“Hope means that we must trust and wait for what is still unseen.” -Romans 8:24
What is hope?
Hope is defined as trust, desire, expectation, thinking that it could happen.
Yes, hope at times can be overused, but look at the reasons why. Hope in the future tense can help when the present becomes unmanageable, overwhelming and stressful. Hope is sometimes the only thing that can motivate us to persevere through whatever life is throwing at us.
Let’s think about this…
Say you recently experienced a divorce. This might leave you feeling anxious, depressed, vulnerable, confused, and scared. After experiencing these emotions, it may leave you feeling completely helpless about your situation. So then, hopelessness sits in. You begin to doubt your ability to overcome this life transition because you feel so trapped by your own thoughts and feelings. But then, lets say, you meet another divorcee. She shares with you that she was once in your shoes, but she was able to overcome her pain. She then told you with time and a bunch of self compassion, self-care and a wonderful support system, she is now living a happy and full life. After hearing about her growing pains and her ability to overcome one of the most challenging life changes, you begin to change the way you feel about your situation. More importantly, you begin to think differently about your situation. Maybe you begin to desire what she has, think it could happen, trust the process and expect that only good things can come from this.
What are some benefits of hope?
Well, first things first. Hope creates a positive mind frame. When we begin to think that things can improve and growth can happen from the situation at hand, we begin to think more positively. Thinking more positively leads to feeling happier and gaining control of our situations. This is when we might start looking at exceptions to our situations and accepting what is.
Secondly, having hope helps our ability to problem solve by applying healthy coping skills. This might look like taking a deep breath before reacting to a situation from our emotions. This will allow us to think more logically when making decisions.
Thirdly, hope can help us learn from our situations. Stagnant growth does nothing for us. It keeps us stale and stuck. When we’re able to learn from our situations, we grow.
So now what?
To start incorporating hope into your life when feeling helpless and hopeless, talk with others who have had similar struggles and we’re able to overcome their situation. They defined their situation. They did not let their situation define them.
Incorporate a gratitude journal. Be detailed about your gratitude and be specific. I would suggest you do this daily.
Re-frame your way of thinking. Have you heard of “you are what you think?” Track your thoughts daily to recognize unhelpful thoughts.
And of course, if you are having a difficult time, consider scheduling an appointment with a therapist. You can find a therapist at Psychology Today (Enter your city or zip code to find a therapist near you).
Live mindfully, hopeful and persevere.
Until next time!
Claudia Stanley, LMSW