Hope-filled Thinking

Each of us has experienced the ups and downs of hope. Some days we are filled with hope for our future, and other days, it seems like all hope is lost.
Hope can feel like a roller coaster.
  • I hoped to get that job…only to miss out.
  • I hoped to make the team…only to be let down.
  • I hoped to get a scholarship…only to receive a letter of rejection.
  • We hoped to see our kids avoid some to the mistakes that other kids were making…only to be heart broken.
  • We hoped to get pregnant…only to have miscarried again.
  • We hoped the cancer screening would be negative…only to find out the cancer had returned.
There are times when hope seems certain. At other times, it seems foolish to cherish any desire with anticipation. We have all been there, and at times we have all felt hope slip away in sadness and disappointment. How did we get there—what happened? More importantly, how do we avoid the emotional rollercoaster and the loss of hope in the future? How do we move forward though life’s unexpected turns with consistent, hope-filled thinking?

During any circumstance where hope is hard to find, we need the security that we are not alone! Whether we are challenged in our relationships, our job, our parenting, our faith, our finances, or health, hope can be more easily found when we reach out vulnerably and share how we are feeling with someone we trust.

Relationships are the key.

Losing hope is a symptom of being alone. Think about it: When you are feeling down, what helps you feel genuinely better? Is it a family member who enters your world with care and compassion? When you are struggling to achieve a goal, isn’t it amazing how your perspective changes when a friend comes alongside to help or encourage you?

Take a look at this Pain and Potential graphic and think about where you find yourself most often.
Are you often on the top half of the graphic or often at the bottom?
Here is the good news: We can move from the pain side of this chart to the potential…with the help of a close family member or friend!

Notice the bridge between the pain and potential is “Relational Needs.” Here’s why: Each person has a unique mix of the relational needs. When these needs are met, we find ourselves on the top of the Pain and Potential chart reveling in hope-filled thinking, positive emotions, and productive behaviors. When our relationship needs go unmet, we find ourselves on the bottom of the Pain and Potential chart where we often slip into faulty thinking, painful feelings, and unproductive behaviors.

For more on relational needs and an assessment to determine your top three, CLICK HERE.

So, where do you start?

1. With your own courageous vulnerability. 
Take initiative. BE the friend/spouse/family member that you need. Take initiative to make a phone call, video chat, or send a text. Be the first one to reach out! Hope-filled thinking becomes difficult when we are alone, so put yourself out there first. Be courageously vulnerable with words like, “Hey, would you like to get together for coffee? I’d love to hang out!”

2. After you have reached out, lead with gratitude. 
This is a second key that unlocks hope. Be sure to share your gratitude for your friend or loved one. Tell them why you’re glad they’re in your life. Share how you are feeling about this person. This not only benefits the hearer; it trains your brain towards positivity. Recent studies on the neuroscience of positivity clue us in to how gratitude smooths out the roller coaster of hope. Dr. Robert Emmons, a psychologist and professor at UC Davis, said, “In the face of serious life situations…if people are grateful, they recover faster.” Here is a link to listen to Dr. Emmons. 

We can be more hope-filled more often when we are courageously vulnerable and lead with gratitude. The rollercoaster of life truly can feel more like a joy-filled ride!

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