Monday, 26 September 2016

How To: Harness Hope

“Hope” is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops, at all" Emily Dickinson

Hope may seem like such a small word, but it's one of such significance that I strongly suggest recognising the magnitude of what it has to say. It's a word that has echoed throughout my own journey, relentlessly reassuring and pulling me through. 

And I've seen it work its magic time and time again, cultivating strength from suffering and survival over struggle. It is a word of overcoming, of fighting, of empowerment in the face of desperation. Hope is a little word with big impactpotential and power.

As such an incredibly fundamental tool toward unlocking our freedom, it might be worth considering - Do we use it enough? Do we amplify its importance? Do we give it a voice in our own stories? 

Or do we shut it down, saying it's silly, it's idealistic, it doesn't get what we're going through?

Because of course, not only is it a mere four letters, it also seems so simple, maybe airy-fairy hippy kind of spiritual sh*t which, when we're drowning in our own negative narrative, is the last thing we want to hear. Maybe we don't reach for hope because we're busy trying to intellectualise the anguish in our lives, making attempts to organise our symptoms into a neatly labelled box. Maybe we become so preoccupied with finding out the 'why?'s, we forget the 'what next?'s'. Maybe we become so programmed to ignore the possibility of hope we bury ourselves deep within this box.

All the while hope spreads its wings, swooping around the walls that surround us, asking us to look up for a change and join it in its unlimited freedom instead.

And maybe it's finally time to turn our eyes towards it.

In a video shared on our Facebook recently psychiatrist Dr Peter Breggin says that depression occurs when we have a total loss of hope. I personally find this fitting as I think that when we lose hope, we lose ourselves. We lose our capacity for life, our reason for being because if there's nothing to hope for, what's the point? If we can't connect to any hopes for ourselves, we become detached, isolated and entirely hopeless. What would we want to live for then? 

Hope has always been an important word for me. It was a spark of light, regardless how small, that always said, this will get better, this too shall pass. From a caged, limited, constricted view of the world, hope was the key. Ready and willing to unlock the life within.

Which is exactly what it did.

As humans, we need hope. We need something to believe in, and if I can suggest anything, this would be it. So how can we get our hands on it? 

WHO ARE WE?

A helpful step towards hope, is looking inward. With self-esteem, confidence and belief seemingly non-existent, it's gonna be challenging to find hope and positive feelings about our place in the world. So, we need to ask who we are and get really interested in that person. Because, that person is the one who is going to make this better. That person is the one who can carry us towards what we want. But we need to get to know who that is, get to respect, trust and believe in them wholeheartedly.

Of course, when we lose ourselves, we lose our handle on our world. We lose connection and motivation and purpose. And without all that good stuff, we feel worthless and inevitably, hopeless. Self discovery is an enriching exploration to igniting hope. It encourages that we ask questions about who we are, seek out our qualities, our idiosyncrasies, our opinions. We need to ask what makes us different, what makes us smile, what makes us feel safe. We need to consider our strengths, our talents and our capabilities. When we begin to look at ourselves as worthwhile people instead of worthless burdens, our little sparks of hope begin to catch fire.

WHAT MATTERS?

What matters to these people we've discovered ourselves to be? What lights a fire in our belly? What gets us up in the morning? We all have something, even if we've been burying it in dismissive doubt, it's not about to go away without a fight. Finding hope comes in focusing on our matters that matter. Discovering our passions and dreams and goals. This is what we need to gift with our time, these are the resources to reconnect with. 

We all have values and beliefs and causes that whether we like to admit it or not, we care about. There's qualities we admire in our role models, choices we believe are worth making, causes we'd like to be involved in, things we really want to do. When we're coccooned in apathy, we forget this stuff and that makes the world a depressingly different place. Without ourselves in the picture, without anything to aspire to, hope has little oxygen to breathe. 

WHAT DO WE WANT?

For me hope is a word laden in possibility, it opens up the world and the opportunity that we're blind to in its absence. So when we unearth hope, we unearth the way to fulfilment, enjoyment and contentment. 

But, what do we want? I think we're afraid of this question sometimes, fearful of sounding ridiculous or silly. But what are we here for, if not to find out what we want from life? When we discover ourselves and our passions, we've begun a significant undertaking. We've created a foundation for freedom, the freedom to pursue the lives we want to live, lives we can get excited about and value as much as we've learned to value ourselves. That may sound out of reach now, but we can still see that it's something we could want, can't we? So what else do we want?

Maybe we want to connect to people with similar ideas. Maybe we want to move, to create, to inspire. Maybe we want to be inspired, to learn, to grow. Do we want love and relationships? Do we want travel and adventure? Do we want to do something worthwhile, to make an impact, to use our voice? Dream a little. Dream a lot. The more we see potential, the more hope we can have. If there's something, anything we can hold onto, that we can look forward to, we have our hands on hope. 

***

This is not always easy, this journey we're all on. It has its challenges and its headf*cks and its days where we just have enough. But pain ends, difficulty ends, the hard times end. If we choose to hold on to hope throughout, we get to look forward to all of the exciting new beginnings that come next. We can make this all more enjoyable, more interesting, more exciting. We need to engage with our lives, become a part of them again and harness the hope that will allow us to be glad that we are. 

Hope is here, it's everywhere. It's within us and around us. And, it's always, always, ours for the taking.

"When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, ‘Try it one more time.'”

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