If-youre-reading-thisNothing stops you from pursuing your dreams like the weight of hopelessness. It’s so heavy, it makes it hard to get out of bed, or meet your friend for a tea, or even pick up the phone. Sometimes people write to me and they feel desperately alone and sad. They’ve given up on themselves, on other people, on life itself. Most of them include the same question, “What’s the point of it all?” When you’re feeling off-center, life can really take you for a spin.

So many experiences befall us as humans that are hard to bear, or even to understand. There’s no shortage of things that can happen to bring a person to this point; most of us will feel this to some degree at one time or another. After all, there are times things seem so absurd. Can there really be 108 million people in our country helping the weight-loss industry make $20 billion dollars a year, when a billion people on the planet are undernourished? Is it any wonder when we feed ourselves a steady diet of, “you’re not good enough”? Do you ever stop and think about the messages we’re bombarded with all day every day, even if you do your best to watch what you feed yourself? I’m not talking about just food. Even if you don’t watch television, standing on line at the checkout counter at your supermarket can be a depressing experience. Catching just one awful headline about someone screwing up their life can be enough to lower your own vibration, or catching a glimpse of someone’s glossy, “perfect” life can also make you feel badly about yourself if you’re feeling vulnerable. Social media can be amazing if you’re selective about what you like and what you read, but it can also make you feel like crap if you aren’t careful. There are all kinds of ways you might allow yourself to be pummeled by the idea that you suck, and that could suck the hope out of anyone. A deluge of that stuff, day after day, year after year takes its toll, especially if you’re going through challenging times.

Your personal history comes into play here as well. We all have pain, but some people have more than others. We all have healing to do, but if you’re coming out of abuse or neglect, it’s very likely you’ll have to do some work to unlearn the lies you may have come to believe, such as, you aren’t worthy of love, or you’re a mistake, or no one could ever love you. You might think people suck, or everyone cheats, or everyone leaves, or you can’t trust anyone. You might believe the idea that the trauma you’ve been through has rendered you broken and unlovable. Those are all lies. You might need some help to look at things in a different way if that’s what you’re grappling with; sometimes we’ve been in defense mode so long, we don’t know how to open anymore. Maybe something has happened that’s turned your world on its head — maybe you’ve lost your job, or you’ve been betrayed, or you’ve lost someone you don’t know how to live without. Any of these things can make a person feel hopeless, and doubt not just their ability to face reality as it is, but also to ever enjoy life again.

The tendency when we feel hopeless is to deny the experience, to numb out or run away, or push it down or sleep it off, or to throw ourselves into work or relationships with a kind of desperation. Please let someone or something save me from these awful feelings that make my heart hurt and my head explode. No one can save you, nor can you save anyone. Everyone has to save themselves, and that means everyone has to figure out how to open to the truth of their own experience. If you can’t sit with your deepest pain and lean into it, it will own you, and you’ll never know yourself, which is the loneliest feeling in the world. That’s a hope-killer, being a stranger to yourself. If you aren’t able to examine your feelings as they arise, you’ll never release the heat of them, you’ll never find the freedom to open to love, and that is also a hope-killer. Without hope and without love, life is dark and something to endure. When you take that route, it’s guaranteed suffering and isolation. Running from yourself is like running from your shadow. You’ll never get away, and you’ll never be able to stop and rest.

If you want to find your hope again, you’ll have to sit through the knifing pain, first, or the discomfort, rage, shame, guilt, fear, doubt, or grief of your current reality, or your long-ago past. Things that help: people in your life who love you, real moments with people you know, or absolute strangers, taking the time to breathe in and breathe out consciously, reading, writing, hiking, weeping, anything that brings you into your body, whether it’s yoga, or salsa dancing or swimming. Being kind to yourself, and remembering to turn your attention to anything good that is happening, that you do have, no matter how simple or small. The ability to watch the sunrise or sunset. Food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a place to call home, at least one person who knows you and accepts you as you are, who really gets you. (You can be that person for yourself). We all have work to do. Feed any tiny bit of gratitude you can, because hope lives there. Give it even the tiniest bit of foundation, and it will start to grow for you. Hope brings energy. When you have energy and just a sliver of hope, you’ll probably get out of bed, and maybe you’ll even make it to the shower. Perhaps you can look out the window and let in the light. Eventually, you’ll find you want to take that call, you want to meet for tea, you want to believe that people are good, and you are good, and life is good. Which is nice, because those are not lies. As long as you’re breathing, there’s still the hope of turning things around, and finding your way back to love; that’s your center.

Sending you some right now,

Ally Hamilton

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