“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Desmond Tutu
When I was going through a breakup and divorce, my life was filled with darkness. The end of an eight year marriage, the pressures by our families to stay together and the pending divorce proceedings were overwhelming and soul-crushing.
A blogging friend of mine had been unemployed for a little more than a year. When she left her last job, she didn’t realize that the tanking economy would take her through a roller coaster period of unemployment. The mental and emotional pressures continued to build up month after month.
Another friend from college was diagnosed with breast cancer when she had just turned 34 years of age. With her father’s recent passing and her diagnosis, making it through each day was a struggle.
How do you persevere when your future looks bleak? How do you move forward when you feel like you can’t?
How do you cultivate hope at your life’s absolute lowest points?
When the path seems uncertain and the future dark, cultivate these ten states of mind and beliefs to persist in the darkness:
1. A belief in a better tomorrow. A conviction that what’s happening doesn’t have to always endure. Another day can bring new circumstances, new opportunities and new solutions to improve the situation you find yourself in.
You can’t fall back much farther when you’ve hit the depths of despair.
It can and it usually always does get better.
2. Keep going even when you’re uncertain about the future. One of the scariest feelings you confront is having an indeterminate sense about your future.
How do you ride your bike along an unknown path? How do you forge ahead when you can’t see where you’re going?
Even when you’re uncertain of the path and can’t see in the dark, keep moving forward knowing that you will have more clarity with each step.
You don’t have to know exactly what the future brings, but know that you have more control in what can happen than what occurred in the past.
Trust your intuition and double down on hope knowing that you’ll see glimmers of light and direction soon.
3. Don’t allow roadblocks to halt your journey. As you move forward, you will stumble upon more bumps in the road: obstacles, setbacks and delays.
You can allow these roadblocks to get in the way or you can be determined to move past them and accelerate.
Think of roadblocks as pebbles in your path that can be cleared instead of unmovable boulders that paralyze you.
There is a solution to every obstacle you face. Often, it just takes creativity and persistence to prevail.
4.Life lessons are teachers. Being hopeful means using the problems and challenges which confront you in a positive way.
Each difficulty and obstruction can reveal something to help improve your life.
What is the wisdom that’s contained in the obstacle confronting you?
There is always a lesson there. Your job is to simply find it.
Don’t ask, “why me” or “why did this happen”. Instead, ask: what can I learn from this today?
5.Pain transforms. If you’re going through a throbbing life event that is tearing at your heart and soul, be aware of the tenderness and hurt.
Once again, there are many lessons and insights your life’s most painful events can teach you.
Once you can acknowledge the pain, allow hope to alter the pain into a gift that can be used for the next steps in your life.
If you can view your pain as a gift of steadfastness and strength, you’ll be better prepared for all the current and future hitches you’ll confront in your life.
6.Keep hope thriving. It’s easy to want to give up or throw your hands in desperation. Especially when your pain is protracted or the difficulty is too excruciating to handle.
Even in the darkest of hours, allow hope to lead. Progress ahead. Know that persistence will have its reward. Be open to the idea that circumstances will improve.
Your day will come if you can make it through the unknown and demanding stretches. Those who persist, usually prevail.
Focus on all the positive possibilities.
Just because the current situation worsened doesn’t mean you have no control over the final outcome. Know that you can take action to change the outcome.
Hope demands that you surge onward and keep believing in a better tomorrow even in the most agonizing circumstances.
7. Keep taking small steps forward. Having hope doesn’t mean you simply sit back with an intention of a better tomorrow.
Hope is cultivated through action.
To improve your tomorrow, you must take small steps toward improving the situation today.
Brainstorm ideas with friends and families. Explore options. Seek help and advice. Set the problem aside for some time and come back to it later. Seek inspiration from mentors.
8. Allow for inner growth and development. You may not be able to control what’s happening outside of you, but trying circumstances will help strengthen your inner resolve.
Challenges will help you rely on your ability to persist and develop characteristics in yourself you never know you had.
External circumstances help chip away at the rougher edges of your personality and help you connect with your true self.
When life shakes you up, allow for your truth to be heard, your inner core to be strengthened and for character building.
There is no better time to acknowledge the skeletons in the closet and come to terms with them.
Allow adversity to strength you.
9. Hope is letting go. You can’t control every situation and circumstance.
Hope also means you have to let go and allow circumstances to work out on their own, after you’ve done your part.
It’s releasing expectations of a specific result or demand.
The serenity prayer reminds us that wisdom is knowing the difference between accepting the things that we cannot change and the courage to change the things we can.
Hope is anticipating the best when you have no control over what transpires next.
10.Hope wins. Hope is realizing that many have prevailed with hope.
Hope taught me that with each passing day, my life can transform from sorrow to joy, from pain to wisdom and from loss to clarity.
I could wake up again and see a brighter day – divorce was certainly not the end of the world.
My blogger buddy found work in a more desirable city, closer to her family and with more pay.
My friend from college became cancer-free, changed her perspective on life and is now filled with gratitude for all the small things life has to offer.
Even when circumstances don’t unfold in your favor, the lessons you’ll learn and your inner resolve will create a stronger and more fearless you.
Even when trying circumstances persist and challenge you, rely on hope to make it through the rough days.
Let hope be the lantern you carry to shine the light on the path to a better tomorrow.
* Photo credit @killerturnip
Has hope gotten you through some rough patches in your life? When do you cling onto hope and when do you throw in the towel? Anything I missed on living a life filled with hope? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.