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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.

3 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?

  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.

      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.


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