When I have faced problems in my life, I do what I can to keep hope alive. It helps me stay more positive and feel that I can find a solution.
So what is hope?
Charles Snyder explains, “Hope is a positive cognitive state based on a sense of successful goal-directed determination and planning to meet these goals. In other words, hope is like a snapshot of a person’s current goal-directed thinking, highlighting the motivated pursuit of goals and the expectation that those goals can be achieved.”
I know I lost hope at times when I was concerned about my child.
And yet, we all need something to keep us going in the darkest times. We need to have faith that things can change for the better.
Hope can give us the incentive to hang on a little longer when our son or daughter’s substance use keeps us stuck. It helps us feel more optimistic in the most challenging of times. We can face our struggles with less stress.
In addition, we need something to keep us going when we desperately want something to change. It gives us one reason to keep moving forward with an uncertain outcome.
While you cannot control every aspect of the future, believing that your child will recover from their substance use is helpful.
According to Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D., “The person who has hope has the will and determination (to make sure) that goals will be achieved, and a set of strategies at their disposal to reach their goals. Put simply: Hope involves the will to get there and different ways to get there.”
Hope can give you the incentive to hang on a little longer when you feel stuck, and the outcome is uncertain.
Here are some ideas to help you keep hope alive when you are feeling the challenge of your child’s drug or alcohol use:
Accept your reality.
Substance use is a terrible setback. Yet, with any problem, you can accept it, learn from it, and grow. Consider where you are with your anxiety, fear, anger, and feelings of helplessness. Denial keeps us stuck, so be clear with yourself about the problem. Make space for the problem, and then you can begive working on it.
What do you want to change? Acknowledge your reality. When you know where you are today, you’ll be able to move forward to a better tomorrow.
The more you can look at yourself and see what you want to work on; your child will be better off. At the same time, permit yourself to feel your pain around the situation without creating additional shame or anxiety. The pain will still be there, but your suffering will be less.
You may find yourself pausing between accepting and resisting the problem. Check on yourself regularly to see how you feel and what you need to help you process everything.
Acceptance does not mean that your life will be like this forever or that you can’t put things in place to create change. It also doesn’t mean you endorse your child’s behavior. Instead, you recognize that you can’t change what is happening today. Yet, you can still look forward to a brighter tomorrow.
Substance use is not an easy place to be for any family. When I addressed the problem head-on and was proactive, I felt less anxious and overwhelmed.
Life keeps leading us on journeys we would never go on if it were up to us. Don’t be afraid. Have faith. Find the lessons. Trust the journey today. ~ Angel Chernoff
Work on solving the problem.
Pretend for a moment that you do have the ability to create your ideal world. That would be so nice, wouldn’t it? How would you be feeling and behaving? The only thing you have control over is yourself at this moment.
Take time to think about what you want. You most likely want your child to stop their substance use. Take time to look at your child’s situation with fresh eyes and an open mind. Go deeper and get clarity about how you want your life to be different.
It’s easy to jump in and want to fix the problem. Rather than do that, take a breath and take time to find yourself. Keep that goal in mind as you move forward. We all need a roadmap so we know where we are going. Getting through substance use with your child is no different.
Hope can be a motivational factor that helps a person take action steps to achieve long-term goals. You will have more resilience to handle any obstacles that may come up.
Problem-solving so that you can achieve your goals can help. When you set an objective to solve a problem, you should include each step necessary for success.
- Define the problem as narrowly as you can.
- Brainstorm possible solutions.
- Eliminate unwanted ideas.
- Select one possible solution.
- Identify possible obstacles.
- Address each obstacle.
- See how things go.
- Lay the foundation of self-care.
If you can’t take care of yourself, it’s hard to help anyone else. Dealing with a son or daughter struggling with addiction (whether in recovery or not) can be an emotional, physical and financial drain.
You can find yourself exhausted before getting out of bed in the morning. Hit the pause button from time to time and check in with yourself. If you’re feeling depleted, take a couple of deep breaths to clear your head and recharge.
Think about what you need to fix within yourself to support your child best. Work to get your life as balanced and focused as it can be. Of course, your child’s substance use is harmful, but things can begin to change when you are a positive force.
Author Carole Bennett states, “When I was going through a particularly difficult time in my life, distressed over my loved one’s addiction issues and questioning career decisions and my marital choice, I found a mantra that I would repeat as many as 50 times a day, six little words that helped me out of many a woe-is-me, pity-pot state of mind: ‘I’m working toward better days ahead.'”
He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything.” ~ Proverb
There are many ways to help your child. Some are more traditional, and some are research-based. Include all options so that you have the resources that make sense.
Studies have shown that when you approach your child’s substance use with positivity, optimism, and hope, your chances are greater that your child will be willing to change. Your son or daughter is using substances because of some trauma or pain that they are feeling.
I have found it helps to talk to your child and understand what they are going through. Acknowledge what your child is doing well. Allow your child to take responsibility for their actions.
You must know that there are options for helping and supporting your son or daughter struggling with addiction. The advice given too often is that we can’t help our children.
People may tell you that tough love is the only way, and we must let them hit their bottom. This black-and-white cookie-cutter approach must change. Each child, together with their family, brings a different dynamic. Each family is unique.
The key is to keep hope alive.
Hope is one of the essential concepts you can use to help your family move forward.
As David Sheff states, “Don’t give up hope on someone you love — there is always hope. There is always hope for someone until there isn’t. While there is hope, it’s our job to do anything we can do to get somebody we love into treatment.”
Don’t let your feelings of despair push you to depression and helplessness. During this challenging time, you need hope more than ever.
Hope will help you get from where you are now to where you want to be. It is the vehicle that will make a difference.
Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.” ~ Laini Taylor
There are about 45 million people affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Many are now in recovery. Know that your child can change their life as well. They can join the millions who have turned their life around with meaning and purpose. It happens one day at a time, one step at a time.
I have found that a new path unfolds and I can be hopeful about that.
When we have hope, anything is possible.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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