During my brainstorming session of what I wanted to write about today I came across a video that had no words, only music. The video told a visual story of an underdog rising above the perennial favorite to win the competition the two were engaged in.
It was from this video that I heard the words “people are always looking for hope,” speak as clear as day in the depths of my unconscious mind.
Myself being one who advocates the trusting of one’s intuition to my clients as well as a continued dedication to improve my own acting on my silent voice – I’m going with this message with the belief that it will connect with exactly who it is meant to.
I once gave a talk on suicide awareness/prevention and one of the key points of that talk was the power of hope – that hope cannot only change lives, it can save them too.
Aside from love, I’m not sure any other emotion has the power that hope does. It can change lives, create lives, pick us up from our darkest places, and inspire us to reach higher than we have ever reached before.
Hope can be the fuel for eradicating diseases (look at the recent work done with polio) and it can inspire the discovery to some of the biggest questions we have (look at Elon Musk’s pledge to get to Mars in the next several years).
We know how powerful hope is, how important it is to our overall quality of life, so then why is it sometimes so hard for us to find it?
The short answer of that is: Life.
Life can be extremely hard at times and when we lose our way or something derails us on our journey it can be tough to get going again. This process is made all the more difficult by the stories we tell ourselves and to anyone who will listen.
These stories evolve from “what happened,” into “what happened + the impossibility of the future we face.” It is in the “impossibility” that hope disappears for the story teller and becomes seemingly elusive.
An example of this “impossibility” in action:
Jane dates Mark then Mark cheats on her. Jane then decides that she cannot risk loving again because ALL men are cheaters.
Jane has closed off her future because she has allowed her pain to paint a picture of a dismal future – a future where all men are cheaters like Mark and Mark hurts Jane.
Here’s another example:
Jane dates and marries Mark. They live a happy life with a happy family until suddenly, one day, without warning, Mark dies. Jane is now a widow. Jane feels pain and loss unlike she has ever felt before. Breathing takes effort and eating seems impossible at times. Someone tells Jane that she is depressed, so Jane becomes “Depressed.” As her Depression Jane sees a future only through the lens of “no Mark” and a future of “no Mark,” = depressing.
Obviously these are condensed down examples and life rarely happens as neat and tidy as I have presented them here. When we experience loss and with it a loss of hope, there are often dozens of other things, people, factors that contribute to the story we tell that limits our hope.
Which leads us to: Where should one look for hope and how should they go about finding it?
The best place to look for hope when you feel an absence of it, is look outward, look to the external world for hope. Look at the smile on a newborn baby, look at the excitement of a dog before they go for their walk, look at the carefree laughter of a child. Look at nature and you will see hope in the form of the blade of grass breaking through the sidewalk, or the first flower of spring to bloom. You will see examples of hope wherever you look.
Finding hope is different. To find hope means one must find hope within themselves. How do you do that when the feeling of hope is absent?
It begins with changing your story by deleting the impossibly hopeless future and rewriting it to allow space for possibility.
Lets go back to Jane to see an example of what I am saying.
When Jane just dated Mark and Mark cheated on her, Jane decided that she could not risk loving again because ALL men are cheaters?
What if Jane changed her story to something like:
“What happened with Mark is heartbreaking and it has made me all the more aware of the type of man I want to date. I know my best friend Sally is married to Jeff who is the most amazing man ever. I am committed to only dating men that embody characteristics similar to Jeff.”
In this new story their is the acknowledgement of the pain, but what’s different now, is that the future is no longer impossible and Jane’s pain has a purpose – a purpose to find someone like Jeff.
In our other example where Jane and Mark were married then Mark died suddenly, what if Jane’s story went something more like this:
“Mark was the love of my life and he brought me so much happiness and joy. My heart is broken right now, but I am committed to picking up the pieces one by one because I know Mark would want me to do that. I know Mark would want me to find my happiness again for myself and for our children. I am committed to finding my happiness because by doing so I will be loving Mark and honoring what I know in my heart his wishes for me are.”
Again Jane is acknowledging her pain, but she has changed her story to give her pain a purpose (honoring Mark by finding her happiness).
Stories are powerful – they have been how we have passed human history from generation to generation. The stories we tell ourselves are the most powerful.
Hope exists everywhere, but to see it, to find it, and to experience it, the hopeless must change their story.
If you are still reading this, my guess is that you are seeking hope in some way in your life. You may not be seeking it in the same way as Jane. Perhaps you are seeking it for your health, for your self confidence, or your career. Whatever the case may be hope is never lost and it is always there waiting to be found by you.
The discovery begins with the story you tell yourself and about yourself.
Good news is: You are the author of your story. This means you hold the pen that will write your future.
Use it to write a future filled with hope.
Carpe Diem and With Love,