Mental Health

Hope Is a Choice

Hope Is a Choice
Published: 2021-02-02
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I'm guessing that with regard to improving performance and beating the competition, you know how it feels to be determined, and confident of a win. Then again, sometimes life kicks you around a bit and the best you can do is feel hopeful. It might not have the same "oomph" that confidence holds, but it sure as heck beats feeling completely hopeless.

No doubt you've had some experience with that in your life, too. After all, you're human, and all of us hit that miserable place once in a while. I've always said that we can live for quite a long time on just a little bit of hope; it doesn't take much to make a big difference and keep us moving forward. But when that last shred of it vanishes, it can feel like life just isn't worth living.

That's when things get scary. That's when people can end up on self-destruct - in so many ways, including some that are deadly.

But one of the coolest things about hope is that it's a choice, so you can have as much of it as you want, any time you need it. If feeling strong, confident and on top of your game is a bit of a stretch from feeling like nothing's going as planned and wondering if you've lost your mojo, you can choose hope by simply deciding that you're just not going to give up, throw in the towel, and say, "I'm done."

Of course, if you really want to wallow for a while, you're quite welcome to do that, too, but it's kind of a sucky choice, really. It’s a complete waste of perfectly good time (which is irreplaceable) and energy. I don't recommend it, but hey, if you really think there's something to be gained by being mired in your misery for a while, go for it. Just do yourself a big favour and don't stay there too long. Get it out of your system (five minutes ought to be more than enough!), then get your "big kid pants" back on and choose hope.

How do you do that when you're feeling miserable? It's easy, once you know how, and now that I'm going to tell you how to do it, you have no more excuses for wallowing. All you have to do is just decide that you're bloody well not going to give up until you get where you're headed. You decided to focus on the goals you've set for yourself and to do your darnedest to reach them - or even beat them.

The world is a much brighter, happier place when you allow yourself to hope that things will get better. And you know something? They do. They always do. Choosing hope is the first step in getting yourself back to that powerful place of confidence and trusting in yourself. Gotta start somewhere, right?

I can't promise that everything will be completely fabulous right away. And sometimes, things do get a whole lot worse before they get better. That's because sometimes there's some "housecleaning" that needs to happen in order for the stuff that isn't working to disappear, and to make room for whatever great stuff lies ahead. Just hang on to your decision to keep going, no matter what. Keep choosing thoughts that feel better, focusing on your vision, your goals, and seeing yourself being successful.

The minute you start allowing yourself to focus on what's wrong and what didn't work and what's blown up in your life, it's an easy downward spiral into negative energy, despair, and hopelessness. Of course, you can't ignore that some things have gone wrong; you've still got to deal with them, but it's what you do with them that's important. Wallowing does no good.

Instead, look at what went wrong, and why, and see if there is anything you can learn from it. Was there something you could have done differently? Did you ignore that powerful but quiet inner voice that warned you about something and oops, now you see that you should have listened? (*NOTE: always listen to that voice!)

A little self-awareness and reflection can go a long way in helping you to stop with the self-pity and take control of your life again. Get back in the driver's seat, make better choices, the first one being that you are simply not going to give up, no matter what.

Sometimes all you can do is tell yourself you just have to be patient, wait your turn, and know that the sun will come up on your life again, because it will. No matter what else is going on, no matter how dark and dismal things are right now, things WILL improve.

Yeah, I can just hear you telling me how hard it is to feel hopeful when your life has just thrown up all over itself. Especially if it has been doing it for quite a while. Maybe even years. I know that story all too well, too.

So if you're sitting there thinking, "It's hard to be hopeful," suck it up and do it anyway. Dig a little deeper. I can promise you, hope is in there somewhere. You might have to poke around under some other stuff like a bit of whining or a desire to quit, but keep looking. You'll stumble on that decision to hope that everything will be okay when you remember that you can have as much of it as you need - because it's in the thoughts you choose to think. It's always up to you. Always.

You might be thinking I have no idea just how bad things are for you right now, or how bad they might have been, or could get. It's true, I'm not you, but I can assure you that I've had more than my share of troubles and I do understand the generalities of things being pretty terrible, if not the specifics of your life.

I could tell you about countless times I wanted to give up. I know fear. I know threat. I know suffering. I know despair and desperation.

I know what it is to have a life-threatening illness and get so fed up with it I had a plan to check out because I couldn't take the suffering any more. And I didn't want my family to have to watch it any longer either. I was certain that they would all be better off if I just quietly left this life. I was pretty sure that all of my children were wondering which day they'd come home from school and find me dead. Of course, they never said it, but I could see it in their little faces, and there was no mistaking the desperation, fear, and pleading in their eyes.

I had a fool proof plan to take myself "out," and I wasn't telling anyone. Because of my social work training, I knew that this was a "high risk" situation in terms of carrying out my plan for suicide. I didn't care. I wasn't just toying with the idea. I felt like I was dead but still breathing and I'd had enough. I had finally found a way out, and all I felt was sweet relief. I was just waiting for the right time.

But in the meantime, my patients needed me. I was still managing to make them well. I was helping them, providing deep healing and making a powerful difference in their lives. I was still contributing, and experiencing my own suffering made it that much more important for me to carry on and remove theirs, just as long as I could stand to keep breathing. At least then, my suffering would have a purpose, some meaning.

My patients never knew it, but they were the reason why I chose to have hope that one day I would be well, or that I could at least reach a place of being able to function somewhat normally again.

For a few weeks, I chewed on my plan to end my miserable existence and eventually, I found my way back to choosing hope. I saw the faintest little light at the end of the tunnel. I decided that I mustn't give up. I ached to see the faces of my children beaming with relief that Mama was well again. I had to hope for that. Maybe I wouldn't just continue to suffer until I was blissfully taken to an early grave. Perhaps there would be a cure for me, or some improvement in my situation. And perhaps not. But it was my choice. It was my prerogative to hope that someday, I might get better. I made the decision to fight.

So I fought. And I won.

That decision to choose hope yet again was in October of 2000. Now, many years later, I've never been in better health. Nor have I ever been so grateful that I chose hope.

And you can choose it, too