Keeping Hopelessness at Bay During Recovery

The United States is trying to open again and resume some sense of normalcy, but there is still so much uncertainty. For you, the whole idea of returning to work and activities under these pretenses may feel premature if not forced — forcing you to operate under the guise that everything is back to normal. You don’t know what to do or who to trust and the feeling of hopelessness is pressing upon you. You may begin to think that nothing you do matters, so what’s the point?

But there is a point to all of this. It’s not about you appeasing or pleasing employers, or about succumbing to ignorance just because the ignorant are louder — it’s about finding meaning within yourself first so you can make meaningful choices.

If this means continuing to operate under a stay-at-home schedule or not going back to work until you feel comfortable, it’s time to learn how to listen to and trust yourself so you can transition out of feeling hopeless and into feeling necessary. Then you can manage your life and recovery on your terms.

Express Doubt

When a sense of hopelessness manifests, it is normally a result of having recurring thoughts of doubt. This is a waste of time or This will never work out are just a couple of thoughts that will create hopelessness. Soon, the reinforcing of these thoughts becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and you find yourself feeling hopeless.

Try to express doubt — not doubting the situation or choices you are facing, rather, doubt the feeling of hopelessness. You have been wrong before, so this idea you have that everything is hopeless is wrong, too.

When you can admit you are wrong and accept doubt in this way, one germ of thought could be all that it takes to experiment with thoughts of encouragement. Approach each situation with the intent to prove your hopelessness wrong.

Try Something New

More often than not, what accompanies the feeling of hopelessness is the belief that you have tried everything to change the situation. You should understand that no one — not even you — has tried everything. Certainly, your efforts should not be belittled. You might have tried 10 or even 20 ways to change your behavior.

However, it might not be the actual act but the execution of the act that has not worked for you. For example, you seek therapy and attend sessions regularly, you nod to the advice and exercises given, and even feel better for a little while after — however, a day or two passes and you are back to feeling hopeless. You start to think that you are somehow different, that therapy does not work for you. Be honest and ask yourself, are you allowing therapy to work?

Where most fail to utilize therapy is by showing up, but not putting the advice or exercises into practice. Attending the session is not enough. You need to go beyond the session to enact change. If you are not doing this, then it’s time to start and give therapy another try. Instead of complaining, reducing, or deciding that something does not work, turn these thoughts into accepting that there will be discomfort and trial and error — and that ultimately, this will be good for you.

What is Essential?

Life goes on — it happens before an event, and it will happen after an event. You might become wrapped up in a certain time or place and begin to identify who you are based on that moment. When you assign meaning to these ideas, they support your feeling of hopelessness and that this idea or thing is essential.

However, because life continues beyond this feeling, you should, too. You would not arrive at the same feelings over something trivial. It’s raining today and I can’t go out and garden, so all the plants will die — what’s the point? You know how silly it would be to adopt this idea just because it is raining. Instead, you would probably counter the disappointment of rain with Tomorrow is calling for sun, so I will garden then.

This kind of logic should be applied to any situation, including recovery. Certainly some things feel more important at the time, but nothing should be viewed as essential to determining if your life has meaning or not. What is essential is learning from experience that you can overcome any situation. You lost a job, but you found something better. You drank or used drugs, but today you are sober. There is always something to lend hope and motivation.


Hopelessness often occurs because you are constantly thinking in terms of what you can and cannot do. Volunteering can help you to realize that you do matter. Volunteering can also lead to new friendships and a stronger connection within your community.

When you help others, you adopt a sense of leadership that gives you direction and motivation toward being a proactive problem solver. Given the current situation the world is facing, you might wonder how you can volunteer. There are many food banks and charities that are accepting donations, not just money but food and/or clothing.

You can volunteer by delivering food to those who are more at risk of traveling outside their homes. Finally, there are many virtual volunteer opportunities where you can help in a big way from the safety of your own home. You can also look locally for opportunities to volunteer during this time of crisis.

Focus on the Present

Where most become hopeless is when they begin to accumulate thoughts, and these thoughts present a future that makes them overwhelmed. This might result in you wanting to fix everything at once, but your recovery has taught you that big changes occur from a series of small victories.

Stay in the moment and focus on the task at hand, break the task down into smaller tasks, and then focus on completing these tasks. For example, you need a job because you need income. Instead of pressuring yourself to find something overnight, first focus on creating a strong resume, then building a network, then begin to apply.

These small stepping stones will support the process and add to your confidence in helping you make better decisions.

Hopelessness can unravel any quality of life, and render your recovery non-existent. These thoughts and behaviors occur over time — given the current situation, they may be further amplified and your sense of hopelessness might be stronger than ever. If you cannot elevate your thoughts above these feelings, it’s time to get help. True Recovery offers 24/7 support and believes in the practice of alternative care, an approach that can help you discover the treatment that is right for you. Don’t continue to feel helpless when there is hope. To learn more, call us today at (866) 399-6528.