Hope, an Incredibly Powerful Medicine in Recovery

Posted on June 24th, 2012

"There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something tomorrow." – Orison Swett Marden, American writer associated with the New Thought Movement (1850-1924)

Has it ever seemed as if someone we know has an immediate future that looks preordained, that catastrophe and tragedy are surely to follow like thunder after a lightning strike? Has it also ever occurred that, despite what looked to be an inevitability that person’s fate turned out to be anything but what looked like a certainty?

What could account for such a dramatic turnaround? Some of this could very well be attributed to hope, for no doubt hope is nothing short of miraculous in what it can bring about, despite and sometimes because of all odds. How can this be?

For one thing, philosophers and practitioners of medicine have known for centuries that where there is hope, there is the potential for healing. Where there is hopelessness, there’s just the opposite. That’s why recovery experts – medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, behavioral therapists, social workers and peer associates alike – encourage everyone in recovery to cultivate hope.

There are sometimes no medical reasons why one person heals and another does not, given similar circumstances and other factors. Think of it this way. If someone tells you that you’re going to die tomorrow, how does it make you feel? Likely as not, if you’re prone to automatically take as an irrevocable truth what someone tells you, you’ll begin to feel weaker, to literally envision your body draining of energy and life force. You won’t have any incentive to keep on living, since your death is inevitable on the morrow.

On the other hand, if someone encourages you to live life in the present, to maximize your potential by going after your dream goals, how does this make you feel? For many people, the answer is that they’re filled with a lightness of feeling. They cannot necessarily pinpoint how they feel as full of hope, yet that’s exactly what is going on. There’s a belief that things will get better, that the person will feel better, and be better.

That hope is very much self-fulfilling, just as its polar opposite, hopelessness, is self-fulfilling.

The key, then, is to learn how to develop an attitude that springs more from hope than dread, to look for positive signs of progress instead of pointing up errors and mistakes we’ve made or will make.

Keep in mind that this feeling of hope comes from within. It isn’t anything that we get from someone else or that we can expect to just be there for us. We have to believe, truly believe, that we deserve to heal, to prosper, to get well, to be successful and healthy and happy.

Even then, we may not achieve all those things, but we will be optimistic about our prospects. And having a positive outlook is the cornerstone to our overall healing, physically, psychologically and spiritually. How else can we explain someone who’s in their advanced years, perhaps wasting away from cancer, yet stilled filled with a profound appreciation of and zest for life? Hope is more than miraculous, if there indeed is anything beyond a miracle. Hope is something that can never be taken for granted, must be cherished and nurtured and celebrated.

In addition, by being hopeful and acting in accordance with our belief that life can be better because of our actions today, we can demonstrate to others the power and mystery of hope. While we cannot gift hope to another, we can show by our actions that we live in the spirit of hope. That in itself is very transformative to others. It shows others that there is reason to persevere, even in the face of difficulties.

Try it today. Cultivate a sense that one thing we do today will lift up our hearts, fill us with a feeling of having done something good and well, something that will benefit our recovery in all aspects. Go into our actions with full energy and enthusiasm, even if it may be painful to do so, even if we’re afraid that we might not succeed, or we’re worried that we don’t know enough to make it through. Have hope and keep right on doing the things we know we need to do to help heal ourselves and strengthen our foundation in recovery.

There’s just no medicine like hope, never has been, and never will be. Best of all, hope is free, and the most valuable gift we can give ourselves. Before we toss out the concept as something that could never work for us, give hope a try. Really get into the process of learning how to believe in good coming out of our actions today. Then, put our resolve to work and follow through by doing what it takes to get where we want to go.

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