In tough circumstances hope can be elusive. In recovery from addiction it is pivotal.
The balance between personal responsibility and a healthy lifestyle is lost in addiction as unexpected challenges and poor coping strategies lead to unsatisfactory outcomes. The ability to manage difficulty situations diminishes because mind-altering substances (toxins) affect the brain’s capacity for clear thought and reasoned thinking. In time the inability to find solutions, coupled with low self esteem erode any expectation that life can get better. When addiction robs individuals of the ability to manage difficult situations, hope fades.
Some find it easier to have hope than others, but remaining optimistic while entrenched in a sub-culture of poverty, stigma, discrimination and homelessness is a struggle most succumb to the more addiction strangles their lives.
There are libraries of text books and academic tomes espousing the most effective therapies for any condition that ails mankind. There are even programmes and manuals that spit out best interventions for whatever scenario has been punched into the computer. And all those ‘helps’ and knowledge are useful – to a certain extent.
Speaking about the benefits of recovery to someone who has lost hope is a fruitless endeavour. Better for that person to catch the thread of hope and from there build a recovery pathway.
When I have backed off a seemingly ‘hopeless case’ and taken the alternate route the results always amaze me (slow learner alert). So beyond books, is hope. Hope is found in our experiences, people who share our lives, people we admire, achievements of the past, feelings of control over our lives.
Hope opens the door to the future and the possibilities out there.
It is the catalyst to recreate a broken life.
Hope helps to regain a sense of personal responsibility
as one breakthrough builds on the next.
It is the foundation of confidence and self-esteem.
It lifts and holds and carries and flexes.
Hope does not give in or give up.
Hope loves and nurtures.
Hope is not expectation. Hope focusses on the positives around us, those breakthroughs. Hope keeps going in the face of disappointments (unrealistic expectations) when people let us down (as the invariably will). As a community worker there are times when the most proven therapies fall flat on their faces. These are the times to throw away the text books (happens frequently) and begin to rebuild hope.
Some of the ten items below have been helpful in my years as a counsellor to promote the discovery of hope.
1. Try to keep focused on the good things that are happening in your life and in the world. Savour and celebrate them.
2. Don’t let set-backs and disappointments with people derail you. Put them into perspective and keep going.
3. Spend time with people who are positive and who have hope. It does rub off. Laugh and hope with them.
4. Don’t panic when things go wrong. Try to keep a clear head and strategically do the things that will help solve the problem and restore
hope for others in the team.
5. Learn to accept the things that you cannot possibly influence or change. Serenity Prayer
6. Don’t spend time with people who do not fill your emotional tanks. Spend time with balloons (those who lift you); avoid rocks (those who drag you down).
7. Invest your hope into things that have a real future. Be realistic about what you hope for. (SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-limited)
8. Have a variety of things that you are working towards. Not everything will happen at once.
9. Resist hopelessness. Reframe unhelpful thoughts. (I’ll never beat this addiction: I am making small changes every day, there is no evidence that says I will never do this. I have done it before and I can do it again).
10. Every night journal four things for which you are grateful (find positives in every day).