How to Hope Again after Losing All Hope
Imagine how great it would feel if, after swimming under water for a full minute, you came up and gasped fresh air.
The new oxygen of which you had been deprived would refresh you as a cool sprinkle of rain on a hot summer day.
Prefer to listen?
Even though oxygen is essential, we usually use it without realizing it. The only time we truly notice it, is when it’s gone.
Hope during hard times is like oxygen. It is absolutely vital. We cherish it. But we feel it most when we lose it. That’s when we realize how important hope really is.
And when someone we love uses and abuses drugs or alcohol, we start trying to help. At the beginning, we have hope. Our love and trust for the person give us confidence in their ability to change. But when change doesn’t happen, promises get broken, and we pay the price for someone else’s decisions, hope can abandon us to face the trial without it.
But going through a trial without hope would be like trying to live life without oxygen.
So, we understand we must have hope. But what about those of us who lost it? How do we hope again after losing all hope?
Let’s explore this question together. We will start with an analogy to make our point clear.
Let’s suppose you brushed your hand against busted wood and got a splinter in your skin. The pain is irritating. You could take a Tylenol to help with the pain. But ultimately you would still be hurting. Why?
Because you addressed the effect without addressing the cause.
To remove an effect, we must remove the cause.
So, let’s now ask ourselves. What caused us to lose hope?
If we dig deep, we’ll see that consistent failure on the addict’s part to change (over and over again) resulted in pain. That pain, over time, caused us to give up hope.
Unfortunately, we cannot address the addict’s behavior because it is up to that person to change, not us. Therefore, to attack the cause of lost hope, we must address the pain that caused us to lose it.
This is the question that now becomes essential: How do we address that pain in order to regain hope?
The only way to do this is to forgive the people involved in the situation that caused the pain because forgiveness is more about us than the person who hurt us.
That is why unforgiveness is like drinking poison thinking the person who hurt you will die from it. The only person who truly suffers in this case is you. Forgiveness, on the other hand, does not excuse the person’s behavior. But it does free you from the pain that stole the hope you needed to survive.
With that said, we must now ask the next million-dollar question: Who do we need to forgive to regain hope?
Well, the obvious answer is the addict who hurt us. But what if that’s only half the picture? What if there is someone else we’ve been needing to forgive this whole time, but have yet to realize who that person is?
May we suggest that the person you now need to forgive is yourself?
Too often, we allow ourselves to feel guilty. We take on responsibility for the addict’s choices. And then we get angry with ourselves for doing this.
That causes pain and resentment, which over time, steals our hope.
To hope again after losing all hope, we need to forgive ourselves.
And here are the 3 important parts to doing so.
1. Give Up Ownership
Here me when I say this, this is not your fault. Too often we assume responsibility for the actions of another human being that are beyond our control. When we decide to own someone’s else’s poor decisions, we take the guilt of those actions upon ourselves.
It’s time to give up ownership of other people’s choices.
2. Give Yourself the Right to Be Wrong
When we hear promises, we often believe that this time it’s going to change. Then we realize we were wrong.
Have you ever, for example, thought these thoughts?
I’m so stupid for trusting him again.
I knew I shouldn’t have believed her.
Why do I keep trying when he’s not?
If so, the guilt of being wrong in your judgment of the other person’s decision to change can cause personal resentments against yourself.
It’s time to give yourself the right to be wrong.
3. Give Yourself Permission to Love
Ultimately, we are called to love. Even when it hurts. Even when promises are broken. And it is okay to continue loving someone who keeps messing up.
Sometimes, we feel like we’ve done something wrong by believing again, trusting again, and hoping again.
But we haven’t. We actually shown our character. Our commitment. Our strength through times of adversity.
It’s time to forgive yourself from the guilt of doing something that was good for you to do in the first place, that being, loving someone through their circumstances.
The truth of the matter is that pain, over time, stole our hope. To get it back, we must address the pain. And the only way to truly heal from the pain is to forgive ourselves and release from us the responsibility that was never ever ours to begin with.
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