Dynamic Choices » Family Wellness

What If Despair is Only Unfed Hope?

Have you ever found yourself in a state of despair – a place where you can’t see a way forward in your situation and feel you have run out of options?  What do you do then?  Do you throw up your hands and give up, accepting your situation as hopeless or do you continue to look for a ray of hope somewhere new?

What we call despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope.

George Eliot

This quote by George Eliot speaks to what I believe to be true – that it is having a sense and belief in the power of hope that enables us to persevere in the midst of difficult situations.  When we lapse into despair, , it is often only because we have lost our sense of hope that things can be different.  When we find ways to rekindle that hope, our feelings of despair lighten and we can again find the courage to take a step forward.

How do you rekindle hope?  I believe there are 3 things we must do:

  1.  Take a few minutes to reflect on the other places and times in our life when we felt despair and hopelessness yet were able to rise and find solutions and hope again.  We all have places in our life where we have successfully navigated challenges and it is very helpful to reflect on the courage we had then to keep going.  These past experiences also offer clues on what we did, what worked and didn’t work, and some ideas on what we might try in our current situation.
  2. Be willing to ask for help from some safe person who will lend a hand. Some compassionate support without judgment or a need to fix our problem from someone who cares, can make a our load feel much lighter.  Going it alone is very difficult when we feel overwhelmed and afraid.  A little support and a new perspective from someone else can lessen our fear that our situation is hopeless.
  3. The courage to take a step forward – any step – without fear that it will be the “wrong” one.  The inertia of feeling stuck and afraid to make a decision is common when we are in a state of despair.  Any movement forward we take, no matter how small, helps overcome this inertia.  It matters less that we make a perfect decision than that we make a choice to take some type of action. Once we begin to move forward, additional steps seem easier to make.

So, whether your feelings of despair are coming from an overwhelming health challenge in a family member, a runaway life you can’t seem to control, or feelings of loneliness that you can’t overcome, look for ways to feed and cultivate your own hope and see if your sense of despair might just begin to lighten.