What makes us lose hope? In my experience, it often comes from repeated disappointment. We lose a friend, our health, our jobs, our families - and suddenly we don’t know what life is meant to look like anymore. In fact, we did hope at some point, but reality turned out to be so starkly different from what we wanted that we feel a profound sense of loss on whether or how we should hope again.
Hopelessness is a very scary thing. The more we entertain it, the larger it looms. But - and this may violate every bit of what we feel right now - if there’s just one tiny reason for hope, it may be worth clinging onto it. Desperately. For our sanity’s sake. It’s so easy to entertain hopelessness, tossing over and again in our heads how pain is a given; this tossing stems from our deep fears and hurts, and somehow we think that conjuring the worst versions of events prepares us to face their inevitability and closes us off to disappointment. But that kind of self-talk doesn’t help; in fact, it brings us even further away from reality and recovery, and spirals us deeper into hopelessness.
However we feel, it may be worth just carrying the possibility that there is still hope and meaning… no matter how slim. If the reason for hope is too large and far away, and even if it fails us at some point, we could shift our eyes to something smaller - one we can hold onto realistically, and even work towards - and hope again in that direction. Sometimes hope takes the form of a broad, compelling goal; sometimes it requires fulfilling the littlest steps towards recovery. It may seem far from us at first, but keeping at it could actually save us in the longer term.
In a broader sense, hope also means casting our eyes further to know that even if our specific situation doesn’t turn out okay, life as a whole could still work out. Yes, it could really suck for now... but our lives are likely not going to depend entirely on that thing or person turning out the way we wanted it to. I’m talking about even seemingly major things like our jobs, life partners, or investments. We move on, and we can and will make something good come out of our pain.
We don’t have to let a failure or weakness at this moment define us or our entire life. We will be okay.
And even if we’re not okay, a little bird told me life has always been a cycle of ups and downs anyway. We may be down now, but there will be ups, and then downs, and then more ups again. The crucial thing to realise is that we are not powerless, and we often have more choices than we think. Let’s give ourselves another chance at winning, and work on things if we have to.
In the bigger scheme of things, everything could work out.