I understand, you are not the only one feeling apprehensive, even scared. It is true; there are a lot of things going on out there that we have no idea what they are about. Out of the need for security we try to guess and believe we know something, but all the outside information is second hand biased information. We truly have everything we need to know inside us already. However, we don’t believe our Higher Self because we were raised to ignore our own voice and believe what was told to us. The point is that it is time to ignore the people who are trying to make up our minds. I am not saying we should live in denial. What I am saying is we have an internal GPS, a truth check that is far better than any information we can get online.
There are so many words that we say with an empty heart or the opposite, in despair, that sometimes we forget the real meaning of them. With all the chaos that has been surrounding us for a while, if there is a word and its true value we need now, it is Hope!
There is a popular saying that says “The darkest hour is just before the dawn!” Many believe we are experiencing this process. Take media, for example, 99% of its message is negative. They take advantage of the fact that as human-beings, we think negatively. Many studies show we have between 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts a day and, basically, 80% are negative. One of the explanations for this is that our brain was wired for detecting danger. Our ancestors had to be in constant vigilance in order not to be a dinosaur’s meal. Today we don’t have dinosaurs anymore, we have media, which spread fear, despair and chaos. Most of us buy it due to our deep ingrained fears and social conditioning.
On the other hand, we are living in a transitional time, we are passing from one era to another and if we look behind and check history, we see that nothing is forever, everything changes. Change is the only constant in our lives. This is one of the paradoxes of life. Transitioning times can be filled with fear and despair, but can also be filled with hope. We have both of them working in our minds. Yet, we have the power to choose which one we are going to feed. We have the choice to believe in everything is being told to us or check with our Higher Selves what is true and what is not during our daily meditation. We also can ask our angels for discernment.
We give our power away when we live only in the external world. We ignore our feelings, our emotions and the divine whisper in us called intuition. We let ourselves be a programmable robot by allowing our subconscious mind to be fed with drama. Remember, the subconscious mind has no filter, it takes everything literally. It also is responsible for 90% of our behaviors. So, who is truly running the show? The result is that we become afraid of what is inside us. We believe we need someone to tell us the truth, even though the truth is within us already. We believe the evil is out there to catch us, when in truth the evil resides within our ego-mind. We believe there must be a hero or a savior that will come to rescue us from our immaturity and ignorance and if we behave in a certain way we will be rewarded for that. We are already saved; the point is, are we accepting it or not? This way we never become true mature human-beings and we start repeating a story that happened more than two thousand years ago: punishing the righteous and rewarding the wicked. But how can we switch gears? How can we make it different?
According to Wikipedia, “Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large.” Also, according to Merriam-Webster, Hope means a “desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.” Thus, it is easy to understand why people are so hopeless, they are surrounded by negativity 24/7.
It is our responsibility to change our choices from watching negativity on TV to reading a good book or even doing some yoga, or just meditating. It is our choice to surround ourselves with supportive people or at least being assertive with the people that we live with. Sometimes we need help from a professional (from a counselor to a healer) and that is great! Thankfully there are professionals who can help us to become aware and conscious! Asking for help is a sign of maturity. But sometimes all we need is an article like this, which can help us to create our own bundle of hope.
When I was studying addiction counseling, I came across an interesting study from the University of Northern British Columbia about hope in substance abuse counseling. That was fascinating! Normally we focus on the behavior, which is just the tip of the iceberg. It was delightful to read about an attribute that is essential to the human’s survival. It seems a much more humanized research. Now we are talking about human beings, not just behaviors! Thus, the analogy I am showing here is that even in a desperate situation like a substance abuse, which sometimes seems to be hopeless, we have the power to change it if we cultivate hope, that “desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment,” defined by Merriam Webster dictionary.
In his book The Power Of Habit, Charles Duhigg says that in order to establish a habit we need a cue, a routine, and a reward. According to the author, we don’t eliminate a habit, be it good or bad, we only substitute it. So, we are always going to seek for reward after sensing a cue. Thus, the secret to install a healthy and positive habit is to change the routine, since we will always have a cue and a reward.
He also mentions the importance of a support group. A group of like-minded people can operate miracles because we don’t feel lonely anymore, we don’t think that we are the weird ones, the only ones to feel in that way. Actually, there are many people going through the same situation. Somehow, we are all scared; some more, others less, but living with uncertainty all the time can be draining even for the most detached person; unless the person is living in denial. Thus, reaching out for a group or start our hope group is an important step in building the habit of hope in the everyday life.
In the study that I mentioned above, I remember that one way we build up hope is by setting small, achievable, and realistic goals for our daily tasks. Regarding this step, I remember the military man that suggested us to make our beds every morning because if by the end of the day we could not accomplish anything else, at least we had made our bed. I truly think it is a great idea because our bedroom is the externalization of what is going on inward. As we start taking care of our bedroom or house, we start taking care of ourselves, which in turn, is a sign of hope.
The studies about the quantity and quality of our thoughts also show that 95% of our negative thoughts are repetition of the thoughts we had in the previous day; in other words, they are rumination and preoccupation, which in the vast majority of the time never happens. This way we create a stressful aura of pessimism around us that will lead us to many health and behavioral problems, including chronic diseases and addiction.
Since the cues are always going to be there, how about changing our routine? Besides having or creating a like-minded people group, we can watch less TV, we can reduce and limit the time we spend on social media, we can read a good book or watch a good comedy, we can organize our room, our house or our office, or listen to our favorite songs. We can dance to melt negativity around us, we can attend a restorative yoga class, or a meditation group in person or online. Women’s groups or circles stimulate hope and resilience. Practicing our favorite sport with a friend or more in a cooperative environment is fun! Learning to cook for ourselves and loved ones is an act of love that result in better health, while helping us save some money. It is fun to try new and different recipes and cook with family or friends. Doing arts & crafts can be a change in routine and also a good reward because it helps us to focus in the present moment, where our true power resides. Walking the dog or playing with your cat is far healthier than reading trash news. How about playing with the children? Find appropriate age activities and have fun! Have you ever tried to write positive stick notes and spread around the house or the office? It doesn’t need to be visible to anyone. You can place them inside drawers, cabinets, closet, purse, coat, and so on.
Every time we set up an activity moved by a desire to feel good and we do it, it doesn’t matter how small it is, it helps us to enhance our hope and make it a reality. We can also spread this hope by sharing our experiences with others and coaching them to build up their own hope. After all we feel better when people are feeling better too. Contentment is a hope byproduct and it is contagiously wonderful!
Duhigg, C., The Power Of Habit – Why We Do, What We Do In Life and Business, 2012
O’Neill, L., Sherry, J., Hope-Focused Interventions in Substance Abuse Counseling, 2011