Hopelessness v. Hopefulness
It’s easy to feel helpless, hopeless, and unmotivated on the journey of sobriety–and of life. Often, these types of negative emotions are connected, and becoming aware of their source can help you climb out of the dark hole of hopelessness into which you might have stumbled.
According to one psychologist, Luis Muiño, who hosts a popular psychology-based podcast in Spain, hope may be just about everything for human beings. Many mental health care professionals even go so far as to classify unstable mental health as hopelessness and stable mental health as hopefulness.
So what’s the secret to moving from instability to stability in mental health? Dr. Muiño suggests the following:
- Embrace the impermanence of life
Nothing in life–good, bad, or otherwise–lasts forever. As someone in addiction recovery, you may have cravings or even relapse after days, months, years, or decades of maintaining sobriety. But cravings don’t last forever, and neither does relapse. Work difficulties and family drama won’t last forever, either–or at the very least they’ll be speckled with gratifying moments. Our pain and our happiness are both temporary, and this can be an excellent grounding point when we feel like things are spiraling out of control.
- Remember that you can choose
Even if you’re feeling strong in sobriety, other situations, such as professional, social, or personal crises, can make you feel hopeless. Hormones also play a large role in the fortitude of mental health. But the power of choice is always yours, even if the choice isn’t clear at first. The choice may be to change your attitude, to switch around your daily routine, or to get professional psychiatric or therapeutic help.
- Trust and hope are synonyms
We don’t have to pretend that life is all roses and rainbows, but we do have to trust that life will balance itself out. The laws of physics dictate that what goes up must come down and vice versa. When we trust that things will even out, we automatically invite hope back into our lives. This hope translates to a trust in ourselves and in the natural laws of the universe.
Connecting with Hope for Your Sobriety
So, what does the research say about these suggestions? Quite simply, connecting with hope increases the chance of staying sober longer. So how can you connect with a feeling of hope? An article by Dr. Diane Dreher in Psychology Today suggests the following steps to take:
- Manage stress
When we react immediately to triggers, we release stress hormones that can influence how hopeful we may feel. To combat the automatic release of stress hormones, practice taking a 90-second pause when feeling triggered. This pause often reduces the amount of stress hormone the body manufactures.
- Invite happiness into the equation
Make your life conducive to happiness and hostile to stress. Happier environments comprise commitment to healthy routines, adequate sleep, and regular participation in activities that bring us joy. Rest, both mental and physical, is a huge element here.
Break all your goals into small, realistic intentions. Don’t insist on finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in the middle of a thunderstorm. Make your objectives realistic and malleable.
- Use challenges as validation
Take stressful moments as an opportunity to utilize all the tools you’ve learned throughout this post. Your successes will build trust in yourself and your environment, while your failures will prepare you for later success.
- Create a network of hope
This may be the most important of all the advice today. Without a group to support and ground you in your sobriety and personal progress, so many of your triumphs and struggles can’t be shared or normalized. Make it a priority to find a healthy community to vent and have fun with!
Are You Experiencing Hopelessness? St. Gregory Is Ready to Help
At St. Gregory Recovery Center, we build our community upon several key values:
Primarily, we want to encourage honesty and instill in everyone within our community that no one is perfect, failure is a part of life, and that’s okay. Being honest about your feelings, shortcomings, disappointments, and desires is normal and necessary as you reconnect with hope this winter. Don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about our community and get your hope back today!