“One of the things I learned the hard way is that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.” – Lucille Ball, American comedienne, film, television, stage and radio actress, known the world over simply as “Lucy” (1911-1989) We often find ourselves staring in the face of adversity, not knowing where to turn but plagued with uncertainty and fear of failure. For some of us in recovery, especially if we’re in early recovery and/or have suffered through chronic addiction before finally getting treatment, hope may seem to be in extremely short supply. In fact, we may not believe that hope is even possible for us, given our past behavior and our current circumstances. But this is a new day. That’s what should be first and foremost in our minds. We’re not the same person we were yesterday or last week or during the deepest part of our addictive past. We’ve made tremendous progress just getting here to our current state of sobriety. We’ve committed to staying sober, to doing the best that we can to maintain our sobriety, and to moving forward with our lives so that we can achieve some measure of peace and serenity. Okay, that all sounds good and we may even believe it. But this still doesn’t mean that we can conjure up hope when we don’t believe we’ll ever have it. How can we begin to believe that hope is possible for us, given how dismal a prospect that may seem? Here are some suggestions. First, it’s important to note that each day we are clean and sober we are racking up achievements that will make our recovery stronger. We’re gaining in self-confidence which a prerequisite to having the ability to feel hopeful. Look at it this way. We tackled some item on our recovery to-do list, perhaps an action step required in order to achieve one or another goal that we’ve set for ourselves. Once we achieve success in this action item, we are able to move on to the next one on our list. Or, we could realize that there is a new opportunity that presents itself, one that we were only able to identify in the course of taking that first action step. Thus, self-confidence increases and we’re able to extend our horizons a bit farther. This, in turn, helps engender hope. Second, recognize that life is comprised of a series of opposites. Not every day will be all of one or the other. In other words, it isn’t possible for our life today to be completely bad or negative or filled with failure and lack of accomplishments. We will do something today that benefits our recovery, however small and seemingly insignificant that may be. Remember that each step we take, each act that we perform that we put our entire hearts and souls into, helps firm up our recovery foundation. Again, the more we do, the stronger we get. The stronger we get, the more likely we are to experience hope for our life in recovery, and for our future prospects as well. Third, hope is an equal opportunity belief. It can come to anyone, regardless of how desperate their past or despite their physical and mental condition, socioeconomic circumstances, race, religion or gender. Thus, we don’t have any reason to believe that we’re disadvantaged and not capable of experiencing hope. The key, however, is to give ourselves permission to recognize hope and to believe that it is possible for us. For some of us in recovery, this is a stretch assumption. That’s because we may have had very little or no experience in our past with hope and cannot fathom how it could ever be something we feel. Fourth, from utter nothingness and blackness of spirit often can transform into a fertile breeding ground for hope and promise. When we come from a dearth of feeling and gradually our emotions return and we again begin to feel the stirrings of pride in our accomplishments, in camaraderie with others, in joy in everyday activities, we are on the mend and becoming stronger in our recovery foundation. It is as if we have summer at the root of all that winter we’ve suffered through so long. All it takes is for the sunshine to start shining through, to make its way into those dark corners and illuminate them with light – the light of hope. Fifth, when hope begins to surface, or resurface if it’s been gone for a long time, it has a tendency to perpetuate itself and to grow by leaps and bounds. The promise of hope is an energizing fuel that helps us to take on ever more challenging goals, to grow and experience successes that we never before believed possible. This is the best way to restore faith in ourselves that we may have lost somewhere along the way.