Just about every reasonable person wants to improve their chances to succeed at their goals. Protective factors can be likened to the armor a soldier would wear in a battle. The stronger the protective factors, the better the chances of successfully getting through difficult struggles in life which would include being able to effectively cope with a substance use or mental health issue. Consider the following three stage process for identifying and enhancing protective factors which help us stay out of harm’s way and help us to keep up the good fight for self-improvement and positive change:
Inspect – verb: to look at something closely to assess its condition or to discover any shortcomings - It all starts with looking at or inspecting your own situation. If you can be honest with yourself about where you stand today, then that opens the doorway to self-improvement. Try to take an objective look at your situation with a view toward strengths and also potential weaknesses which will lead to an accurate inspection of what positive things you have to work with, and which areas you need to work on.
Reflect – verb: Think deeply and carefully about - This requires more honesty and insight. After you have done a self-inspection of your strengths and areas of need, then it is time to honestly reflect on what you are willing to do at this time. For example rather than just saying that you will work on all of your issues at once, it is better to reflect and think about just a few important areas that you are willing to get started with. Questions for self-reflection such as “What am I willing to work on now?” and “What am I not ready yet to change” can help you identify which areas to focus on. Start with what you are ready to work on
Protect – verb: to cover or shield from exposure, injury, damage or destruction - One you have identified a few areas that you are willing to work on then it is time to get a plan started to protect yourself in these areas. What can you do to increase these identified protective factors in your life? It’s worth the effort
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