Hopelessness can be an intense emotional barrier that is prevalent throughout one’s recovery journey. For some, hopelessness can result in feelings of depression and self-criticism. Others may experience it as a disheartening feeling of defeat or inability to achieve one’s sober goals. While such overwhelming emotional turmoil is a difficult barrier to overcome alone, the effects of hopelessness can also compromise many other aspects of one’s recovery. Understanding hopelessness and the myriad of effects it has on an individual is paramount for creating a direct recovery strategy to address this common barrier to recovery.
What Does Hopelessness Feel Like?
Hopelessness can be tricky to define as it can present a bit differently for each person. However, feelings of hopelessness are often incredibly overwhelming, sapping the motivation and energy from an individual on a daily basis. Those who are feeling hopeless may experience a chronic feeling of fatigue or exhaustion, coupled with a detached, apathetic outlook on their daily life.
Hopelessness can also make an individual feel as if there is no point in trying to accomplish their goals, making it easy to lose track of one’s sober ambitions or plan for the future beyond the current day. Others may experience a feeling of creeping doubt in themselves or their surroundings. This all works to make an individual feel as if they are stuck in time, not making progress towards their goals or relationships. Encompassed by a great deal of self-doubt, an individual can end up feeling paralyzed in their journey to sobriety or sober identity.
What Causes Hopelessness?
Hopelessness can have a number of causes that need to be addressed in order to be overcome. For some, hopelessness can manifest as a symptom of one’s depression. Others may experience hopelessness as a result of setting unrealistic, unfair expectations and goals for themselves in their recovery. This can include expecting to be done coping with cravings only just after a detox program has concluded. Lastly, hopelessness can also be the result of intimidating, overwhelming feelings of change in one’s life, coupled with an inability to exercise their desired level of control.
How Hopelessness Affects a Person
Feelings of hopelessness can affect a person in a number of ways beyond just creating an air of apathy and exhaustion. Those who are suffering from a hopeless mindset can be incredibly susceptible to criticism. They can even develop an unfair, self-critical mentality surrounding their hobbies, identity, or overall progress in recovery. This altered perception of oneself can then permeate into a very pessimistic worldview.
Others may struggle to employ their previously practiced coping strategies to deal with urges or ground themselves during feelings of anxiety, depression, or stress. Hopelessness can also cause an individual to compromise their own self-care strategies. Some may develop isolationist tendencies as a result of the false perception that their actions or relationships are fruitless or pointless. This can leave an individual to compromise their own ability to maintain a healthy, sober mind.
The Dangers of Hopelessness
Hopelessness, aside from the intense emotional stress it can present, can also lead to further dangers in one’s recovery journey. If an individual does not see their own recovery or goals as achievable, it can be very easy to relinquish the idea of recovery entirely. This can potentially cause the regression back to previous, destructive behaviors. Relapse can be even more prevalent, and depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders can go unaddressed. Unfortunately, this may create a complicated and difficult hurdle in one’s recovery path.
Dealing With Hopelessness
Hopelessness is often the result of a person feeling like they have “plateaued” in their recovery. While this can happen at any stage in one’s journey, it can have extremely detrimental effects if unaddressed. It is best to plan for these feelings as early as possible in one’s recovery.
Proper goal setting can be the most important part of dealing with hopelessness. Setting simple daily or weekly goals can be a great source of motivation and success. Writing down one’s goals and checking them off may be beneficial for many. Keeping a journal of each time an individual has worked through a craving, tried a new hobby, or developed a meaningful relationship, can both work as a record of one’s progress. Objectively viewing past successes can reinforce one’s motivation and counteract feelings of hopelessness.
Keeping a balanced diet is also important, as it can directly help an individual maintain better mental and physical health. Coping with hopelessness is exhausting, and it is necessary to have the energy to tackle such a difficult emotional time.
Lastly, getting with supports and trying something new can be a way to interject an element of change into one’s day, helping to break through feelings of apathy. Attending a movie, playing mini-golf, or going on a walk together or with a pet can all help get an individual moving and reintroduce self-care as a daily priority.
Even the most effective coping strategies and support systems can be difficult to maintain in the face of hopelessness. If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction or are processing through trauma or mental health disorders, Everlast Recovery Centers can help you today. We understand the difficult and nuanced journey of recovery and are prepared to take a personalized approach to your own strategies and recovery goals. We can help you create a program that reinforces your strengths and goals while addressing vulnerabilities, all working to help you cope with any feelings of hopelessness. Our homelike atmosphere provides a safe and accepting space to become part of a supportive community where you can try a number of new therapeutic approaches. For more information on how we can help you or to talk to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, call us today at (866) 388-6925.