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Last Updated on November 19, 2020

10 Things to Do If You’re Feeling Hopeless About Your Future

10 Things to Do If You’re Feeling Hopeless About Your Future

Whether you’re a mother who wants the best for her children, a hard worker waiting for your promotion, or someone dealing with a personal tragedy such as a job loss, divorce, or losing a loved one, when we are feeling hopeless, we all need to dig deep to make it through these challenges.

However, hope can only be accessed once we get out of our heads and quit over-rationalizing. We need to be truly convinced that better things are in store for us. Even if things may not seem to be going right in the present, we need to believe that there’s a bigger plan that we cannot yet see.

These 10 steps will inspire you and give you the boost of hope that you need to keep going when you’re feeling hopeless about the future.

1. Take a Step Back

If you’re overwhelmed by your emotions, and if the feelings of insecurity are plaguing your mind, it’s a sign that you need to step back and engage in some serious self-care to regroup and honor your feelings.

Go for a walk, speak with a friend, take a mini-vacation, listen to music, meditate, or journal. Do anything that helps you return to center and balance.

Acknowledge and reward yourself for each milestone you reach, no matter how small. Every step you take matters and will bring you closer to your dreams.

Focus on the now by taking conscious, deep breaths and appreciating all that’s in your present moment.

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2. Revisit Your Vision and Goals

If you’ve hit a wall, it would be beneficial to revisit your goals and vision. Take note of the exact goals that you have laid out and remind yourself what inspired you to create them in the first place.

For example, if you want to lose 10 pounds, was it because your doctor recommended it or because you want to get healthier?

The key is to set goals that you’re fired up about and that you’re willing to commit to. Your goals need to be connected to an overarching vision that will galvanize you to overcome any obstacle.

Create a vision board, or write a descriptive and vivid account of what you would like to achieve.

3. Manage Your Expectations

Another possible reason that you’re losing motivation and feeling hopeless is that your expectations are too high. Often, our biggest disappointments occur from having unrealistic expectations. “Unrealistic” doesn’t always mean that you can’t achieve your goals, but that you may need more time or resources to actualize them.

For example, when opening a new store, instead of hoping to make 10K, focus on breaking even and perfecting your system of operations. Set positive and specific goals that feel manageable, especially in the beginning stages. Setting healthy expectations that are easy to reach will encourage you to keep going.

4. Have a Contingency Plan

There’s always a chance that your plans won’t work out as you hoped they would. I know that it’s hard to accept failure as a possibility without getting dejected, especially if it’s important to you.However, I’ve always found that having an alternative plan keeps failure in perspective[1].

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A plan B is like a safety net, there to catch you in case you lose your grip. In creating a contingency plan, it’s essential to assess what went wrong in your previous plan.

What could you have done differently? What are the lessons from the experience that can equip you with the knowledge to get it right the next time around? Ask friends, mentors, and coaches for candid feedback to supplement your own insights.

Let a solid plan B comfort you in knowing that failure is not the end of the road but merely a bend that’s leading you somewhere else.

You can learn how to create a solid contingency plan here.

5. Find Sources of Positive Reinforcement

Hope is like a candle flame that can burn out without constant positive reinforcement. We need reminders to stimulate us with hope about the future. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to be inspired, such as acknowledging our small successes along the way and remembering the times when we were able to overcome obstacles.

You can also find inspiration in books, music, movies, affirmation, and other people’s stories. I also love being in the presence of young children who radiate optimism. Find your own unique sources of motivation that work for you and do your best to stay away from the black hole of social media.

6. Have a Strong Circle of Support

As social beings, we benefit tremendously from having support from a community of people that matter to us when we are feeling hopeless. Friends and family members are the primary lifeline for most of us, but we can also extend our network to include a trusted group of mentors, coaches, counselors, or a support group who are open to hearing our story and who believe in the vision that we have for our life.

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Whenever we’re down and out, these are the people who can be a source of comfort and help us get back in the game.

7. Stay in Touch With Your Vision

It’s easier to feel hopeful when we’re guided by a strong vision for our future. That’s why it’s essential to clarify your vision and future plans.

Goal-setting, vision boards, and visualization are a couple of techniques that can give shape to our dreams. By committing to these practices, our vision will become more tangible and within our reach.

Touching base with our goals will make them feel real and give us a focal point towards which we can direct all of our energy.

8. Stay Well-Informed and Be Proactive

Without knowledge and action, hope is just psychological fluff. Hope should propel us to seek out more information about what we desire and take directed steps towards realizing it.

Knowledge is power, as the saying goes, and it gives us the capacity to make more mindful choices. It strengthens our belief that we have what it takes to influence outcomes and to consciously move forward.

9. Stay Focused on the Present Moment

Hope has a future orientation and can, therefore, direct our thoughts away from the present. It’s essential that you don’t spend too much time planning for the future as this can lead to feeling hopeless.

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Even though we want things to get better, we have to make peace with where we are in our current lives. This quiet acceptance will give us inner peace and prevent us from becoming overly attached to future outcomes[2].

Stay present to overcome feeling hopeless

    The truth is that the present moment is all we’ll ever have, and we should make every effort to capture its beauty and essence as we go through it.

    10. Practice Gratitude

    Gratitude generates a feeling of warmth and abundance. Based on the Law of Attraction[3], the more appreciative that you are for all that you have, material or otherwise, the more you’re likely to attract good things to you and improve your mental health.

    The next time you’re feeling down about the future, take a deep breath and think of all the wonderful things and people around you. You’ll feel an instant shift in how you see your life when you see how many things in your life you can be grateful for.

    You can start spending time with a gratitude journal or think of a few things you’re thankful for on a daily basis.

    The Bottom Line

    The next time you feel hopeless while waiting for things to happen in your life, remember that life is ultimately about the journey and not the destination. Hold your dreams close to your heart, work steadily towards them, but don’t forget to look around you and appreciate the gift of being alive on this beautiful planet.

    More on How to Stop Feeling Hopeless

    Featured photo credit: Jurica Koletić via unsplash.com

    Reference

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    1 10 Things to Do If You’re Feeling Hopeless About Your Future 2 Life Is Pain: Why a Life Without Pain Guarantees True Suffering 3 What the Marshmallow Experiment Teaches Us About Grit 4 10 Habits To Cultivate To Attract Positivity in Life 5 6 Self-Help Methods to Help You Overcome Depression

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    Last Updated on November 18, 2020

    Life Is Pain: Why a Life Without Pain Guarantees True Suffering

    Life Is Pain: Why a Life Without Pain Guarantees True Suffering

    No one wants to suffer, but it’s generally accepted that life is pain. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

    People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains, and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

    But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

    If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared in the early stages.

    Without the feeling of pain, people wouldn’t be aware of dangerous situations—what they should or shouldn’t do for survival. The fact that life is pain is ultimately a good thing for all of us, and here’s why.

    Why Is Life So Painful?

    Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

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    In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

    Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

    While the cliché, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadness— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on when life is pain.

    Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently, but it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example; anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

    No Pain, No Happiness

    You only know happiness when you have known life is pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

    In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all.

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    Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

    In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

    This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

    Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

    Life is pain, and pain is inevitable, so embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfection; and perfection guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

    This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

    Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

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    Allow Room for the Inevitable

    Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

    Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurt. There’s a saying,

    “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

    Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry, and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex-boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

    The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way instead of seeing things in black and white. 

    How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

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    While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future when you see that life is pain.

    You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

    Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

    Why does life hurt? Hopefully now you realize that physical and emotional pain may not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

    To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. It is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future, or at least cope a little more easily when life is pain.

    You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things.

    The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then, take a deep breath and start learning from that pain.

    More on Dealing With Difficulties

    Featured photo credit: Carolina Heza via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
    [2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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