that has often given you comfort before, be that alcohol, drugs, food.
So, how do you build resilience? If you put in a Google search, you will find there are sundry companies willing to part you and your cash to teach you. It is definitely a skill, and if it is a skill, then you can learn how to do it…. and you can do it yourself.
First, you MUST be positive. The most resilient people are those sorts of people who can see the silver lining in the darkest of clouds. Yes, those really irritating, relentlessly cheerful types. It is worth copying them. I have only been a positivity advocate for the last 4 years, but I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, it has transformed my life. I can cope with life’s ups and downs much, much better than I could before, when I was a negative Nelly. There are days when I just want to put my head back under the duvet and not come out. That is normal. But when I force myself to look around, and see the good in something, it really helps me to get back up on my feet. Take this week for example… I had a job interview this time last week. It was for an excellent job, and I really enjoyed the interview process. I didn’t get offered the job. Was I bummed out? Yes. Of course I was. But… it was the right thing to happen. There was a HUGE amount of travelling involved in the job, plus I would have been working in some pretty dangerous surroundings and there was a lot of stress involved generally. So, from the negative, springs a positive.
The second key to being resilient – live to learn. If you think you have all the answers, yet still see yourself on a path to destruction, then of course you are going to feel really bad, like you have failed. I definitely do not have all the answers, but I am prepared to go and look for them. And I will look in all kinds of places to find them. I am addicted to learning new skills, I love learning new ideas and I adore helping other people do the same. And Google is totally awesome as a resource!
Third thing to do is to open your heart. Now this is a hard one. If you have been hurt before, then this is the MOST difficult part to do, but the theory goes, if you don’t open your heart, then you can’t fill it. So, assuming you have built some walls around your heart for protection, how do you break them down? It is not easy, but a good starting point is just to be kind to people. Smile at strangers on your walk into work or when you are moving around the supermarket. Be aware of smiling all the time (most of us have something of a trout pout when our face is in repose – it is not a good look. Cultivate a smile.) Part of this is also be grateful for the things you do have. This is nicely linked to the first key of being positivity. I am grateful that my house is big enough that I can store food. I have a pantry and I have excess tins and packets. So, once a month at least, I choose some of those stocks and I donate them to a food bank. I am opening my heart to the people who need assistance.
The fourth key to resilience is taking care of yourself. You are your greatest asset. Now, if you are in the pits of despair and suffering with low self esteem issues and all sorts, this is the hardest thing to do, because it is no I am not necessarily talking about bathing in asses milk every day, or using gold plated moisture cream here. I am talking about making sure you are well nourished, getting enough sleep, and knowing when to say enough is enough and getting yourself out of a stressful situation. I am also talking about taking a vitamin supplement and if you are sick, stay at home and get yourself better. To be the best you can be, you need to be on top of your game. The only person who can make yourself healthy and glowing is you. So do it.
And finally, the fifth thing to help you become more resilient, is being able to hold onto some humour. Laugh at yourself. You know those days when everything is going wrong? Giggle at how you juggled with two coffee mugs and a bottle of soy sauce which then hit the floor and splashed your white trousers. Come on… it would have looked humorous. And it is just a stain… it can come out. And if it doesn’t? Well, cut them down to shorts or capri pants or something. There. Positivity, gratefulness, AND humour all in one. When I was working in an office and was struggling with the pressure of work and trying to get things to reconcile and they weren’t, I often used to be heard saying “I really need a pint. Of Gin”. This was my way of laughing about the state of the work day. It used to help be get through it.
On that note, I am off to get a pint. Of tea. Have a great weekend everyone.