When we finish a treatment program, we’ve begun to build the foundation for our recovery work, but we will need to keep up with it consistently if we want to have lasting results. One of the most important elements of that foundation is the emotional work we do to restore our faith in ourselves and our capacity for healing. Our addictions did a number on our self-esteem and caused us to lose our sense of self-worth. It’s up to us to rebuild our sense of self and rebuild our faith in ourselves. With all the challenges we’re facing in recovery, it’s so important to maintain our hope.
Without holding onto hope, we’re far more susceptible to relapsing because we’re filled with self-doubt rather than conviction. We doubt our resilience and our strength, and when we don’t fully believe in ourselves, we leave room for temptation to grab hold of us and overpower us. We’re much more empowered to resist addictive urges and compulsions when we have faith in ourselves. Our hope is what we can cling to when we feel overcome with sadness, worry, anxiety and self-doubt. Without hope, we leave ourselves vulnerable to our changing emotions. Hope is what helps us navigate all of the difficult thoughts and feelings that arise during the recovery process.
One way we can help ourselves maintain hope is to forge connections with people who can help uplift us when we’re feeling down on ourselves, defeated and losing the will to keep going. The friends we make in treatment, our loved ones who have stayed by our side throughout our recovery, and members of our support groups can form the community we create for ourselves. They can inspire us with their own success stories and help remind us that recovery is in fact possible for us when we start feeling doubtful. We tend to isolate ourselves when we’re struggling with our addictions, when we’re depressed, and also when we’re recovering. We isolate for a number of reasons – out of fear of being judged, out of shame for our past mistakes, out of anxiety around being with other people. Sometimes we want and need to be alone, and that’s healthy, but too much isolation can exacerbate our feelings of hopelessness, along with our depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. When we’re alone too long with our difficult thoughts, we can start to lose touch with reality and find ourselves dealing with overwhelming, even irrational thoughts. Other people can help pull us back to a sense of normalcy and help us regain our balance, stability and groundedness.
Our network can help remind us how strong we actually are, when we’re feeling weak and disheartened. The recovery journey is full of ups and downs, moments of weakness and trepidation, times when fear overtakes us. We can start to feel disconnected from ourselves. The people around us can remind us of who we are when we feel like we’ve forgotten. They can sing our praises and remind us of everything we have to be proud of, including all the hard work we’ve done thus far to recover. When our hope is slipping, we tend to focus on the negative. We dwell on our mistakes and the times we’ve relapsed in the past. Our minds turn to our regrets and feelings of shame. The people who love and support us can help turn our pessimism and cynicism around. They can help direct our thoughts back to the positive. We shouldn’t think we need to face our recovery alone. There is strength in companionship and community. We’re stronger when we help one another.
Another way to maintain our hope is to actively take inventory of all the successes we’ve had. Making the choice to finally get help and enter treatment is a huge win for us. It’s evidence of our strength and resilience, our belief in ourselves, and the faith we have in our future. Let’s write down all our accomplishments on a regular basis. We can include this as part of a journaling practice, along with a gratitude practice where we list the things we’re grateful for. We can include all the things we’re grateful for, not just in our lives but within ourselves as well. What are some reasons you’re proud of yourself? What attributes do you have that are admirable? Start praising yourself more. Commend yourself for your efforts. Even just trying every day is a huge accomplishment. Every day that we don’t give up on ourselves we should be proud of ourselves. Getting out of bed when we feel depressed is a huge success. Being there for a friend who is struggling is a reason to be proud of yourself. Supporting someone else’s recovery while undergoing your own is a reason to be grateful for yourself and your empathy and compassion. Everything you can think of to be proud of yourself and grateful for is a reason to hold onto hope. Write these things down every day, read them regularly, and use them as reasons to celebrate yourself. Return to your list any time you feel your hope slipping.
A great way to instill hope in ourselves is to repeat affirmations that retrain our minds to think with positivity and faith. “I hold onto my hope. I have faith in myself. I am positive. I am strong. I am resilient. I am brave. I believe in myself. I am healing.” We can reprogram the conditioning of our subconscious minds with repetition, so the more we repeat our affirmations, the more we’ll impact our thinking to have the hope necessary to make meaningful, lasting change in our recovery and in our lives.
Riverside Recovery is a drug and alcohol treatment center offering a full continuum of care for people suffering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. We understand the emotional challenges of addiction recovery and are here to support you. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.