DespairIn part one of this series we talked about the fact that you’re not alone in feeling that sense of hopelessness – practically everyone feels it from time to time. Realizing that your feeling this way is the beginning of the process for pulling yourself out. What we’re going to talk about in this part is how you end up feeling that way to begin with and some things you can do to get out of it.

Why we feel hopelessness:

Hopelessness, by definition, means that you’re in a situation with no hope for improvement. Failure is inevitable and there’s nothing you or anyone else can do to change the situation or imminent outcome. This feeling comes from both internal and external sources. Internally, we may have set goals or standards for ourselves that were too aggressive. Externally, someone else may say something (either with or without malicious intent) that makes us feel like we have no options – this a common technique in bulling .

In order for you to overcome that feeling, you need to know why you’re feeling that at that particular moment. Some common reasons:

  • Job loss (such as firing or layoff).
  • Ending of a relationship (especially if it was long term or a divorce).
  • Financial hardships.
  • Illnesses.
  • Actions or words from someone who’s opinion you respect.
  • Not meeting a goal.
  • Getting a bad grade (this is common among people in school).
  • Verbal or physical abuse from a bully.
  • Threats made against you.
  • Making a mistake that has serious consequences.

This is far from an exhaustive list, but the underlying theme is that you didn’t meet an expectation and feel that there’s no way to rectify the situation. For example: in the case of job loss, you failed to remain gainfully employed.

Take another look at this list and look at some of the items that do not currently pertain to you. Each one of these reasons have put people in the most dire of situations. Without making light of these situations, I knew someone who committed suicide over the loss of a job and I knew someone else that did the same because his girlfriend broke up with him. I’ve experienced both (multiple times) and I’m still here and you may have experienced them as well. What may not seem like a big deal to you might be a big thing to me or vice versa – but which one of us right?

Putting it in perspective:

You’ll find that there are very few situations out there where there truly is no glimmer of hope and those are limited to terminal injuries and diseases. Yes, in your situation it might seem like the end of the world but time really does heal all wounds.

When I look back at my younger years, I’m almost embarrassed at the things I used to get upset over: Losing a game, not getting a date with that perfect girl, losing a whopping $10, getting a C- on my report card, not being able to go to that big party, having a disagreement with a friend, etc…. Sure, these things meant a lot to me in high school, but have no bearing on my life now.

Even as an adult, things like losing a job that I absolutely hated seemed like I’d never be able to get through it at the time, but turned out to be a good thing (it was so good, I ended up losing my next job right away). It was a traumatic experience at the time, but now I’m able to simply look back and laugh about it.

The key is just waiting it out until you can look back on it and laugh. If you procrastinate, then put that skill to good use by procrastinating away feeling hopeless.

You can be down about something that doesn’t go your way, but believing that things will always be bad and never get better is the recipe for hopelessness.

In the film “The Crow,” the title character tells a young girl who has had a lot bad things happen to her that “it can’t rain all the time.” Just like storms come to pass, so do the troubles we face in life. People have lost it all and bounced back to greatness. In his book “How to Get Rich,” Donald Trump tells a story about a deal that put his business $9 billion in debt. Shortly after the deal fell through, he walked down the street and passed a homeless man begging for chain. Trump recalls thinking to himself “I envy the guy – he’s $9 billion richer than me.” Within a few years, Trump was bigger than ever with a hit reality TV show and his face constantly in the media.

Yes, we may not all be like Trump, but I’m sure our debt problems are significantly less than $9 Billion. In most cases, our own ingenuity, persistence and drive is enough to get us out of the worst of situations. In other cases, support groups, Samaritans, charities, friends and family members are there for us – we just need to ask.

Pulling yourself out of the abyss:

You alone have the power to find your way out nearly bad situation. The next time you feel like things can never get better do the following:

1. Write the following quotations down on a piece of paper and then read them aloud three times with a big confident grin on your face:

  • It can’t rain all the time.
  • I can find my way out of this.
  • This is a temporary condition, not a permanent one.
  • Other people have made it through similar situations – so can I.
  • In two years, I’ll be able to look back and laugh at how worried I was about this situation.
  • Obstacles are the stepping stones to greatness.

2. Ask yourself the following questions and write down the answers:

  • What are five things I can do right now to pull myself out of this rut?
  • Who are some people that have successfully dealt with these circumstances and how did they do it?
  • What assets (skills, knowledge, relationships, possessions, etc…) do I have that help me with this situation?

3. Sit back, close your eyes and visualize yourself getting through the tough time. Imagine yourself one year in the future and how proud of yourself you are because you made it through

Everyone faces challenges from time to time but we must ensure that we don’t let these challenges take our will to live away. Life really is just a game, so don’t take it too seriously. As self-help guru Tony Robbins says “The past does not equal the future!” so even if things haven’t gone right for you in the past, today is a new day. You can change your life for the better with a simple decision that takes a fraction of a second. So pull yourself out of that rut and show the world why you’re a force to be reckoned with.

Overcoming Hopelessness: Part 2 – Getting Out of the Rut:
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