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4 steps to keeping hope

Hope is essential in the tough circumstances we have in life. We hope for the best. We hope for something better. We hope for happiness and success and a range of different things that will make our lives better. Hope is an optimistic state of mind based on an expectation of a positive outcome with respect to events and circumstances in one's life.

Going to the Oxford Dictionary, hope is defined as:

1. a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.

2. a feeling of trust.

But what happens when we lose hope? What is hope and why don't we always have the feeling of hope?

A number of years ago I was reading "What Color is Your Parachute?", a guide for job-hunting and career changers. Little did I know as I read the preface to the book that I was going to get the answer to a question that had been rumbling around in my mind for years.

Many years ago when I was studying photography, as a part of a self-portrait series I had written a poem to go along with my images. The last two lines of the poem were:

"Sometimes there is hope,

Sometimes I hope for hope."

It aptly expressed some of my darker days, where all I could do to hold on, was to hope for the feeling of hope to return. So imagine my surprise, that in the preface of this book, author Richard Bolles talked about the 4 steps to keeping hope. I had always defined hope as Steps 3 and 4, and the introduction of Steps 1 and 2 to keeping hope was truly enlightening for me.

I have summarised them here and recommend you refer to the book for further detail.

Step 1....

Always have two options for anything, options give choice and the freedom of choice. Even in a situation where it seems like there is only one option - there is still the choice to take that option or not take that option. But often with a little bit of investigation we will find there is at least one other choice that could be made. For example, one of the ways to overcome one of the challenges of implementing good self-care practices, is to have a list of options ready to go. Rather than the choice being between doing it or not doing it. The choice is between the many options on the list.

Step 2....

There is always a little bit in any situation that you can control - work on that. In the book Richard talks about a client with MS. If you are in chronic pain or illness everyday it may not seem like anything you do will make a difference. But controlling all the little things that are known to help can improve your circumstances, sometimes dramatically. My own experience shows that changing my diet (as painful as that was) after allergy testing, drastically reduced my pain levels. If you know cutting certain foods out of your diet, or going for a walk, or doing certain exercises will help - focus all your efforts on doing these things.

Step 3....

Believe everything is for a reason, or has meaning, even if you don't know what this is. Whatever beliefs you have, believing there is a purpose bigger than ourselves provides perspective. Know that this too will pass.

Step 4....

Remain optimistic. Choose to believe things that encourage hope, not discourage hope. There are several beliefs out in the world that are dis-empowering rather than empowering and they do not encourage people to seek help when they may need it. For example, the belief that we never get more than we can deal with. While great in philosophy, in reality we are often handed one or more things in our life that we don't know how to deal with. Seeking help and support to alleviate our pain and stress in these situations is not only appropriate but the kindest thing we can do for ourselves.

What if you find yourself in a situation where you have lost hope? Please reach out to a trusted friend, advisor, us, or any of the free support services that is available to help you (such as p: 13 11 14, p:1300 22 4636).

In summary hope isn't just a feeling to manifest in the darker days, I believe the 4 steps for hope that Richard Bolles outlined in his book can be used in our daily lives to tackle any situation we find ourselves in, and to assist us in the manifestation of our dreams. It is an important part of the implementation of the strategies I help my clients put in place to manage their stress, and chronic conditions.

By the way, if you need help managing post-traumatic stress, stress from trauma or a chronic condition then I have an opportunity for you. I currently have spaces in my Empower You Now program. Contact me for a free discovery session to see if I can help you.

I hope (pun intended) that you find these 4 steps to hope helpful.

Until next time,


Empower You Now

Richard Bolles' website

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