By Haley Kennedy, Recovery Coach – 11.5.2021 –
We use and hear the word “hope” all the time. We hope for the best, we hope someone has a good day, we hope something works out. It’s a little world that plays a big role and can often be the difference between giving up and holding on. Hope is often what encourages us to believe and keeps us pushing towards a better life.
For those of us who have experienced substance use disorder and are on the road of recovery, hope plays a significant role in our commitment to our work, our healing, and our recovery. But why is it so important, and how can we remain hopeful, especially if we’ve been through exceptionally difficult experiences?
Early on in recovery, it can be hard to express the complex emotions we experience, especially if they seem contradictory or confusing. Speaking to our hope can help us acknowledge and express the full range of what we are feeling. I’ve found that pairing the contradictions can be helpful — “This hurts, but I’m hopeful. I’m not going to give up.” Because having hope or being hopeful does not mean we are denying the harsh reality of the world, only that we are moving through the world with a lens of hope.
Holding onto hope reminds us of our goals and dreams. What are you working towards? What do you hope to accomplish? Reflect on what is truly working in your life. Do those things make you hopeful for the future?
Hope is healing in that it can hold space, encouragement, and optimism for the future. While we might be frustrated about one area of our lives, we can still hold out hope for our long-term goal(s). For example, we might be exhausted by the recurrence of our substance use disorder, but we’re holding out hope that once we have found recovery and have stability, we will have ourselves back, and will experience a beautiful new life. A life where anything is possible. Or maybe we decided to go back to school, and despite the incredible demand and the temptation to quit, we are staying hopeful for graduation, and know the sacrifice will be worth it.
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 or in our recovery, hope keeps us on track. Hope creates the environment where we know we can reach our goals.
Think back on how much you’ve overcome in your life. What kept you holding on during those times? What guided you through the difficult days? Was it a hope that your strength, courage, or determination would get you through? Take time to reflect on the beacons of hope in your life. Who/What inspires you? Who/What gives you hope for the future?