There are different periods in life. It would be strange to score points all the time and move up in your career, strengthen your relationships, jump on and earn new and exciting hobbies, like parachuting or playing at an online casino. When everything is sweet, there won’t be a taste. But what about when you’re not just bitter, you don’t know how to move on. If optimism isn’t your forte, try pumping up the skill of hope. There is such a thing, too.
What Is Hope
When we hope, we believe that tomorrow will be better than today. This very knowledge may be unfounded, but it’s empowering. Hope is a natural defense mechanism. Everyone has it, but not everyone knows how to use it.
Viktor Frankl was a concentration camp survivor, and his observations of himself and other prisoners became the basis of a new trend in psychotherapy. Logotherapy is a therapy of meanings that restores hope. Roughly speaking, it’s a search for answers to the “why” so that it’s easier to find your “how.
Learning to Hope
Viktor Frankl argues that character in a concentration camp may have been deformed not by the harsh conditions, the treatment of the warders, or even the aggressive behavior that is common to all of us in low-resource settings. People changed because of their inner attitude. Those who had no foothold left were the ones who went down.
Frankl himself firmly believed that time in a concentration camp would end, and imagined himself behind a lecture chair. He saw the eyes of the students, felt the jacket on his shoulders, and imagined the camp reality as the past. So if it’s not easy for you right now, imagine yourself as fully and vividly as possible where you’d like to be:
- What are you doing?
- How do you look?
- How do you feel?
- How do you feel in your body?
- What qualities do you possess?
- Who is around you?
- What kind of relationships do you have?
- What words do you hear?
- What is going on around you?
Draw your perfect day and imagine it not in the future, but in the present. As if you already have it all.
The method has limitations. Sometimes it’s impossible to predict when you’ll get the state you want. As much as you want to have what you want by New Year’s Day, the first of the year, or a year from now, you can be wrong in your predictions. And it destroys hope. Death rates in the concentration camp where Viktor Frankl was held were particularly high during Christmas week. It was because the prisoners imagined themselves at the holiday table with their families. So don’t schedule time to keep believing.
A Few More Ways to Practice Hope
- Fracture Actions. Mastering a new remote profession is harder than listening to a podcast about trends. Take a small triggering step and you’ll see that the second one isn’t so scary anymore. If you feel like you don’t even have the energy for micro action right now, check to see if it’s physical or mental fatigue. For example, just walk to the gym for starters. If surrounded by shells and other people you still don’t feel the energy to do anything, leave the gym. Most likely it’s a matter of real physical fatigue. But if you’re able to walk for 10 minutes on the track – go for it, you might be able to keep going.
- Share your experiences. It’s not about whining to your mom or a close friend. If you need to talk – do it once, make yourself roar and yell to the maximum and then put an end to it. Next, start looking for ways to change your situation. Discussions are notoriously quicker to do this. Try a community of interest, yoga and meditation practices, board games or group therapy.
- Relax. In a situation of uncertainty, you need more resources, which means you need to find them and replenish your batteries more often and more intensely than usual. Set aside judgments like “now is not the time,” and simply make a list of things to do that give you energy and inspiration. It doesn’t have to be skydiving or left-handed knitting, wandering in the park and rustling leaves is fine too.
Hard times happen to everyone. Instead of getting stuck in anxious thoughts and trying to take rash actions in a panic, start taking care of yourself. Restore your physical and mental equilibrium with proper rest.