How to turn “Hopeless” into “Hopeful” by James Mapes

The secret is not to give up hope.

It’s very hard not to because if you’re really doing something worthwhile

I think you will be pushed to the brink of hopelessness

before you come through the other side.

–George Lucas
Everyone experiences emotional or physical trauma.  Perhaps due to the loss of a loved one, being fired, passed over for a promotion or having to declare bankruptcy. Trauma might be the result of bullying, terrorism, rape, murder or a health crisis.

 

In politics and government today, there are a great number of individuals who feel that – whatever they do – it does not make a difference, that our culture is unraveling.

 

Trauma paralyzes – leaving one feeling powerless and hopeless.  Fear freezes us.

 

Trauma overwhelms the area of the brain responsible for problem-solving and judgement, so solutions remain invisible.

 

FACT: Feeling hopeless does not mean that there is no hope at all in your life; it is because you feel there’s none.

 

Unfortunately, hopelessness is often a learned loop of anxiety and helplessness.  When you are trapped in the psychological “box” of being helpless, you cease experimenting and trying new things because you are immobile.  You give in to the belief that your actions don’t make a difference, that you are not good enough, too old or too damaged. You are just doomed!

 

My clients often say that they have tried everything and absolutely nothing works!

 

That’s quite impossible.  No one has tried everything; they have only tried the options they see or believe exist. There is always something new to try: strategies, changing patterns of thinking or behavior, meditating, different forms of therapy, or maybe changing a medication.

 

The good news is that you really can become your own guru. The uncomfortable news is that – to accomplish this – you need to manage your thinking by taking action and shifting your focus – NOW!

 

To get un-stuck, you must admit that you can tolerate the slight discomfort of doing what you might not want to do in order to make your life better.

 

Put these four strategies into practice now – and you will change from hopeless to hopeful:

 

#1: SHIFT YOUR FOCUS TO TAKING POSITIVE ACTION!

 

Uncover and acknowledge what thought patterns and actions have not worked for you in the past.  Choose to shift your thinking and behavior – now.  Start by putting the brakes on complaining, criticizing and worrying.  Stop isolating yourself from others and taking things personally.

 

Use whatever emotion necessary to ignite into action.  Shout out, “I’m not going to sit around and hope for the best!  I am going to take control!  I WILL NOT permit my life to be ruled by fear!”

 

By taking positive action, you can avoid making hopelessness a self-fulfilling prophecy and dissolve the feeling of helplessness.   Only then can you create a sense of structure and certainty in a tumultuous time.  You do that by shifting your focus, creating a personal vison and moving forward.

 

#2: SHIFT YOUR FOCUS BY CREATING A PERSONAL VISION:

 

Where there is no vison, there is no hope.  Every single one of my clients is required to write a life- affirming vision of what he or she wants to achieve or improve.  This vision statement always gives them new hope and energy to achieve their vison.  So it all begins with you.

 

What do you truly want?  Envision your ideal future.  Play and dream in your imagination.  If you are alone, or you and your partner are having difficulties, what does your ideal relationship look like?

 

If you hate your work or are unemployed, what does your ideal job look like?  If you are lonely, what does a fuller social life look like?  Be very specific and don’t negate the details!  What does it feel like, look like, taste like, smell like?

 

Here’s a key to creating your own personal vision: it must be exciting and compelling.  Like a rubber band tied around your wrist, it must pull you into that future.

 

#3: SHIFT YOUR ATTENTION TO IDENTIFYING YOUR PURPOSE.

 

What do you want?  What is your reason or reasons for working to achieve your vision, your goal?

 

This is a monumentally important part of the process.  Your reason drives your passion.  Your passion is what will propel you forward through tough and challenging times.  Your passion is what will help you push through doubt and stress.

 

Discover your “Why?” and discover your key to motivation.

 

#4: SHIFT YOUR FOCUS BY JOINING OTHERS WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH HOPELESSNESS:

 

Sometimes you can’t do it alone! You are not the first person to struggle with feeling lost and hopeless.    I guarantee others – like you – exist in your own community. Pro-actively seek them out.  Become part of a support group or organization that corresponds with your beliefs.

 

Here, you can dialogue, trade ideas and seek support from others who are going through a similar situation.  Best of all, you will learn strategies that have worked for others.

 

WITHOUT complaining and blaming.  Ask, “What positive actions can I take?”

 

IMAGINE THAT!

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