One of the most essential ingredients to recovery is staying hopeful. This might include believing in your ability to stay sober. This might also mean having a vision for your life in the future that includes health, well being, and sobriety. Having hope can prevent feeling depressed, lost, beaten down, and confused. Knowing where you’re going and how can create a sense of meaning and hope in your life. And this can facilitate your recovery.
- Use Affirmations – Research indicates that our bodies and the brain respond to the thoughts we have. It’s as though our whole system is listening to the thoughts we have. What’s remarkable is that we have the power to replace old thoughts with new ones. And one way to do this is to begin to repeat certain, clear thoughts to ourselves. These are called affirmations. Below is a list of affirmations to consider, adapted from a list provided by Michael Bedillion. Choose one that speaks to the core belief you’re attempting to change and then repeat in your mind as often as you can.
I am a good person.
I am intelligent.
I put all negativity behind me.
I am loved.
I have many talents.
I am blessed.
I have confidence.
I am not a victim.
I have a wonderful life.
I look forward to each new day.
I no longer feel the need to control others.
I will be who I am.
I affirm my worth and goodness.
I am a loving person.
I am a strong person.
I am a friendly person.
I am a capable person.
I am not alone.
I am emotionally calm.
I respect myself.
I feel happy.
I am at peace with myself.
I am a responsible person.
- Read the stories of others. Reading about the challenges of others and how they turned their life around can be incredibly inspiring. It can lift our spirits and give us hope that it’s possible to change. What might be even more inspiring is to find a story that is similar to yours. Read about how that person changed their life despite the odds, and let that story fill you with possibilities for a different life.
- Set goals for yourself. Sometimes, when you have a vision and you can lay out a plan to bring that vision to life, you create more hope in your life. When you can see that it’s possible, when you recognize that all you need to do is reach one small goal after another, then it might begin to feel like more and more of a reality. Sobriety, for instance, which might at first feel like an impossible achievement becomes reachable with small goals. As they say in the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) community, “One step at a time.”
- Examine your resources. If you know that you’re short on cash, time, or friends that might facilitate your recovery, then you can create a plan to get to where you want to be. At the same time, with a good examination of your resources you might realize ways that you can use what you already have to achieve what you want. For instance, you might not have lots of cash, but perhaps you have lots of friends who care greatly for you. You might solicit your friends to check in on you once per day to make sure that you’re staying sober. In other words, you can utilize your resources to work for you. Realizing that you do in fact have what you need can also inspire hope. Furthermore, it’s not just your physical resources, but your intellectual, emotional, and spiritual resources can also inspire hope.
- Accept your losses. One of the things that often hold people back is the past. Feeling wounded or defeated can zap out hope almost immediately. However, if you can arrive at a feeling of acceptance, allowing the past to be as it is, then you can move on. You can create that list of goals and the vision you want to bring to life. By accepting the losses or defeats in your life, you can let it all go and focus on the future.
Hope is an essential ingredient for change. If you believe and feel hopeful that you can make a change in your life, you will.
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