Resilience Programme: Best Possible Self

Resilience Programme: Best Possible Self

To support students with self awareness and the language to identify when things are difficult we have recently started a resilience programme during tutor period. This consists of 4 weekly reviews and activities that the students are encouraged to do from this week until the end of term. This week we are looking at 'The Best Possible' self. You can find the other activities here.

The Best Possible Self

The Best Possible Self otherwise known as BPS is a Positive Psychology exercise that asks people to reflect on their best possible future self, picturing that they have achieved everything that they wanted after working hard towards it. Research studies evaluating the effectiveness of BPS have shown that this yields positive outcomes on well-being. While the mechanisms that underlie the efficacy of BPS is not yet well-known, the writing and thinking component of the exercise is likely therapeutic. 

In this exercise people 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 competence.

Have a go at the exercise. It is made up of 4 parts and involves visualizing yourself in the future after you have overcome a personal challenge.

Step 1: Describe a challenging situation

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:

  • __________________________
  • __________________________

Step 2: Visualize your best possible resilient self

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.

Step 3: Describe your best possible resilient self

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.

Step 4: Interview your most resilient self

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 do it 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.

Table for BPS work

Step 5: Reflection

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 in your 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?

We hope that you enjoy doing these activities together and the discussion that comes along with them. Please remember that there are also additional resources available on the school counselling site to support students and families.

Author: David Slade, Vice Principal (Our Students), Secondary Campus

Week beginning Reviews and Activities
14th June Part 1. The Resilience Scale
21st June Part 2. The Best Possible Self
28th June Part 3. The Resilience Plan
5th July Part 4. Benefit Finding


Possible questions for your best possible resilient self:

  • What strengths did you utilise 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?