Hope is the ability to look forward to something with the expectation of fulfillment. It is the belief that something is survivable and that, no matter how difficult things are now, they will work out. Some people seem to have a natural tendency toward hope. Others seem to choose optimism. It is possible to learn how to look forward with a certain amount of hope, or, as the cliché goes, fake it until you make it. As time passes, faith in the brighter side of life gets easier.
Why is Hope Important in Recovery
In the beginning, recovery is daunting. Things can easily become overwhelming. In the midst of our illnesses, we spent all of our energy on finding the next fix. We convinced ourselves that the only way we could cope with the world and the people in our lives was with the help of drugs or alcohol. As the illness progresses, the substances are less and less effective. Things become darker and darker. By definition, addiction is a downward spiral and the further into it we get, the harder it is to see a life worth living.
Hope gives us the strength to step forward and make the decision to achieve a healthier life. Hope is more than just an emotional state. It provides us with the energy to push forward, to do the impossible. When we look forward to our sobriety, hope will keep us on track. Each step forward, each day sober, make the next step, the next day more and more possible. Hope creates an environment where we believe we can reach our goal.
How to Develop Hope
In the beginning, we need to build hope in order to take the first step toward a healthier life. For many people living with addiction, hope does not come naturally. It is a choice. So, when we slip or make a mistake, it is easy for us to despair. If we are kind to ourselves, it is more likely we will get back on track. Kindness is not making excuses. Instead, it is looking at our lives, taking responsibility for our actions and reminding ourselves of the successes. When things go wrong, instead of surrendering, a kinder way might be to look at what we learned, what skills did we use to get as far as we did and what skills we might need to learn to be more successful next time. Forgiving ourselves and stepping back to see what happened instead of blaming and punishing ourselves or surrendering, builds the belief that we are more than our mistakes and failures.
Many of us forget to do the small, kind things that help build hope. Rather than wait for a slip or fall, we need to build in the moments that build hope into our daily lives. We need to take breaks and recharge ourselves. If we make a habit of sitting for a while listening to quiet music or drink a cup of soothing tea, we develop skills that make it easier to get through those moments when things seem impossible. When we have these skills, we can trust that we have the grit to do what needs doing, no matter how hard.
Another tool helpful in finding hope is to make each day a gift. In recovery, we often hear the phrase, “One day at a time.” There is nothing we can do about the past or the future. All we can do is take control of this moment. In our addictions, many of us have done things that require repair and making these repairs is important. However, it is equally important to approach this with an attitude of thankfulness. In sobriety, we have the opportunity to make amends. We have the chance to restore damaged relationships. These are opportunities we did not have when we were using. This is a gift. If we approach these moments with shame or dread, it makes it harder to avoid defensiveness and easier to make excuses to avoid doing the right thing.
This is not to say that we should not acknowledge the feelings. Feelings are feelings. They happen and we have very little control over them, but when we look at each as a gift, we can experience our feelings without allowing them to overtake us. If we maintain a sense of gratitude, we become stronger and doing the right thing becomes a habit.
Hope is more than just an emotion. It is a motivating force. It is the reason we get up in the morning, the reason we succeed in doing the unlikely and the difficult. If you or someone you love is dealing with addiction’s hopelessness, get help. It is a complicated and difficult road but it can lead you to the happiness you deserve.
Fort Worth Recovery, we understand the intricacies of addiction and mental health, are trained in a variety of modalities and have worked with many people over the years to fight their addictions and build hope. Call us today at 817 382 2894 or visit us online.