To live and love is to risk getting hurt, to lose those we love, to be betrayed or victimized, and to lose hope.
But hope is most palpable when you have lost it.
Everyone experiences a period of feeling hopeless at some point in their life. For some, these feelings may last only a moment; for others, they may last for years. We can lose hope in ourselves, our community, humanity, the prospect of finding love and more.
Have you been there? Here are four steps to help you reclaim hope.
Step 1: Grieve what you have lost.
Give yourself time to welcome and “become” all the emotions associated with your loss. Just be mindful not to linger only in grief. Even after you have moved to the next step, allow grief to come up here and there as needed. Lean into your feelings!
Step 2: Get empowered.
To get empowered, you must fully own your participation in your loss so you know how to avoid the same pitfall next time! Take responsibility for your part by asking others involved to give you feedback. Then, make changes in your behavior as needed. Taking responsibility can set you free.
If you do not have an opportunity to get feedback, read as many books or websites on relationships as you can. For example, at the end of one relationship in my past, I would have preferred more time to better understand my role, but the opportunity to process was not available to me. Because the relationship ended in betrayal, I felt hopeless and was repelled by relationships for a long time. So, I read books on the topic and got clear about where I went wrong. I learned what I needed to NOT do again. That was the ticket. I had a burst of instant empowerment. The “hope factor” returned and I was filled with a renewed desire to give relationships another try.
Note: Of course no one asks to lose a loved one in death, nor in most cases is anyone responsible for something as natural as death, and so in those cases we can only manage how we respond to our loss.
Step 3: Have an imagination.
We so often place our hope in the “familiar basket,” clinging to our past or current circumstances rather than being open to a more expansive and creative future.
We allow fear of uncertainty to hold us back from something we have not even imagined that could be beyond our wildest dreams.
Talk to others for inspiration. Sometimes we can’t imagine doing something until we hear that someone else has done it. Take someone out to lunch who has done the thing you want to do.
Also visualize potential. Start seeing through eyes that are wide open, fully awake and innovative. Discover new frontiers. Be brave. Dream big!
Step 4: Take baby steps.
Once you know what you want (and hope glimmers again) break your goals up into small chunks and go after them one piece at a time. For example, if your big dream is to travel to New Zealand, start by figuring out how much money it will cost and then launch a savings program to get you there.
These four steps take time, so be patient and allow the healing process to move at the pace that works best for you. This is not an overnight cure but it does work wonders for rekindling the Hope Factor!
Please leave a comment below — I’d love to hear your ideas on turning up the “Hope Factor” when all the lights seem to have gone out.
We asked experts, authors and readers like you to share their stories of Hope. Every day for the next month, you’ll find new tips for optimism on Gaiam Life, the Stream of Consciousness blog and our social media sites: Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. And don’t miss the GaiamTV.com Hope Film Festival, with FREE films all month long.
A New York City transplant, yoga instructor Amy Ippoliti travels the globe helping people bridge the gap between ancient yogic wisdom and modern-day life. She believes that everyone has the capacity to “turn up their own volume.” Amy is a pioneer for advanced yoga education and the founder of “90 Minutes to Change the World,” a professional development program that has enhanced the teaching and career skills of more than 1,000 yoga teachers worldwide. She has appeared on the covers of Yoga Journal and Fit Yoga Magazine, as well as inside numerous publications including Yoga International, Yoga Journal, Self, New York Magazine, Yogini Magazine (Japan), Allure (Korea) and Elephant Journal. Amy is a faculty member at the Omega Institute and Kripalu. Since the age of 14, Amy has championed all forms of eco-consciousness, rain forest and marine conservation and animals everywhere. Visit her at amyippoliti.com.