Hope: Rising from the Pain of Loss

Sometimes you have no choice but to experience loss. It’s thrust upon you, always at an inconvenient time—because there’s no convenient time to experience loss.

Whether it’s in the form of an object, an opportunity, or a human, loss is a messy, painful process.

You are forced to face who you are at your worst when something or someone important to you is stripped away.

When it occurs, you will have one of two reactions: feelings of helplessness, or feelings of hope.

Your thought patterns in one camp or another become ingrained from a very young age. If you feel that you have some semblance of control over a situation, you are likely to experience a learned pattern of hopefulness. When you feel out of control, you start to feel hopeless, and the older you get, the more that reaction of despair becomes automatic.

If you have lived through any major setback—losing a job, losing a house, a breakup, a death, any type of failure—you KNOW that circumstances change, and things get better. After all, here you are.

Yet sometimes, no matter how many setbacks you have overcome, you may still hang onto the belief that things won’t get better. Pessimism like that is not only harmful, it’s plain false.

Its opposite, optimism, is the belief that what we are experiencing is temporary. And when I say optimism, I’m not talking about blind faith, fake happiness, or living with rose-colored glasses. Let’s be real: life is a series of problems. Every step presents a new set. And it can be exhausting.

But you can equip yourself to have an easier time handling the never-ending onslaught of problems life throws at you. If you tend to fall into despair know that it’s possible to change your emotional response, and instead to rise with hope.

Hope is one of the most powerful emotions. Hope is the candle in the darkness of suffering.

You will experience more loss in your life. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. Everything is temporary. Everyone is temporary.

And, every high and every low is temporary—if you believe it will be. If you believe that your feelings of disappointment, discouragement, sadness, anger, frustration, are permanent, then you will carry them around until you decide to put them down. Until you decide to look for emotions to replace them.

The reasons to do so are incredibly powerful: hope is a component of resilience. Those with more resilience have better health, perform better at work, reach higher levels of education…they are happier, more successful individuals. And the opportunity to reach these levels is available to EVERYONE.

The first step is recognition. It’s noticing which camp you fall into when you experience a setback or loss. Afterward, know that if you want to change your initial reaction, it's fully within your power to do so.

When you look for hope, you stand a chance of finding it. When you stop looking, you guarantee that you won’t.