The Best Possible Resilient Self / PositivePsychology.com | Positive Psychology Toolkit
Exercise 20 min Client
The Best Possible Self (BPS) is a Positive Psychology Intervention that asks participants to reflect on their best possible future self, picturing that they have achieved everything that they wanted after working hard towards it (Carillo et al., 2019; King, 2001). Research studies evaluating the effectiveness of BPS have shown that this intervention yields positive outcomes on well-being (Loveday, Lovell, & Jones, 2016) and reduces negative affect (Seear & Vella-Brodrick, 2013). While the mechanisms that underlie the efficacy of BPS is not yet well-known, the writing component of the exercise is likely therapeutic, as seen in Pennebaker’s work on expressive writing (Pennebaker & Seagal, 1999). This tool is a derivative of the classic Best Possible Self exercise, where individuals are asked to imagine themselves being their most resilient self, having endured some adversity and effectively bouncing back from it. The idea is to instill a sense of optimism and competency in the individual. Because the exercise is completed with a specific personal challenge in mind, the exercise may help this individual work towards overcoming this challenge.
This tool aims to help clients develop optimism and confidence in their ability to overcome a personal challenge.
- In the writing component of the exercise (Step 3), clients do not need to be concerned about sentence structure, grammar, or spelling. The purpose is to write freely, expressively, and
- This exercise might lead some clients to draw comparisons between their best possible resilient selves and their current “true” selves; clients may conclude that their current self/life does not match this ideal Such a downward comparison might lead to further thoughts and memories about times when he or she did not display resilience.If this occurs, remind the client that for this exercise, we are focusing on a brighter future where hisor her circumstances have changed just enough to make overcoming this challenge possible.
- This tool can be adapted for use with children/young people and people who are uncomfortable with expressive writing by replacing the writing component (Step 3) with an illustrative component so that individuals can draw their best possible resilient self
- Carrillo, , Martínez-Sanchis, M., Etchemendy, E., & Baños, R. M. (2019). Qualitative analysis of the best Possible Self intervention: Underlying mechanisms that influence its efficacy. PloS One, 14(5).e0216896. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0216896.
- King, A. (2001). The health benefits of writing about life goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(7), 798-807.
- Loveday, M., Lovell, G.P., Jones, C.M. (2016). The Best Possible Selves intervention: A review of the literature to evaluate the efficacy and guide future research. J Happiness Stud., 19, 607-628.https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-016-9824-z
- Pennebaker, W., & Seagal, J. D. (1999). Forming a story: The health benefits of narrative. Journal of clinical psychology, 55(10), 1243-1254.
- Seear, K. H., & Vella-Brodrick, A. (2013). Efficacy of positive psychology interventions to increase well-being: Examining the role of dispositional mindfulness. Social Indicators Research, 114(3),1125-1141.
The Best Possible Resilient Self
This exercise involves visualizing yourself in the future after you have overcome a personal challenge.
In the space below, describe a personal challenge that you are facing now, and list, next to each bullet, what makes this situation difficult for you:
The situation whereby is challenging because:
Take a moment to imagine yourself bouncing back from this situation, successfully overcoming each aspect of this situation that you find challenging. Close your eyes with this image of yourself in mind and take 5 minutes here to contemplate your most resilient self.
In the space below, describe the person you saw in your mind—your most resilient self. What did you look like? How were you acting or behaving? How were you feeling? What were you thinking? Take 10 minutes to write about the person you visualized.
Now, if you could interview your best possible resilient self, what would you ask him/her? How would your resilient self respond? For instance, you could ask your future self, “How did you find the confidence to do X?,” and your future resilient self might reply, “I chose not to listen to my inner critic and instead turned to my inner mentor, who reminded me that I can doit because I’ve done it before.” When answering the questions, it may be helpful to close your eyes and try to visualize your best possible resilient self as vividly as possible.
In the left column of the table below, write the questions that you would like to ask your most resilient self. In the right column, write the responses that would be provided by your resilient self. If you have any difficulty coming up with questions, you may consider the list of questions in the appendix.
|Questions to ask to the best Best possible answers offered
possible resilient self by the resilient self
Discuss the following:
- After talking with your future self, how do you feel about the personal challenge you are facing? Do you feel more confident inyour ability to overcome it or more motivated to at least try?
- What were the key takeaways from your interview with your future self?
- What is the one thing that you could do this week to take a step toward overcoming this personal challenge?
Possible questions for your best possible resilient self:
- What strengths did you utilize to overcome this challenge?
- What skills did you use to overcome this challenge?
- What advice can you give me about overcoming challenges like this?
- What did you learn from this challenging situation?
- What kinds of thoughts were most helpful during these difficult times?
- Did you use any positive self-talk? If so, what helpful things did you say to yourself?
- How did you persist when things were really challenging?
- What would you like to have known before undertaking this personal challenge?
- What resources could have helped you?
- Did you call on any social support? If so, who did you ask for help, and how did you ask them?
- Is there anything you would do differently in hindsight?
- How do you feel about yourself since overcoming this challenge?