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Hopeless is an interesting word.
It’s interesting because there are two very different perceptions of hopelessness that you can often see to reach out to the hopeless.
First, you have the people trying to spark a light in the absolute darkness that is utter hopelessness, the kind of darkness where there is a total lack of oxygen and fuel to take the spark.
It’s the kind of emptiness where nothing exists: there are no positives to look forward to, there are no negatives currently tearing you to pieces. It’s just empty darkness, like floating aimlessly in outer space directly into a black hole.
And then you have hopelessness as a stark fear of your situation not improving, where you’re not so severe that you’re still able to actually feel emotions like hopelessness.
It might be that a lot of things haven’t worked out, or maybe you’ve been stuck in a bad situation for a long time, or maybe you’re just going through a lot right now. Maybe it’s something chronic, like having a terminal illness, where all you can do is accept the situation.
Hopeless covers a lot of territory – and we’re bringing that up for a reason. This is a list of things to do when you feel hopeless that will help you find a way to survive and progress against whatever you’re facing.
We want to reinforce that this cannot possibly be an exhaustive list. We want to reiterate that if you are hopeless, read this list and find nothing that connects with you; that doesn’t mean that there isn’t something out there to help you.
The fact of the matter is, if you feel hopeless, you should seek professional help from a certified mental health professional to get to the core of why you feel hopeless and address it.
That kind of extreme feeling is not something you’ll be able to fix on your own. And even though we can give you some information on trying to survive and crawl forward, we can’t provide specific advice that will help you address whatever trauma, mental illness, or problems are fueling your hopelessness.
You will need professional help. If you are ready to find some, click here to speak to an accredited and experienced therapist via BetterHelp.com.
If you can’t afford help, call around to different providers and ask about charity-based services for no or low-income people or sliding fees. There may be help available through funding that isn’t visible to the public eye.
In the meantime, let’s talk about some strategies to surviving this hopelessness until you can get out of the hole.
1. The power of distraction.
Hopelessness is a state that gets worse the more you dwell on it. That means that idle time or too much time to think can be an enemy of progress.
A good way to get through it is to distract yourself with something else and force yourself out of the habits you would normally have while in that dark mental space.
For example, if you curl up in bed and stare at the wall, force yourself to go out and about somewhere.
Go to a local park or shopping center, sit, and take in the scenery. Focus on different elements in what you’re seeing. Look at the traffic, the animals, the people, anything that might be going on. Focus instead on that, rather than feeding the hopelessness.
Get out and exercise. Go out and have dinner. Watch a movie. Do just about anything other than sit and dwell on the feelings. That will make them worse.
Do NOT turn to drugs and alcohol to numb the emptiness. Self-medicating through substance abuse is such a common thing, but you want to avoid it if you can. That creates an additional problem that you’ll eventually need to deal with. The party always ends sooner or later.
2. Create an actionable plan.
Sometimes hopelessness stems from a lack of direction. Mental health problems like depression can cause a person to become rooted in place because they lack the energy or motivation to move forward.
One way to combat this is to create an actionable plan of attainable goals that will move you in the direction you need to go.
For example, let’s say that you want to find a therapist. There is a series of steps that you can take toward accomplishing that goal. Jump on the internet, search for therapists in your area, look at the information you find online, call the different providers, get an appointment scheduled, and then actually go to the appointment when it rolls in.
That kind of planning can be applied to anything from finding a therapist to ordering a pizza, to looking for a job.
And it is helpful to have that plan and list in hand when your brain tells you that nothing is worth doing, and that everything is pointless.
3. Remind yourself that your brain might be lying to you.
There are a lot of mental health conditions that distort the way we feel and interpret the world.
Sometimes a mental illness will create completely false emotions and distorted thoughts to support those emotions. And when we jump on those thought processes and flow with them, it’s easy to get wrapped up in how true they feel.
But, often, they aren’t true. Most problems can be addressed and solved. Sure, there are negative situations that are thoroughly unpleasant, but it won’t always be that way. Things will eventually change, one way or another.
Anchor yourself back to reality by reminding yourself that these feelings may not accurately reflect your situation.
You may be in a situation where you aren’t sure how to move forward, and that’s okay. There are answers out there somewhere; it might just take some more time and effort to find them.
4. Argue for hope.
Hopelessness is often a state of powerlessness, feeling as though you cannot effectively change or things will not get better. Those feelings can stem from a bad life situation, mental illness, or being overwhelmed by what you’re presently experiencing.
One way that you can push back against all of that is to argue with yourself for hope. Focus on things that you can change, what you might be able to attain, what opportunities you may be able to create for yourself in the future. Things may be bad now, but they don’t have to stay that way.
You may also want to try looking at inspirational people or people who have accomplished the goals that you’re looking for.
There are a lot of people who have managed to overcome some terrible circumstances, and you can do that too. It’s certainly not going to be easy or fun, but it is still there for you.
5. Confide in a trusted friend or family member.
Sometimes it helps to air out the negative thoughts to give them less power. Talking to someone you trust can provide a much-needed reprieve from negative feelings.
They may provide a different, more balanced perspective that isn’t rooted in the negativity or emptiness of hopelessness.
And even if they can’t necessarily provide help, it can be good to have someone sit with you in your struggles for a little while, if for no other reason than to remember you aren’t alone.
Now, if you don’t have a trusted friend or family member, you may want to consider a support group or online forum where you can be around other people that have similar struggles as you. Just being around other people who are going through similar things can be comforting at times.
6. Focus on things that you can appreciate.
There are probably things in your life that you appreciate. That might be good music, a hobby, another person, an experience you overcame; whatever works so long as it’s something you can appreciate.
Spend some of your time with the thing that you appreciate. Focus on gratitude for the thing and remind yourself of the better parts of life.
The hopelessness may be something that is just throwing you off at the moment as you experience a dip in your mental health. That gratitude and appreciation for whatever things resonate with you can help temper off the negative feelings.
7. Seek out professional help.
As we previously mentioned, hopelessness is a pretty serious emotion that can point to different problems.
If you are experiencing hopelessness, it would be a good idea to talk to a certified mental health professional to address the underlying reasons. You can click here to connect with one of the experienced therapists on BetterHelp.com.
Don’t give in to those negative feelings. Things will change, sooner or later. They always do.
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