My clients believe I’m in the management consulting, coaching, outplacement, career counseling, and corporate training business.
That’s not true.
I’m in the hope business.
I spend my days giving others hope.
Hope that communication will get better with their coworkers.
Hope that their ideas for increasing business will work.
Hope that their unemployment will be short lived, and they will find a job that brings meaning to their lives.
I offer hope through my one-on-one coaching, my group presentations and my writing.
And these days I’m very, very busy.
Hope, it seems, is suddenly in short supply.
Where Does Hope Go?
In the media and in print the stories seem to have no end. Businesses in trouble, people out of work, houses being foreclosed. People are seemingly resigned that their fate is in someone else’s hands, and there is nothing they can do about it.
What happens that causes us to finally give in, give up and begin to lose hope?
Hope is closely tied to confidence, and confidence is directly tied to the messages we give ourselves on a daily basis about what we believe to be doable and possible.
When the message is a positive one, “That will work. That was a good idea, etc.” hope is in good supply.
When the message changes, the hope supply begins to dwindle. Our positive affirmations are replaced with less hopeful ones, such as “What if it doesn’t work?” “What if the worst thing that could happen does happen?”
In a hopeless state we begin to think in extremes. We decide on our own that there are no jobs, that any business could fail any day, that everyone is struggling, that no idea we have will work.
Forget that that information is often blatantly untrue. (ex. There are currently approximately 150 million people working in the United States. That’s more than the population of many countries.)
In spite of information that might contradict our fears, we become convinced that the worst is here and we begin to play this message over and over again in our minds.
Because our brains cannot differentiate between something we vividly imagine and something that is actually happening, negative thoughts that get repeated begin to feel real.
When this happens, hope temporarily vanishes.
How Do We Get Hope Back?
The short answer is: Change the way you think.
When we change the way we think, we change the message from negative to positive and it is the positive self-talk that allows us to have hope.
For hope to return, you need to think the way you think when you’re feeling hopeful. One of the easiest ways to do that is to remember a time when you refused to have anything but hope.
I remember the day each of our three children was born. It was one of the most hopeful days of my life. My world was full of possibilities rendering me all but immune to any negative thoughts. If I had learned my house had burned down, I would have probably remarked, “That’s OK, we’ll get another house…”
I was forward looking, focused on the positive and in a state of thankfulness and gratitude. It is hard NOT to feel hopeful in that state of mind.
Maybe you have a hard time thinking of hope-filled moments. Maybe you don’t view yourself as a particularly hopeful person. If that is the case, find someone who is. Most of us know or have met people who appear to be optimistic and positive. Find one or two of those people. Ask them how they stay positive, mimic what they do and begin to act “as if” you are feeling hopeful.
After a short period of time, you’ll find yourself actually feeling more hopeful.
But don’t take my word for it.
Hope may be in short supply for others but it need not be a missing part of your life.
Choose to focus on what you have. Choose to focus on what works. Choose to focus on what is good about your life.
In doing so you will create a sense of hopefulness that will enable you to not only survive but actually thrive in these very challenging times.