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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.

5 Comments to
How We Lose Hope and How to Get it Back

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  1. Hi;
    My son has severe arthritis, and just turned 33. This condition will only worsen over time, and he already appears as though in his eighties. There is no hope in him. How can I help him before we both die?
    Mari

  2. I have been hopeful most of the time for the past 25 years. Mainly because I came to believe God was going to help me finacially. I know I am a slow learner but finally after all the these years I realize that there is no way he will help me like that. I read your article and am actually depressed. Since I have never accomplished a goal and feel so terrable when I don’t accomplish it I don’t think I’ll make any more.

    • JW I hope you’re still here to see this. My mom wrote gospel songs and spent over 30 years hoping and wondering why nothing ever became of them. At the age of 70, singing in an elderly quartet for a church talent show, she was approached by a Nashville music producer who is now working with her on producing her songs. 25 years may seem too long for us. But God doesn’t work on our time schedule.

      We also need to remember that we can’t simply ask God to take care of all our wants if we’re not listening. I’ve often purchased frivolous items I felt I truly needed but they were honestly just items of comfort to make life easier. But what if I didn’t purchase those and instead purchased CDs or stock? It might be 30 years before my finances improved but I would at least be taking steps towards it. What if we returned to school part time? It may bring us a better job in the future.

      I say this as one who’s lost hope many times, have battled a childhood of molestation and criticism, childhood major illness, who deals with poor health and mounting medical bills right now, single parent raising a special needs child who’s very demanding while working full time and barely keep my head above water.

      But by holding onto God’s promises, I’ve gone from 99% hopeless to maybe 30%, as a rough estimate. I’ve moved from mostly negative to way more positive. I have down days. But I have more up days now because I’m trusting more and more in God’s promises.

      • Char, your message is beautiful and uplifting. Thank you!

  3. I have been working 12 years in an entry level job even though I have a master’s degree. I recently applied for a higher management job which I did not get. One of the interviewers is someone who tends to yell at me. She doesn’t respect the staff. I have had to stay at my job because I have been taking care of my elderly mother. My father who died a few years ago was a pack-rat, and I have been sorting through his stuff. I have given up on my whole life (love, the idea of having my own family, career). My home is even a mess. I have felt unwanted in work and love. I’m exhausted most of the time, and I feel like I am going to burst into tears. I feel empty and dead inside. Sometimes I wish a 12.0 earthquake would just take me and my problems out. I don’t know how I can get hope back at this point. The future just seems bleak.

    • Hopeless, this was posted two years ago. Did things get better? I hope they did.

    • I hope the same

    • Hopeless, where you see failure, I see an admirable person who has cared devotedly for an elderly parent. Please know that you are doing much good and are someone to be honored. Please see yourself through a broader lens– you are worth it.

      Suggestions:
      1. Take time to bring pleasure to yourself each day, even or especially in small ways. Enjoy a beautiful day, a sunset, a flavor or a tune. Build on your pleasure over time.
      2. Don’t let your job or income define you. You are much more than that. Give yourself points for having a job during bleak economic times– you have done better than millions of others. That is something to be proud of.
      3. If your hopelessness persists, it might be a sign of depression. If needed, do seek medical help. If cost is a concern, please seek a treatment center that accepts sliding fees. You are too good a person to be unhappy.

  4. I have lost hope in myself ever finding happiness and getting married. All my friends are married and have kids and I am the only one still single and 28. Several times over the past year or so I have started relationships and thought we had a connection and these guys always seem certain they want a serious relationship. Then they turn around and use the excuse they are not ready for anything serious. Then once again I am left broken and back at square one. I feel depressed and hate seeing couples or hearing about their families. Even though I hear and see people saying how hard it is in marriage it doesn’t stop
    Me from wanting it. I just wish I could have gone through having a baby by now and sharing that with my friends. A lot of people don’t really get it. They tell me to get back up and try another way or tell me something I need to do better or not do. Which I hate because there shouldn’t be anything I need to stop or try harder at. Why do only some people seem to find it and keep a man but then some of us live life in such heartache and pain from people who cant commit. This just isn’t fair

    • Dear friend: I read your comment and thought that I would respond by telling you that you are not alone. I have a 28 yr old son, who also sees the years going by quickly. Due to different journeys in life, plans and dreams don’t always work out. The best advice I can offer is to hold on to Prayer. Tomorrow might be the day of new beginnings.

    • Elyse, I understand how painful it must be to see others paired off, when you have not yet found a partner.

      This might sound counterintuitive, but I have always found that relationships flow more easily when you are relaxed. Please try to start with the premise that you are terrific and that the correct person will appear in due course. Enjoy the men whom you do meet, but be relaxed about whether marriage is in the cards, and let the men worry about whether they are up to *your* standards.

      As well, please know that 28 is not “too old”. You still have plenty of time to meet someone, so please don’t pressure yourself on that score. Again, relax.

      I promise that your romantic life will run more smoothly when you take the pressure off yourself and your male companions. The right guy definitely show up.

  5. Elyse,
    The frustration you’re feeling is because you’re going about this in your own strength. Also, hooking up with someone by being married does not always constitute bliss. Life is hard. I don’t know if you’re a Christian, but I would say to cultivate a relationship with God, making Him first place in your life. Join a church that has a young adults group. You will grow in your faith by getting your eyes off yourself and your problems and open up your life to hope and possibilities. You are too needy to be married. You need to be whole as a person and then meet someone else who is whole to have a healthy marriage or else you’ll be codependent and miserable. I am speaking from 30 years of marriage to a marine and having raised an autistic child to adulthood. God is your only hope in this world. If you don’t already know Jesus as your Lord & Savior find out what that means and begin an amazing journey of discovery. I’m praying for you. God bless you.

  6. I, too, found this article because I went searching for ways to renew hope in my life.

    I wish I could say it was helpful, but honestly I think it just puts more weight on some already burdened shoulders.

    It could be that there’s no other advice to be given, but personally I would have liked to at least been told that there is hope to be had, even if I’m not capable of following the advice.

  7. Im going to cover several comments in one to Hopeless, A.N., Elyse & Pinkie.

    A.N., all the things you suggest are good, however as Pinkie B says, they don’t seem to help. But the reason a depressed person doesn’t see them as helpful is because they have a negative outlook…even towards helpful comments.

    Changing a hopeless outlook isn’t an overnight fix. As I said in a previous post, I used to be extremely negative. But the change towards being more positive at the time I posted had taken nearly five years after turning to Christ.

    Hopeless, a lot of suggestions may seem unattainable. In raising my son, sometimes the only break is after the sun goes down and he’s asleep. But that’s also the time we’re exhausted and need to sleep. Similarly, caring for an elderly parent. It’s made worse when you don’t have family to help, and making friends can be nearly impossible, as well as time away weekly even for a support group. It feels like a full time job…and can be to an extent. And very demanding situations can be very tiring. Being tired makes us more susceptible to depression.

    In such situations, we’re not going to be able to lean on others for physical or emotional support. Even for believers, getting away for church once a week can be an impossibility, so one cannot even turn to the church for emotional support. Even the Bible tells us a strand of two chords is not easily broken. Therefore, one is more easily broken. And without the second chord to take up the slack, it’s more difficult to mend. You can lean on God, but even He knew we needed help mates.

    During those times, it comes down to forcibly changing our thoughts by looking at other angles continuously. Your mom can be tiring but she won’t always be there. One day you’re going to have your home back and time to clean the mess. But it will be at the cost of no longer having your mother, so make the best of the time you do have left with her.

    You may may find it hard to leave your job, but if you can get the time to fill out online applications, perhaps you can replace the job. If you have no help except during work hours, take a couple vacation days and hit the pavement looking for another job. No one should stay in a job with an employer who yells. It’s demeaning and only adds to depression. We say spouses who yell are emotionally abusive, so then the employer is emotionally abusive as well. They’re also horrible at their job because they create an atmosphere where people dread coming to work, and those people are therefore not going to work to their full potential.

    I say this from experience. And though realizing my employer was stressed in our very demanding job, so was I. And her stress taken out in yelling and door slamming only increased the stress. And a long time job I’d once loved became a job I dreaded going to. So take steps to look for replacement work and that’s one goal you will look forward to.

    Elyse, I know it’s not helpfull to hear friends saying marriage is difficult, but those difficulties can leave them feeling just as down as you. Therefore it’s not the situation but the way we look at it. I was very needy for a spouse after a divorce. It can make us less discerning, taking the first one to come along. These men who not ready for marriage would have been the ones likely to be very demanding. You’d be cleaning up after them and sitting up wondering where they are when they’d meet their buddies after work. It would have been a marriage of animosity turning into divorce, financially devastating and tiring. Focus on a career knowing that this time you spend working on you will bring you to a point where you won’t even think about having a husband that when he does come into your life, he’s going to be the best one you could have ever hoped for, treat you better than you could have imagined and you will both be ready financially and more mature that the marriage will be more fulfilling.

    Changing this outlook takes time. I still hope for a husband one day but after years, I’ve come to the point where I’ve stopped looking and am ready to go it alone if that’s how it is. But it’s been too many failed relationships and years to start feeling this way. But I had to battle with it through prayer and forcing myself to look away from men who I found myself attracted to…and to stay away…from Christian Mingle, Match.com… LOL

    Pinkie, I’ve been where you are. The advice can be even more depressing. I’d tried therapy, cognitive behavioural help books, websites like this one, crying to anyone and everyone, prayer…nothing was helping. But the more I tried looking at positive things that could come from whatever situation, the more positive I became. Such as Elyse looking at the positives in marrying later or Hopeless looking at the future of having back her house. It can help her have more quality time with her mom now. Whatever is making you feel the way you do now, consider how you will feel when it’s over or what good outcome it might bring in the future.

    Sometimes we can’t see any good that can come of a bad situation, so we have to really try to find something good. Write it down if necessary, so you will have a reminder of the positive. It’s not a quick fix. But it will take persistence, and lots of time. And that is another thought to consider. Instead of thinking nothing is working to change your depression, think it’s going to be a long hard road but it’ll be well worth it.

    One thing I’ve gotten from my prayer time is: You didn’t get this way overnight, and you’re not going to change overnight.

    Just hold on to even the smallest bits of hope and you’ll learn to hold on to larger and larger bits.

 

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