Are you experiencing any hopelessness at all right now? I wouldn’t blame you.
So many of you are struggling with money, food, work, physical, and mental health as the world has literally pulled the emergency break, putting our social lives on halt as we collectively battle a pandemic…in isolation.
And there’s a long tunnel before we see the light. President Trump announced that social distancing guidelines will extend now to April 30th.
So yeah…I don’t blame you if you are losing a little hope right now.
As a Neuro-Linguistic Programmer and certified wellness coach, I am following closely the news and research related to how social isolation is beginning to affect mental health. Experts have found that there can be a profound effect on people’s physical and mental health during this “social recession.” Some studies have even shown that long-term isolation can even increase the risk of premature death.
People who are more socially connected show less inflammation, conversely people who are more isolated and lonely show increased chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been implicated in a variety of chronic diseases.”Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Brigham Young University.
Ok yeah, again, I don’t blame you!
What is hope? And how can you find it?
So what does this all mean and HOW can we find HOPE in these uncertain times?
First off, let me share with you what hope is.
Hope is defined as the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the better with the ability to look forward to limitless possibilities and optimism.
I have to be authentically truthful at this point. I was inspired to dive deep into the topic of hope because of two very specific events:
- Seeing first hand the impact that COVID-19 is having on people’s mental and physical well being.
- Someone recently telling me they didn’t want me to get my HOPES up in a situation.
When I thought about how I could peel back some tangible tools for you this week on how to find hope, I wanted to make sure and give you some basic facts first, followed by action items to move you forward.
I am hoping at the core of my being, this will help you to find what gives you strength, clarity, and purpose in navigating these turbulent times.
Self-doubt and fear in the face of uncertainty can paralyze us and blind us to the good options that are available.”
Facts about hope and despair
British philosopher Alain de Botton once said, “The difference between hope and despair is a different way of telling stories from the same facts.” Meaning, I believe, the world will continue to turn, circumstances ebb and flow, and it is up to you to choose how to tell your story within all of it.
Fact #1: Resistance will often try to take you down. When it arrives, we often pause and put off life decisions out of fear and despair. The resistance comes from a past event and/or fear you have therefore you tend to expect the same pain in the future!
Past disappointments lead us to anticipate present and future disappointments. Worry and doubt is based on an illusion. We can become free, hopeful, and fearless once we STOP resisting.
Fact #2: Most people are hardwired for fear and worry. We as humans have developed a fear system based on evolutionary experiences that continue to happen to this day: facing potentially lethal danger from predators, violence among our own species, contamination-contagion (ok, that hits close to home!), status loss or social exile, and extreme environmental features (thunderstorms, hurricanes, falling off a cliff!). (Nautilus)
Therefore, we must learn to flex our adaptability muscle, be flexible, and have an optimistic mindset. This is where hope comes in. You become what you expect in your heart.
Fact#3: You have a choice to either flex your hope muscle or your despair muscle. Whichever one you workout more, gets stronger! Think about that.
Fact#4: When you can embrace uncertainty from a place of inner security and harness its creative potenital, your outer world changes.
Hope is activated through self-awareness. Self-awareness is not only a powerful center of security and guidence in life, it is also our true nature, our essential being.
Now that I have shared with you some facts about how fear and despair can literally be hardwired into your actions and beliefs, hope can now become the new way of opening up your ability to become creative, and imagine ALL possibilities!
Actionable steps to embrace hope
Step #1: Hope lives in the moment. What can you go for NOW? Where can you become fearless by taking an actionable step even though you have NO idea of what the outcome will be?
Write down one thing you want to GO for and make a list of 3 things you will do to go after it regardless of the outcome. Remember when you activate the hope muscle, it becomes stronger.
Step #2: Love and joy are qualities we can choose to see in all situations. You can do this by looking at the siutation at hand in your life currently.
How is this experience bringing more love or joy in my life?
What do I need to do flex the HOPE muscle more so I can learn to be more in LOVE and JOY in a time of uncertainty?
- Maybe this is realizing that family and our loved ones come first. We spend more intimiate time with them over dinner. We play games. We slow down and do new things together.
- Maybe you reach out to others that need help more than you do. Or you accept help from others right now so you can learn what it feels like to recieve and give love.
For me in this trying time, I have said over and over again, I choose to be hopeful because it feels lighter. I believe in hope way more than fear. I know this place well because I have had to practice this muscle throughout my entire adversarial life.
- I have learned that hope makes me strong and secure.
- When I have hope, I am fearless because I know good things happen with uncertainty.
- Hope becomes the outcome when what I say and what I do match!
- Hope feels kinder to my body and opens my mind and heart versus being blocked by past painful memories or events.
The unknown is not the enemy, it rather brings hope & opportunity for positive change in all situations”Deepak Chopra