What is hope?
Hope is having a positive or favorable expectation on the outcome for one’s life or circumstances. All people have the capacity to exercise hope; however, finding hope is not always easy. Hope is a feeling or desire that can be cultivated, but it also takes intentional practice to grow.
Hope is mirrored in your belief systems and is one of the building blocks for a successful recovery. It informs you that you will get better, that you are strong enough to pull through, and that you will succeed in your recovery journey.
The Importance of Hope
It may be hard to think of positive outcomes for the future when facing the present day is challenging. Know that whatever difficulties you are experiencing, life can and will get better. Hope is a powerful tool, but it is not a magic cure-all for life’s problems. It allows you to see your current challenges and the possibilities to overcome them.
With hope, you can begin to plan and set goals for yourself. It provides a foundation of motivation and helps you to understand that you can achieve the goals that you set. Hope is such an essential part of recovery that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administrations (SAMHSA) rates hope as one of the “10 Guiding Principles of Recovery.”
Signs of Hopelessness
Without hope, it is hard to have the motivation to improve or change your current situation. Finding your way to being hopeful is a process. It is not unusual to first combat feelings of hopelessness and then begin learning how to approach life with a new, positive outlook for the future.
Whether you are just reaching out for help, are in your initial stages of a treatment program, or even suffering from a relapse, thoughts of hopelessness may overtake you. It is common to not even realize that what you are feeling is hopelessness. It may be hard for you to communicate the ways in which you are struggling.
To better understand hopelessness, it can be identified as the struggle for someone to believe that their circumstances will change for the better. To help you identify if your friend, loved one, or peer is experiencing hopelessness, here are a few signs that may signal that the person needs help:
#1. Self-deprecating talk:
- “I am a loser.”
- “I’m beyond help.”
- “I’ll never get better.”
- “There’s no use, I want to give up.”
- “I don’t think I’ll ever be happy.”
#2. Emotional cues:
- Signs of depression
- Feelings of anxiousness
- Severe fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping
If you believe someone is feeling hopeless, a few ways you can begin to help them include:
- Have a conversation: Ask them how they are feeling and if they are OK. Keep your focus on your friend and actively listen to what they have to say.
- Be there: Let them know that you are there for them no matter what they may be experiencing.
- Assist them in finding help: Although you can be there for your friends or loved ones, remember that you are not their therapist. Help them find the right professionals or support groups that can begin to help them on the road to recovery.
Ways to Develop Hope
Hope is developed within, individually. You are responsible for your own health and well-being. However, you do not have to go at it alone. Building a community of family, friends, and peers that will support your journey can help stimulate and foster hope on your recovery journey. Some examples of how to begin developing hope can include the following:
- Be present: Accept where you are at this moment in your recovery process. Being present can seem hard when going through difficulties but facing your fears and accepting your circumstances will help in setting realistic goals for the future.
- Support others: At times when you feel it is hard to have hope for your future, supporting others in their recovery can be a way to help build a hopeful outlook for your future. Do you have a friend, family member, or peers celebrating milestones or victories? Help them celebrate and use their stories as motivation that you can also experience joyful moments in your future.
- Positive affirmations: Write down positive affirmations about yourself and what you are going through. Affirmations will help combat feelings of hopelessness and self-deprecating thoughts you may have. Affirmations can be phrases such as “I am having a successful recovery.”, “I am strong.”, “I’m getting better every day.”, etc. Incorporate affirmations into your daily routine, repeating them a few minutes a day to build confidence and inspiration to keep moving forward.
Developing hope and maintaining hope is a process. Start with incorporating small steps of developing hope into your daily routines and be sure to seek professional help if needed.