What Hope Is (& What It Isn’t)
Hope is defined by Mirriam-Webster as cherishing a desire with anticipation; wanting something to happen or be true. It’s markedly different from simple positive thinking because it requires a clear understanding of the obstacles you’ll face along the way. Just as drugs and alcohol affect the mind, beliefs and expectations release neurotransmitters and affect your brain chemistry.
Hope isn’t a wish, or an attitude, or a feeling. It’s the determination to take control of your life, believe in a better future, and take action in order to achieve your goals.
Why is Hope so Important for Recovery?
Deanna Daniels, LMFT, explains her view of hope by saying, “Hope opens doors and has the power to sustain us through the most difficult of times and circumstances. Having the ability to look forward keeps us moving forward, and hope plays an important role in this process.” She goes on to state that when people lack this, their problems begin to control their destinies.
When you can clearly see your circumstances, analyze how you got to where you are, and begin to make plans for a brighter future, you are living an authentic, hopeful life. Author and scientist Shane J. Lopez, Ph.D., believes that hope can be learned. He explains that this value boils down to four key beliefs:
- The future will be better than my present.
- I have the power to make it so.
- There are many paths to my goals.
- None of them is free of obstacles.
5 Tips for Keeping Hope in Addiction Recovery
It’s one thing to understand what hope is, but keeping it alive in your day-to-day life takes dedication and commitment. We’ve put together five key tips for staying grateful and positive. If you’re feeling overwhelmed…
- Listen to stories of hope. The more positive stories of recovery you surround yourself with, the more possible it feels to stay sober. By attending meetings and listening to old-timers explain how many days they have – and how radically getting sober has turned their lives around – you’ll feel inspired and renewed.
- Connect with a sober community. It can be easy to feel alone in your sobriety, especially if your old friends don’t quite understand what you’ve been through. This is why it’s important to get involved with a sober support network. Attend AA or NA meetings, plug into your treatment center’s alumni group – whatever it takes to make you feel like you’re supported and heard.
- Visualize your sober self. Take a moment to think about how far you’ve come since your days of substance use, and then imagine what the future holds. This exercise reinforces your drive to stay sober and creates an aspirational goal to work towards.
- Be kind to yourself. Nothing tears down hope faster than rumination, self-loathing, and perfectionism. If you hold yourself to harsh standards and don’t focus on maintaining positive self-talk, it’s incredibly challenging to succeed in recovery. Instead, talk to yourself the way you would a dear friend.
- Make a list of things you’re grateful for. Gratitude is an incredibly beneficial daily practice. Each night before you go to sleep, write down the parts of your life that you’re grateful for – bonus points if you reflect on how getting sober has brought these things into your life!
Your Partner in Recovery
At Segue Recovery, we understand that leaving addiction treatment is the first step in your sober journey. We offer a wide variety of long-term aftercare and support services to help you keep hope alive in recovery. Our staff is available 24/7 at 1-866-905-4550.