How to Build Hope in Recovery.
by Maurine Anderson
Hope is an important part of our recovery
If you’re recovering from addiction, it’s highly important that you develop a habit of hope. Sometimes when new habits and stress management techniques fail, hope can be the only thing that keeps you going on the path to sobriety until you’re able to get back on track. But how do you maintain hope, especially at a time when you can easily get bogged down by stress, cravings, negative self-talk, and more? Here are some ways the help build hope during recovery.
Keep a journal.
Try keeping a journal throughout your recovery journey—particularly one of the successes that you are making, no matter how small they may be. This gives you a concrete record of past milestones to look back on during those times when you might be losing faith in the future of your recovery.
It can also help to keep a journal that documents both the hard days and the easy days of your recovery. Over time, you’ll likely see that the periods of hardship grow shorter and shorter, while the periods of “good days” expand. You’ll also observe that even after the worst days in recovery, there were successes that followed—meaning that one low day isn’t going to define the entire future of your recovery.
Participate in group therapy.
As this article suggests, group therapy can actually work to instill a sense of hope in its participants. Addiction recovery groups are often comprised of people at various stages of recovery, and those who are just beginning their recovery journeys can glean hope by observing those who have spent many more months—or even years—in successful recovery.
Connect with others online.
In addition to attending group therapy, it can also help to seek out inspiring stories from other fellow recovering addicts online. Reading about the successes and triumphs of others is sure to instill hope in your own recovery. If they can do it, why not you?
Explore your spirituality.
Many find hope during recovery by deepening their religious convictions or by spending more time in spiritually-oriented meditation. Looking at the bigger picture can help put the hardships that come in proper perspective, and leaning on a higher power can help you to confront your weaknesses as a human being without being consumed by them.
Practice positive affirmations.
Positive affirmations are repeated, uplifting expressions that work to instill optimism by impressing the subconscious with a motivating idea. They are typically short, easy to remember, and in the present tense. You might look in the mirror and vocally tell yourself “I am worth it” five times every morning, or you might repeat “I am stronger than my cravings” whenever cravings strike. Positive affirmations will help you build hope by instilling self-confidence about your ability to handle recovery.
Keep setting goals.
Planning ahead is a key aspect of a successful recovery because it keeps you focused and engaged in positive activities during recovery. Setting goals should be a central part of this planning. Regularly set goals for yourself during your recovery so that you consistently have milestones to look forward to. You might, for example, make it a goal to attend all of your recovery meetings for six months. Or, you might make it a goal for the next month to write in your journal whenever you’re experiencing cravings. Choose tangible goals that you can successfully check off and that you can celebrate reaching, and try to create goals that will help you overcome your weaknesses.
Remember the “why”.
Similar to regularly setting challenging, yet achievable goals for yourself, it’s important to consistently keep the “why” of your recovery at the forefront of your mind; this will help you keep an eye on your future rather than on your past.
Maybe the future of your family is your primary motivation for becoming clean, or maybe you’re mostly committed to bettering your health. Staying out of legal trouble, mastering your finances, and improving the relationships in your life can also be “why’s” behind your recovery from addiction. It can help to keep a tangible reminder of your “why” somewhere where you will regularly see it—a photo of your family in your wallet, a link to your online banking account on your computer’s desktop, or a scriptural verse on your bathroom mirror, for example.