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What To Do When You’re At The End Of Your Tether

Hope turns up in the strangest places sometimes.
And sometimes you really need it to.

At the end of your tether, strung out, sometimes it’s hard to know what you’re supposed to do to make it through even just another day.

Today, I spied a mini-message of hope, stuck onto the bottom of a traffic sign in my neighbourhood, underneath a scrawled texta heart (that’s it in the photo). The whole thing was only a few square centimeters, easy to overlook. And I wasn’t expecting to find it:

“When you’re at the end of your rope,
tie a knot and hang on”

(Surely, this is ‘vandalism’ at it’s best…)

So what might help you to tie that virtual knot?
What helps you hold on when things are tough?
What gives you the strength to hang in there one more day?

Maybe it’s remembering the ones you love – people or pets – living or not – and connecting with them in whatever way you can.
Or getting lost in the flow of something you love to do.
Or maybe it’s as simple as seeing the slant of the morning sun through the trees.

For hope comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes it makes grand gestures and writes itself across the sky in letters a thousand feet high. Other times, it’s still and small.

But when it seems hard to believe that it will ever visit you again, or if you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, those are the times to build in some safety for yourself – something to help you rise back up from despair.

And if you’re not feeling strong enough to do that alone right now, you can always reach out to others who can help.

Maybe a friend.
Or a mentor.
Or a counsellor.
Or a telephone helpline (like Lifeline in Australia, Contact in the US, Telecare in Canada or TELL in Japan)

Just hold on…

For hope turns up in the strangest of places. And sometimes, like that little note on the streetsign, it only needs to be a few centimeters across to make all the difference.


Photo: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar
Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a writer, blogger and Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She was the former editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.
What To Do When You’re At The End Of Your Tether

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

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APA Reference
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2011). What To Do When You’re At The End Of Your Tether. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 5, 2020, from


Last updated: 15 Jun 2011
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