The word hope is described as an optimistic feeling or anticipation of good things to come. Pessimists refer to hope as being idealistic or unrealistic. Try for a minute to live your life without any hope. You can compare life without hope to turning a vibrant, colorful photograph into a black and white picture right before your very eyes. So, how do you tell someone who has experienced a recent traumatic event in their life or loss to be hopeful? Well, you don’t in those circumstances, at least not right away.
To feel hopeful again, you must experience the five stages of grief & loss: denial & isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance (Axelford, 2017). In the acceptance stage, hope arises like a new spring, bubbling over with anticipation that life can return to some kind of normalcy. Sometimes, the pain we went through may hold purpose to help others become hopeful again. The point of the grieving process is to go through and not get stuck.
Accounting for my own personal experience, I remember going through a traumatic event in my life. As far as I was concerned, everything I built and anything I could possibly hope for came crashing down in one fateful night. As I did not know what hung in the balance for my future, I went to a friend and told her, “I do not think I can go through this anymore.” Her response, “If you feel like this in a year, come talk to me.” What she was saying and what the Twelve Steps groups refer to, “This too shall pass.” My friend was right. I have turned my pain into purpose and the reason why I can sit and write about it today.
Sometimes we place our hope in a Higher Power and expect the best outcome. What if the result is not what we expected and we become disappointed. At this moment, we must keep the channel of expectancy open and trust something better is on the horizon. Unfortunately, we may not always find out the reason why something bad happens or someone was taken from us unexpectedly. During this time, the best we can do is go through the grieving process and in time look for the purpose in our pain.
As always, never give up on hope. The moment you turn anger into bitterness and unforgiveness, loss into ungratefulness, and fixated on problems instead of solutions, you have turned hope into hopelessness. Psychologists Martin Seligman and Steven F. Maier coined the term, learned helplessness. If you are subject to repeated adverse stimulus, you will not recognize an escape route, even if one is presented to you (Cherry, 2017). That is why it is so important not to get into a fixed mindset of negative thinking and self-talk. If being hopeless and helpless becomes a pattern, you will need to take the necessary steps to break free from the cycle.
Three suggestions to becoming hopeful again:
Allow yourself to go through the grieving process. This may be the time to reach out to supportive friends and family members. Also, it takes a strong person to ask for help and go to counseling or a Twelve Step Program. Find people you can relate to. If a counselor or group is not working for you, try a different one. You will not be the first in recognizing one shoe does not fit all.
Read positive books, listen to uplifting music, watch inspirational movies, and have positive conversations with people. Go on a media fast and evaluate the people in your life. Chances are if you are in a learned helplessness and hopelessness state, you have surrounded yourself with like-minded people. Break free from the misery.
Find yourself. What is your life purpose? If you suffer from low self-esteem, find ways to raise your confidence. Knowledge, in itself, is powerful; breaking free and finding a new way to live is about taking action. Always!
Henceforth, never give up on hope and hope will be your friend in the darkest hour and shine through in your victorious moments. By making one change in your life, you will find hope and a reason to live and begin again. Life is a journey, but without hope, it becomes a desert. Find your oasis in hope.
Song by Jill Andrews, “Get Up, Get On.”
Axelrod, J. (2017, February 19). The 5 Stages of Grief & Loss. Retrieved October 09, 2017, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/
Get Up, Get On [Recorded by J. Andrews]. (2015). Retrieved October 9, 2017, from http://mp3red.cc/25855767/jill-andrews-get-up-get-on.html
Kendra Cherry | Reviewed by a board-certified physician. (2017, June 24). What Causes Learned Helplessness? Retrieved October 09, 2017, from https://www.verywell.com/what-is-learned-helplessness-2795326