How To Find Hope When You Feel Hopeless
If you're reading this, it's likely that you or someone close to you has experienced some type of trauma.
Maybe it was a car accident, a natural disaster, or something more personal.
“WHOA! HOLD ON!”
Yeah I can hear some of you screaming at this assumption.
I feel like all sorts of red flags pop up whenever someone says the word trauma.
But trauma is often defined as a personal experience where our mind and body struggles to process what happened.
I like to say trauma is any non-nurturing event that has happened in our life.
Whatever the case, if you’ve experienced some trauma like I have, then it's probably left you feeling a little lost and hopeless.
At least I know my trauma left me feeling this way.
But there is hope!
In this blog post, I plan on going over some of the ways I have rebuilt my life after my trauma.
Also if you don’t know my story then here’s a quick snapshot of a few traumatic events I’ve experienced:
I’ve gone through bankruptcy, infertility, 3 rounds of IVF, a miracle pregnancy immediately followed by child loss after the pregnancy, my wife received a cancer diagnosis, I then became a widower after losing her, and two years later re-lived it all over again from losing my Mom to cancer.
Wow! That’s a life full of trauma.
And if that isn’t enough trauma for me to be an expert in the field, then my 15 years of being a clinical therapist has.
I have helped hundreds of patients with anxiety, depression, divorce, surviving a friend or family member who has taken their own life, drug addiction, porn/sex addiction, first responders, and especially grief from loss of a spouse, parent, child, or sibling.
I’ve learned something very important through all of these trials.
You don't have to go through them alone!
Reach out for help when you need it and be gentle with yourself as you take these first steps toward healing.
Hope is waiting for you on the other side of this dark time and I hope we’ll be able to find it together.
If you’d like me along for the journey then subscribe to my hope newsletter here:
1: How to begin the process of healing
Healing from hurt, trauma, and other hard experiences can be a difficult journey.
Through the hundreds of patients I’ve helped, and in my own life I’ve learned there is no single destination or perfect way - only the path that you (yes you!) decide to take.
I plan on laying out a few paths for you in this article, but at the end of the day it always comes back to you.
These paths will include getting you to recognize that hurt, loss, and pain are normal parts of life and it's ok for you to grieve and make space for the feelings that come with it.
Then we’ll talk about the importance of finding the right guide to slay the lion in your life. (Don’t worry we will come back to this lion often and it will start to make sense)
After that we’ll talk about you becoming a guide to save others by slaying their lions.
(See these lions are everywhere)
We’ll move into the important role your friends and family play within your world of facing hopelessness.
And finally after building hope in the present moment, we’ll go into the self-care tips that will help you build a hope for the future.
Above all, remember that facing difficult times and seeking healing is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength - a strength that comes from the courage within you.
2: Acknowledge that you are feeling hopeless and that it is a normal reaction to trauma
Right here, right now I am giving you permission to relax, let go of all of your guilt, shame, and regret.
If you are feeling hopeless, that is a perfectly normal state your mind will use to protect itself.
You are not broken, this usually happens after experiencing trauma.
That sense of overwhelming despair is something we all go through and there's no need to be ashamed of it. (Trust me, I have been in survival mode more times than I can count)
It can be difficult to process all of the intense emotions that come with such a difficult situation.
This is why our mind will go into a type of fog that makes things like planning out the future seem impossible.
If I know I’m being stalked by a lion right now, my mind isn’t going to be thinking about my five-year goals.
I just need to survive.
So just by acknowledging this state of hopelessness can begin your journey towards healing.
Take some time to sit with the feeling and explore its source, and know that you are not alone in this experience.
When I went through bankruptcy it was easy to feel like I was the greatest failure on the planet. Even though there are close to a million people a year who declare bankruptcy in the USA.
When my wife and I were going through infertility it was so easy to see all the women around us that seemed to get pregnant without even trying, and to think that we were the only ones who could not.
After losing our 3rd child, baby Hulet, and then losing my wife and mother. I knew I was alone in my grief, and stuck in my survival mode.
I had been stalked by that lion day in and day out.
I wasn’t sure when he was going to come after me next or someone I cared about.
Then when despair was encircling me and I felt hopeless I met others who had lost just as much as me, in fact some had even lost more than me.
Out of eight billion people on earth I promise you, someone else has gone through a similar experience and if you can find some of them to connect with, you will find strength in knowing that you will get through this trial just like they have survived their trials.
Finding someone else who has been stalked by a lion most of their life, but has finally found peace gives you some peace in return.
3: The importance of seeking guidance
It’s funny, there is a cultural stigma around seeking guidance when it comes to understanding your own mind or feelings.
But it’s perfectly normal to seek guidance if your physical body has a problem.
Or if you are going into a new job, or if you are just starting out at a gym, even video games always start off with a tutorial because it’s a new experience.
Our culture's stigma would have us believe if you need to seek guidance through your emotions you must be weak.
Yet it is a prerequisite for everyone to receive general life guidance through 12 years of public schooling to learn the basics on how to function in this life.
Seeking guidance when going through difficult times is essential.
Let me say that again, it is essential.
Going back to that lion stalking me.
With each predator(trial) stalking me in my life I’ve had to seek guidance on how to slay each beast.
Having someone with experience and knowledge to give me advice and help me navigate these challenges made all the difference in how I survived and grew from them.
Guidance from others allows us to see things in a different light, often shifting our perspectives towards a mindset of understanding and growth.
I have also made some of my best relationships through finding the right person to guide me.
A good guide will offer ways to work through your issues before they become unresolvable or before you start to develop negative habits that can damage your life.
Don't hesitate to reach out for counsel on your path - a skilled guide can provide calm reassurance when everything feels overwhelming.
Unsure how to do this?
At first, I was too!
Hopefully this article will help: “How to find the right guide for your life”.
Remember inspiring words of wisdom when you feel lost, and gentle reminders that it's alright to be vulnerable can be the difference between being stuck in survival mode and finally slaying the beast that’s been stalking you.
4: The importance of becoming a guide to heal oneself
We all experience pain and suffering in life, but most of us never consider that we have an incredible tool at our disposal – the power of healing and guiding others.
By taking proactive steps to heal ourselves through acts of kindness and love, we can let go of the hurt and disappointment of the past, helping us create a more joyful present.
Remember that lion stalking you?
How can you forget it, right?
It’s always there in the back of your mind.
Surprisingly I’ve discovered that if you can help someone else facing a different predator(trial) that you’ve already slain, the lion stalking you tends to take a break and leave you alone.
Yes, I’m talking about you going out of your way to become someone else’s guide in their life.
I don’t care if it’s something simple, find a way to help someone else. (Therapist’s Orders)
Because it’s important we stay away from environments that do not serve us and engage in those that bring us peace.
As we find each action that brings us one step closer to finding relief, we’ll finally be able to slay our own personal lion.
One of the best ways to figure out how to help someone else is by asking yourself the question “If I could go back in time and give myself advice to avoid _____, what would I say?”
I promise you there is someone out there who is about to go through something you have already learned to resolve.
Remember – every act has an effect, even if it is simply breathing deeply and recognizing your own worth – so why not use this power of kindness to guide others and heal yourself in the process?
I challenge you to find someone out there who you can help, and become their guide.
5: The role of family and friends in supporting a loved one's recovery
Family and friends are incredibly important when it comes to slaying our lions.
They can provide hope and motivation in times of despair, reminding us that there is still joy to be found in life.
This only works if they, too, are not in survival mode.
If you aren’t careful and they currently have a lion stalking them you might accidentally volunteer to bring a second lion into your life.
So be careful about who you invite into this vital role when you are in survival mode.
This does not mean that you need to cut the others in survival mode out of your life, it just means they can not be your source of hope and motivation.
Now if they are not in survival mode then they can also offer emotional support -through listening when you need an outlet, and provide you with gentle wisdom when advice is sought.
Even if you have family or friends who live further away or are unable to provide physical help, they can show their love through simple gestures like sending cards or visiting virtually.
The connection to these individuals can make all the difference.
Above all else, having a strong network of family and friends can give hope that recovery isn’t something that needs to be done alone.
To help your friends and family become more connected with you, send them this link:
And ask them to Sign up.
I will email them guidance on how to become the strong network of support you need and deserve to have around you.
Read this article if you personally do not have any family or friends you can go to for motivation and hope:
“How to build a support network around you.”
6: Tips for self-care during the healing process
During the healing process, self-care is more important than ever.
Healing can be a thousand mile journey, and while sometimes it feels like progress is slow, having hope in yourself and in your abilities to heal can help you along the way!
Taking even just a few minutes out of each day to do something special for yourself - whether that's journaling what you're feeling, taking a walk outside, or reading an inspirational book - can make a huge difference when it comes to feeling better.
Allow yourself to go through your emotions without judgment; remember that all of them are valid.
If you are looking for a list of self-care actions you can take to build yourself up while healing from trauma read this article: “The Ultimate Self-Care List”.
7: Building hope for the future
Creating hope for the future can seem like an insurmountable task, but it's absolutely possible.
With an empathetic and careful approach, we can enable ourselves to step forward with a newfound desire to make an impact in our lives and in the world.
Inspiring action is key, and that requires taking specific steps towards positive outcomes no matter how small they may appear.
All of these little steps together make a large difference over time and help move us closer to achieving our goals.
So no matter where you are right now, know that hope is possible and that you have within you all the power you need to create a brighter future.
This article is not a fix all problem. Unfortunately there is no "simple" list to just magically be healed.
If there was there would be no need for Therapists out there in the world.
The paths I presented in this article might feel like I was saying the same thing over and over again.
That is to get connected with the right people that you need in your life.
I know this is one of the strongest ways to begin the journey back to hope, and I would be honored if you allowed me to be one of these important connections throughout your journey.