Working With Resistance in Mental Illness Recovery

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Working With Resistance in Mental Illness Recovery

When it comes to recovery from substance abuse, mental illness, and creating any change in your life in general, you will probably encounter resistance.

Although resistance can often be uncomfortable and destabilizing, learning to work with resistance rather than against it is essential to your continued healing and recovery.

What Is Resistance? 

Resistance is part of the Stages of Change model and a natural part of the growth in all areas of life. You can expect to experience resistance any time you create changes in your life, even desired changes that lead to holistic wellness, recovery, and healing.

You can experience resistance at any point, and you will probably encounter it more than once as you are creating changes in your life and taking the steps needed for recovery and healing.

Symptoms of Resistance

What resistance may look like in your life is often the same as what self-sabotage may look like for you.

For instance, perhaps you have started a fitness routine only to stop two weeks later, just as you were beginning to create the new habit of working out. Or, maybe you are in recovery from a substance use disorder (SUD), and you feel tempted to resort to old patterns just as you are beginning to lean into new ways of being and acting.

Think about a time, past or current, when you were just beginning to create change in your life only to find yourself falling into old habits. Ask yourself the following questions:

What was happening? 

What did this look like for you? 

What did you do about it? 

Being aware of your old vices is the first step of beginning to work with resistance rather than letting it define and control you.

Leaning Into Resistance

The scariest thing about resistance is the way it feels in your body. However, you may not be aware that feelings of physical discomfort will accompany the Stages of Change until you slow down in moments when you are tempted to resort to old behaviors as an attempt to lean out of growth when you must lean in.

Embracing feelings of resistance can be done by beginning to understand what you feel when resistance rears its head and where you feel that feeling in your body.

Ask yourself:

When do I encounter resistance? 

What am I feeling when I am experiencing resistance? 

Where do I feel this in my body? 

Naming what you are feeling takes power away from the feeling itself and allows you to begin leaning into resistance, and working with it, instead of leaning out.

Normalizing Resistance

Resistance is a common and natural part of being human. You will experience resistance every day. Through normalizing this experience and even allowing yourself to expect it, you can begin to understand how resistance works in your life and how to move forward with it.

Resistance is a natural part of healing, growth, and recovery from mental illness. Without it, the change would not be possible. At Avalon Malibu, our team recognizes resistance as a common response to change, and, in our treatment programs, we explore how you can work with resistance rather than allow it to lead to self-sabotage in your recovery. You will also be in a comfortable environment and among peers who support your recovery and healing. To learn more, call us today at (844) 857-5992.

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