How We Lose Hope and How to Get it Back
Hope is the life force that keeps us going and gives us something to live for. Hope is a crucial part of dealing with life’s problems and maintaining resilience is the face of obstacles. Even a glimmer of hope that our situation will turn around can keep us going.
Though, when we begin to lose hope, things can seem bleak. When we run into constant resistance and are prevented from reaching our goals we can start to feel like there is nothing to live for. If we can’t get to where we want to be and don’t feel in control of our life, what’s the point?
If you or someone else is feeling apathetic and are tired of running the rat race of life you may be starting to lose hope. In order to open up new and fulfilling possibilities for your future, you may need to nurture hope.
Below is an adaptation from the book, The Psychology of Hope by C.R. Snyder, a late and great pioneer in the field of positive psychology.
How we lose hope
- Lacking hope from the beginning – If we experienced neglect and were never nourished as a child, we may never have developed a healthy level of hopeful thinking. We might not have confidence and resilience set in place, and simply struggle when things prevent us from achieving our goals.
- Loss of connections – When we experience loss over time we can start to feel hopeless. Loss can come from divorce, death, and change. We can also experience loss of intangibles like a job or other important aspects of our identity. When we hold on and wallow in our grief from these loses hopelessness can set in.
- Victimization – When we are abused and belittled we can start to believe that is how life is supposed to be. We can begin to feel that we don’t have any control over what happens to us and that bad things will always occur. This can relate to unfair treatment from prejudice and discrimination.
- Burnout – If we don’t take care of ourselves we can get exhausted and overwhelmed to a point where life seems to run over us. We no longer feel able to manage our responsibilities and develop a negative and cynical view of the world and others. Burnout can lead us to feel defeated.
How to renew hope
In much of the research examining hope, a major factor that contributes to our level of hope is the achievement of our goals. When we are able to reach our goals and have a sense of support and validation it instills hope.
In this sense, empowering yourself by setting effective goals is the key. Here is a few tips to set and achieve your goals and bring more hope into your life.
There are so many areas in life that we may like to see improvements, but we can’t do everything at once. So, figure out what domains of life you want to achieve goals in, and what’s most important between these. Do you want to have better relationships, get a job, or have better physical health? Pick one area to begin and set a realistic goal that you will be able to achieve.
Set SMART Goals
In order for goals to uplift and enliven us we need goals that are challenging and motivating yet still realistic. A good acronym to follow in order for goals to be effective is “SMART.”
- Action oriented
- Time bound
Move past barriers
When working toward our goals there’s likely to be some unexpected situations that occur. We need to be ready to deal with obstacles and drawbacks. Consider what barrier you could run into and how to be prepared to manage these. When they arise you will be ready, have a plan, and won’t be able to use this as an excuse to give up. It will also be an important aid to the success of your goals.
We need to know where we’re going, and have an idea of how and when we’re going to get there. By achieving small steps along the way you can renew hope and continue to stretch yourself further.When we break down goals into short-term, mid-term, and long-term expectations it provides clear direction and measurable progress that can keep us motivated and hopeful for a successful future.
Wilner, J. (2011). How We Lose Hope and How to Get it Back. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 2, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/positive-psychology/2011/04/how-we-lose-hope-and-how-to-get-it-back/