Finding hope in life isn’t always easy. People who feel like they lost control over their lives or faced a difficult situation may lose all hope. During troublesome times, many people give up and stop trying. The good news is, despite feeling like you lost all hope, you can find ways to build back your feelings of control and hope.
Martin Seligman observed animals that became passive when confronted with challenging situations. He called it “learned helplessness.” Humans, like animals, engage in learned helplessness. There will be times when you feel lost, defeated, or can’t change your environment. The people who love you may not understand why you’re experiencing apathy. They question why you won’t make changes in your life that will keep you on your path.
Yet, what your loved ones don’t understand is hopelessness is an emotion that washes over you and leaves you with a void. A lack of optimism leaves you without motivation or the energy to make an effort to change. Instead of reaching out to others or talking with your therapist, you pull away, fearing disappointment or rejection. However, by not reaching out to others, you create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The causes of hopelessness vary, but all include events that impact your life. Maybe you have witnessed a traumatic event and, since that moment, felt life was unpredictable and hopeless. Next, you can acknowledge you don’t have control over everything. After all, the 12 Steps in recovery ask you to admit you’re helpless over alcohol or drugs. You are powerless, but you then come to believe a Higher Power can restore you to sanity after letting go. Finally, you can break out of the cycle by engaging in positive acts.
Assess the Situation
Take a moment to think about the last problematic situation you encountered – or perhaps you’re enduring tough times right now. How are you coping with stress? Now, look back on how you handled troublesome events before entering a substance addiction treatment program. What were your depression or anxiety relief skills? Finally, think about how you have changed when looking at the challenges you faced and your dangerous behaviors before substance addiction recovery. Facing a substance use disorder (SUD) and entering alcohol or drug treatment challenged you to break free of a life of pain, depression, or anxiety. The coping skills you learned will carry you through the demands of a life free of substances.
After assessing the situation, take a step forward and process your feelings. Envision what will aid you in gaining self-confidence and control back into your life. Talk with your therapist or share your feelings.
Ways to Find Hope
There isn’t one way to find your faith or hope. You can explore your options until you discover a routine or act that restores your belief. Some possibilities to restore hope are:
- Creating goals: A clearly defined plan gives purpose to your life. Defined goals are measurable. To make measurable goals, write down describable steps. You should be able to see where you’re going and how you will reach that point in your life. Don’t be afraid to change the steps, if you find it necessary.
- Open yourself up to love: The people who love you want to help you. Share your desires with them and give them the chance to aid you in reaching that goal. Ask for help.
- Educate yourself: Knowledge is power. Spend time learning about the difficulties that come with an SUD and recovery. When you know what challenges you could face, you can confront them.
- Hope is giving: Give your time, talent, or passion to others. Invest in helping others who can benefit from what you have to offer. Acts of giving or kindness engage you in building hope for others and yourself.
- Find a role model: You’re not the only person who faced adversity. Find others who overcame the tests in life. Whether you read, talk, or hear about their stories, use their experiences to guide you in your journey.
- Take a step, take action: If you’re in despair, take a step out of your routines. Start small when you begin to divert from harmful practices. Then, instead, do what you can do. For instance, get up in the morning, cook a meal, or have a conversation with a friend. Then, as your feeling of hope increases, add another action.
- Find your faith: Spiritual faith can guide you back to thoughts and feelings of hope. Faith is a powerful source of support because you realize a higher power is with you. If you find yourself questioning your faith, reach out to a person in your faith whom you respect, and talk to them.
- Be mindful: The tendency to let your mind wander is normal. However, allowing yourself to dwell on the past, traumatic events, or situations that didn’t work out can increase the risk of feeling hopeless. Instead of looking back, practice mindfulness.
There will be times when you think you have nothing left to lose. Situations or people may appear to be conspiring against you. Yet, even when you feel you don’t have control over your life, there are ways to find hope. An internal step in finding hope is to admit you’re powerless and let go of unrealistic expectations and the past. Release your mind of toxic thoughts by practicing mindfulness techniques. Focusing on the present also helps you engage in acts of kindness, pursuits of education, and set clear goals. Find support in your substance addiction treatment center’s alumni groups. Reach out to your therapist and involve your loved ones in your recovery. Renaissance Ranch Treatment Centers provides the support and care you need to face the challenges once you complete substance addiction treatment. Our Band of Brothers Alumni Program builds a foundation of recovery that integrates all parts of your life. To learn more about us, call (801) 308-8898.