How Having Hope can Foster Healing
Hope is essential in the healing process in so many ways, and its powerful effects are backed by science.
It has the ability to open your mind, lift your spirits, and give you the resilience needed to address deep-rooted issues.
Additionally, hope gives you courage and allows you to form trust with sponsors and therapists.
According to Dr. Janice Post-White, “Healing is purportedly the restoration of health, the process of making sound, well or healthy again. Achieving a cure is often perceived as a synonym for healing.
In this context, hope is a very powerful ally in the treatment of disease and restoration of health. It is. Evidence is mounting for the interconnectedness between the mind and the body. Thoughts and emotions involve a complex interaction of hormones, neurotransmitters, cytokines, and immune and neural signals, all of which influence physical responses of the body.
However, hope provides much more than physical healing. Its power lies not in the direct ability to cure or to achieve whatever goal we hoped for, but in the process of reaching for the goal, hope sustains life.”
Having hope when you’re struggling with addiction
If you’re struggling with addiction right now, it’s hard to imagine that your life could be any different than what it currently is. Addiction has a powerful, sneaky way of infiltrating your concept of what’s possible for you.
The truth is, regardless of how deep in you currently feel, your addiction can be treated. Your case is not hopeless, and you are not hopeless. So many people have once felt hopeless in their addiction, only to go on and find recovery.
People across the globe whose lives have been completely shattered by addiction have been able to heal and rebuild their lives to a place even better than it was before. At their core, those people are no different than you are.
Regardless of who you are or where you’re from, you can cultivate hope and experience healing.
You can get better.
Regardless of what you’ve done or what mistakes you’ve made, you’re still worthy and deserving of living a beautiful life. Hope and healing is available to you. All you need to get better is that desire to get better and the hope that it is possible. Everything else will be learned along the way.
With this in mind, allow yourself to find hope in whatever moves you. Some people find hope in the lives of people they look up to. Others find hope in their family and friends. Some people find hope in the dream they want to achieve one day. Others find hope in the joy of experiencing the little things in life.
Hope is an extremely powerful mindset for a person to have when facing any life-threatening illness, and that includes addiction.
Having hope when you’re struggling in recovery
If you’re in recovery, you likely experienced a point on your journey, probably very early on, where you felt motivated and hopeful. This hope will have lead to an initial period of healing and growth. Maybe you saw yourself getting sober, and living your life in a particular way. Perhaps you felt that once you stopped using drugs and alcohol, things would instantly change.
As time went on, you may have discovered that recovery is more complex than you initially thought it would be. It probably didn’t take long for you to realise that ending substance use was just the beginning.
The emotional and mental rollercoaster that you go on through recovery can feel impossible to get through at times. Sometimes you find yourself coming up against brutally painful emotions, and you wonder how you could ever get past them.
The truth is, motivation comes in waves. Therefore, you won’t always feel motivated to stay actively engaged in recovery. You won’t always feel motivated to take care of yourself. If you rely on that feeling of motivation to keep you on track, you’ll find yourself stuck in a cycle fueled by bursts of motivation and pits of hopelessness. This will keep you stagnant and inhibit you from really moving forward.
When showing up is half the battle
Showing up can be half the battle, so even when you’re not feeling motivated, show up. Whether that means going to meetings, going to therapy, spending time with friends, or even getting yourself to the gym or going for daily walks.
Remind yourself that there’s nothing wrong with you if you aren’t feeling motivated, and it doesn’t mean you’re failing. It simply means you’re human! Everybody experiences waves in their emotions – what’s important is that you stay committed anyway because what you have to gain is worth so much.
When you’re facing difficult emotions, know that that’s completely normal, too. Again, you’re human! You are going to feel sad, disappointed, and lost sometimes. You’re going to feel angry and upset sometimes. This doesn’t mean you’re broken. This is part of your experience as a human. The flip side of this is that you’re also going to experience excitement, joy, and passion sometimes. You’re going to experience peace, contentment, and awe sometimes.
Part of the deal of being human is that you have within you a full range of emotions that you’re capable of experiencing. There is nothing inherently wrong with you for feeling difficult emotions. Everyone in recovery has also faced every difficult emotion, and has learned how to get through them without the use of substances. You have this ability to face tough emotions and get through them, too.
The byproducts of hopelessness
Having hope can facilitate your healing. On the flip side, hopelessness can keep you trapped in your addiction.
It can hold you stagnant in your recovery, and can even lead to relapse.
If you’re struggling with depression, feeling caught in the downward spiral of hopelessness can keep you drowning in a dark and empty place internally.
Below are a few of the byproducts of hopelessness, according to researchers:
- Low mood
- Inability to accurately perceive yourself and others
- Increased risk of suicide
- Increased chance of engaging in risky behaviour
If you had the option to choose, would you rather feel hopeless or hopeful?
The good news is, you do get to choose. Your beliefs and your thoughts are your choice. You can fall victim to the intrusive, unhelpful thoughts in your mind or you can choose another option. Having hope or not having hope is always a choice. Being hopeful or hopeless are both feelings that are ultimately being driven by your own thoughts.
Finding inspiration in recovery to foster hope and healing
If you’re in recovery, you may be getting down on yourself. It may feel impossible to sustain, or maybe you feel awful emotionally and feel like things will never get better. However, it is entirely possible to sustain recovery and to experience mental and emotional freedom and joy. It is possible for things to get better. Sometimes, you just need to tap into some inspiration to be reminded of that.
Look to other people who have already accomplished what you’re trying to accomplish. Find someone whose story resonates with you. This can be someone famous, someone in your recovery meetings, or someone that falls anywhere in between. Know that if they did it, you can do it too. The person or people you look up to for inspiration don’t necessarily have to be in recovery, but perhaps they can be someone who overcame the odds and you feel deeply connected to them.
The truth about your heroes
Sometimes you may find yourself thinking that the person you’re looking up to is special, and that they had some sort of insider secret that allowed them to achieve and maintain sobriety.
You may see them and think they haven’t struggled, and that their road to recovery has been smooth and seamless.
You need to know that this is absolutely not true. No matter who it is you’re looking to for inspiration, know that their road wasn’t easy, just like yours hasn’t been easy. Everyone is human and everyone faces difficulties, regardless of what their life may look like on the outside. The road to recovery is truly filled with bumps and challenges, but the life waiting for you on the other side of it is more worth it than you can even conceive right now.
Remember, the person you’re looking up to is no more or less special than you. They, too, are figuring it out as they go, learning more and more about themselves, just as you are. They’re also facing challenges and stressors and learning how to get through them. When you’re looking up to someone as inspiration, don’t weaponise them against you by comparing. Know that they have faced the challenges you’re facing and because they had hope, they were able to achieve their goals.
Finding meaning in your life to foster hope and healing
Research shows that finding meaning can help you foster hope and healing, and allow you to envision a new future for yourself. If you’re feeling hopeless, you may also be dealing with feelings of emptiness or apathy. Finding meaning can help you feel full and alive again, and can innately foster a sense of hope within you.
Finding meaning looks vastly different for everyone. It may also look vastly different than what you thought it was supposed to look like. You may have gone your whole life believing that crossing off the check boxes of society’s expectations would help you feel fulfilled. Some people do find meaning in their school or work. They do find meaning in getting married and having children.
However, life goals aren’t the same for everyone, and different things prompt different people to feel fulfilled and purposeful. In recovery, you get to really look inward and discover who you are. Take the time to figure out what truly makes you feel joy, and follow the calling of the things that make you feel good. Whatever gives you meaning doesn’t have to look like what gives other people meaning. All that matters is that you lean into what speaks to you, and allow that to give you hope.
A final word on hope and healing in recovery
If you’re struggling to cultivate a sense of hope within you, finding a community of like-minded people who understand what you’re going through can truly make all the difference in your outlook. Recoverlution is here for you to offer support, guidance, education, and a community of people who know what it’s like to be where you are. We offer meetings as well as Circles on various topics to help you stay connected and foster the hope you need to keep moving forward.
As an added note, if you’re struggling with prolonged feelings of hopelessness, please reach out to your therapist, counsellor, or a loved one. If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to a helpline via phone or text, and be sure to seek the help you need.
We have a page within our Knowledge hub that lists the resources of help available in the UK
Remember, it does get better, and you are not alone.
Author - Thurga
- Exploring hope and healing in patients living with advanced non-small cell lung cancer - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25158655/
- Hopelessness research - https://hopefulminds.org/hopelessness-research/
- How hope affects healing - https://connect.springerpub.com/highwire_display/entity_view/node/79612/full
- Help for suicidal thoughts - https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/feelings-symptoms-behaviours/behaviours/help-for-suicidal-thoughts/