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.
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Why Do We Need Hope?
We need hope to help us get through the difficult phases of life and uplift our morale to give us the courage to deal with the concerns rationally.
Hope is a positive approach towards life that keeps our faith alive. When you are stuck in a grim situation whose outcome is beyond your control, the only thing that keeps you going is hope.
No matter how much we despise getting stuck in a helpless situation, almost everyone has to deal with such instances in their lives. The stress and anxiety are pretty high during such times, and one is left helpless at the mercy of the almighty’s will.
We need hope because it helps us remember that there is still a possibility of a better future or outcome. For some, it proves to be a source of inspiration, while for others, it is the only possible option that they can rely on.
Having hope helps reduce stress and overcome restlessness to focus on the possible options resulting in the desired outcome. Even when you are left with no options, hope lets us believe that “miracles do happen” and thus maintains a positive attitude for a better consequence.
What Are the Symptoms of Hopelessness?
When someone is feeling stuck in a situation or where the outcome of an event is not in their control, they might show signs of hopelessness. Such people often feel as if they are stuck in a deep dark hole from where it is almost impossible to climb out. This leads them to display certain signs or form unusual habits.
Here are some of the common symptoms of hopelessness:
- People with a sense of hopelessness will lose interest in regular life activities that they had no problem dealing with before. Finding it difficult to leave the bed, skipping meals, not taking baths regularly, etc., are common symptoms of hopelessness.
- Isolation is another common symptom of hopelessness. People feeling hopeless tend to disconnect themselves from their regular acquaintances of friends or family.
- Hopeless people feel powerless. They tend to show signs of having no control over any other activities of their lives.
- Other common symptoms of hopelessness are substance abuse (alcohol, drugs, etc.), overeating, consuming unhealthy meals, and oversleeping.
- In some extreme cases, people showcase suicidal tendencies.
10 Steps to Take When You’re Feeling Hopeless
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
When To Seek Help?
If you find yourself in a jam where you feel extremely hopeless and stuck in the vicious cycle of negativity, realize that it is time to seek help.
Many even reach the extent where they contemplate taking extreme steps like suicide or hurting themselves. If you are going through any such situation, it would be wise to get help from a professional who can help you feel better.
You can try talking to your close ones first if needed and then solicit their advice about whether you should take up professional help to get over it. If needed, you can take someone along to the sessions. You must seek immediate help if you find the situation getting worse day by day.
Professional treatment is found to be very effective in helping people to deal with hopelessness.
How To Help Someone Who Feels Hopeless?
There are more than a few ways to help someone feeling hopeless. You might want to help out a friend or a family who is in such a predicament. Obviously, you would want them to come out of this mental illness or state and help them get back to normal.
You must always start by determining how deeply the person is affected by the situation and their signs of hopelessness. If it is a case of extreme hopelessness where they may contemplate suicide, you must involve the authorities to take immediate action without any delay. You should also advice diagnosis or treatment to the patient.
However, many others going through hopelessness respond to a sympathetic conversation. Sometimes talking about the situation helps them feel better and maybe realize that they need to change their approach.
Refrain from being too judgemental and offering unsolicited advice without knowing exactly how they feel. On many occasions, such people open up during the conversation and indicate how they would like to be helped.
Letting them know that they do not have to deal with the situation alone is another great way to help them feel better. If you mean it, then tell them that you are in this together and will stick with them till the end to them get through it.
If you feel that your words and advice are reaping no results, then maybe you should guide them to seek professional help or support groups. Some people just need a minor nudge into a proper direction to help them towards their journey to recovery from hopelessness.
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
- How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up
- Stuck in a Rut? 6 Steps to Break Free and Live a Happy Life Again
- Feeling So Stuck in Life That You’re About to Give Up? Help is Here!
Featured photo credit: Jurica Koletić via unsplash.com
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