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The future seems bleak for a lot of people.
War, poverty, inflation, debt, climate change; all these things and more can pull you down into a dark hole of hopelessness that is hard to escape from.
That’s not even considering if you have additional mental or physical health problems that may add to the weight.
And sometimes, it’s a chicken or egg situation. Am I depressed because of the state of the world? Or is the state of the world making me depressed? It’s a difficult question and one not likely to be answered.
The good news is that there are ways to combat the hopelessness and find your way out of the pit. It’s not easy, and it takes regular effort. You’ll have to come to terms with a lot, even if you don’t like it. Sometimes we can’t avoid that, unfortunately.
Still, brighter days are hopefully coming. So, what can we do to make those days brighter?
1. Embrace mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a hot topic buzzword in mental health and self-help. Unfortunately, in many cases, people just throw it out there repeatedly without any real explanation on how and why you should practice it.
To be mindful is to be in the present moment. The past is gone, finished, history. There’s no going back to it. There’s no fixing the unfixable mistakes you might have made that are back there. It’s gone now.
And the future? Well, the future is coming, but it’s not here yet. And we have no idea what the future will be like for us. So it’s worthwhile to consider the future, but we can’t dwell in it because dwelling in it does nothing to improve it. It’s just wasted time, and time is the most valuable resource any of us has. You don’t get more time. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Mindfulness is about rooting yourself in the present moment. About being aware of your own world, what’s going on around you, and finding as much joy, peace, and happiness as you can. It’s not some newfangled idea, even though it’s gained a lot of attention in recent years.
There are a lot of different ways to go about it. Some different philosophies and religions focus on being present, like Buddhism and Stoicism. You can nurture your present mindfulness through meditation, journaling, and just trying to find things at the moment. You may also try redirecting your thoughts when you dwell on the future or past to bring yourself back to the present moment.
Stop thinking about those things, pause, and look around you. Try to find something you can appreciate about the present moment you’re currently in.
2. Take control.
The worst decision you can ever make in life is no decision. It doesn’t matter how many times you fail, mess up, or make the wrong decisions so long as you’re making a decision. Every bad decision that you make brings you closer to success. It’s also teaching you valuable lessons that you would not otherwise receive.
Even worse, when you make no decisions, you just let fate and other people dictate your decisions for you.
Leaving it up to fate and chance is generally a bad idea because you can exert some control over your future. Do you want a better job? Then you need to make choices that will get you closer to that job. Do you want a loving relationship? Then you need to make choices that will help you have a healthy and loving relationship. Do you want some peace and happiness? Fate isn’t just going to drop it in your lap.
Leaving it up to other people is an even worse decision. People just aren’t that good. They’re not necessarily bad, and they’re not necessarily good. Most people are in-between. A majority of people are most concerned with keeping a roof over their own heads and living their life. Suppose you leave your life decisions up to other people. In that case, they will typically make decisions that are best for themselves, not you. You cannot blindly trust another person to decide what’s best for you. They may be able to help guide you along a path that makes sense for you, but they can’t and shouldn’t live your life.
Take control of your life and your decisions. What can you do to improve things in the present? Because improving things in the present will roll over into future improvements. Do you need therapy? Job training? To find another job altogether? To get out there and date? Start a new hobby? Take a class on something interesting? Whatever it is, go do it.
3. Get involved.
The world is a rough place. Life is hard for a lot of people. And it’s probably pretty hard for you, too, if you’re reading this article, which you obviously are, or how would you know what I was saying?
One of the best ways to take control, contribute positively to the world, and improve your own mental landscape is to get involved and help other people. You don’t have to save the world. You’re not going to. But what you can do is get involved in your local community to help some people who need the extra assistance.
There are so many volunteer opportunities that range from helping with animals to visiting seniors in homes.
The additional benefits are that you are taking control so that you can get out there and meet people, have new experiences, be grounded in the present, and not just dwell on the terrible things in life. It’ll help lighten your own emotional load by seeing how much work your fellow people are putting in to improve the world.
And that is a hard but worthwhile endeavor.
4. Say “yes” more often.
There’s a lot of power in “yes.” Someone asks you if you want to do something? Yes. Are you interested in this new opportunity? Yes. Should I ask that person out? Yes. Should I apply for that job I really want but don’t think I’m qualified for? Yes!
Yes, to as much as possible so long as those things are healthy for you. Yes opens up new opportunities for you that you might not have otherwise had. People who embrace their discomfort to turn it into curiosity experience new things, meet new people, and create new opportunities.
You can’t improve your life being holed up in your home, binge-watching streaming services while doom-scrolling through social media. “But I don’t like people!” Yeah, people are sometimes a pain in the backside. No lies there. Still, it’s among those people that you will find other opportunities and chances to connect that you otherwise wouldn’t.
The only way to claim those opportunities is by getting out there and interacting.
5. Create a love for yourself.
Hopelessness can often be rooted in a lack of a positive self-image. A person who does not view themselves as capable and worthwhile will not do the important things like advocate for themselves or take healthy risks. After all, I don’t deserve it! So why should I even bother!?
Cultivating love for yourself can be difficult if you’ve had the kind of life or experiences that would otherwise damage that. For example, how hard is it to love yourself if your parents always made you feel as though you were unloved? Can you value yourself after getting out of an abusive relationship where you were made to feel small and inferior?
It’s hard. These situations and more can rob you of your sense of self-love and self-worth.
Still, we all need to have a healthy, loving perspective of ourselves even through our flaws. That can be cultivated through positive self-talk, learning to love our shortcomings, and healing trauma. It’s not an easy journey, and you will probably need the help of a certified therapist to unwrap those traumas and heal them. It’s not something you’ll likely be able to do independently.
6. Limit your time with negative people.
Negative people have a problem for every solution. It doesn’t matter how good the thing is; there will always be someone to point out how it’s not good enough. And people with that mindset tend to not appreciate the things that are good but not quite there yet. Even a little goodness can make a huge difference.
There’s a good chance that if you feel hopeless about the future, you’re also fairly depressed and see the world through a pretty negative perspective. That’s okay. It happens, and it’s something you can work on to improve.
We often end up with like-minded people. If you’re not in a good mental space, you may be seeking solace and comfort with other people not in a good mental space. So, for example, when I was suicidally depressed, I would hang out with other severely and suicidally depressed people. They felt like my people, the kind of people that I could be open and honest with about what was going on in my head. And to some degree, that was good.
On the other hand, it’s debatable just how good of a thing that is. Surrounding yourself with negativity while in the hole of depression and hopelessness makes it harder to get out of the hole. You wind up with people around you confirming how terrible life is, how pointless it all is, how hopeless it is, and how powerless you are in the face of all this weight. Combine that with the way depression saps you of energy, fills you with apathy, and facilitates hopelessness. You have a recipe for misery.
The problem is those perspectives usually aren’t true. I say ‘usually’ because, well, sometimes it is. For example, some folks are in an exceptionally bad place that will be difficult to get out of. But they would benefit from not being around people who will drag them back down.
And speaking of which, you may or may not be surprised at how many people in those situations do not want to see you get better. Because if you get better, then that’s saying something about them. They can take it as a personal attack, like, oh, are you too good for us now? Many people don’t want responsibility for themselves. They’ll blame everything but themselves for their position in life, even if they’ve been spoon-fed opportunities.
You aren’t going to improve if you stay surrounded by these kinds of people. Frankly, it’s better to be alone.
7. Limit your intake of news.
The planet’s on fire, and climate change is making things worse. Evil and atrocity are rampaging around the world. War and genocides are happening. A family just died in a house fire. There was another mass shooting. A massive car crash caused by the negligence of a texting driver just killed eight people. On, and on, and on, and on, the negativity goes.
The thing is, the world was always this way. In fact, it used to be worse in many ways. For example, violent crime has actually been on the decline for decades. (Source.) Of course, you wouldn’t know that if you’re tuning in to the news every day to be bombarded for hours and hours about how terrible the world and people are. At this point, do you need to be told that people aren’t that good? Probably not.
The news is such a hit-or-miss thing. On the one hand, you want to be informed about what’s going on in the world. But, on the other hand, it’s hard to know what’s even true and accurate with the way the news is handled nowadays.
It used to be that journalism would provide a sharp look into what was going on to provide an unbiased presentation of world events. Sure, yellow journalism existed, but it was nowhere near as bad. Now you actually have news networks competing with the internet to release news.
And on top of that, most American news networks are owned by just a handful of companies, some of which do not act in ethical ways.
The truth of the matter is that spectacle sells. It creates engagement, puts eyes on the show, and facilitates better rates for sponsorship. The news regularly feeds you the bloodiest, worst, most fearful news because far more people will tune in for that than for positive or neutral news.
If you want to keep up in the world, limit your exposure to the news. Set aside some time to read Associated Press and Reuters articles. Both are renowned news organizations from which most other news networks get their information and stories. They both have websites where you can regularly read articles. Turn off the 24/7 news cycle and the political talking heads that tell you how to think and what to feel.
That news is just an unending cycle of depression and hopelessness because it makes money.
8. Quit social media.
Social media is a powerful tool that’s brought the world together and torn people apart. People are lonelier than ever due in large part to social media. The problem is that social media gives the illusion of sociability and connection. The problem is that the layer of technology between people causes the brain to not fire off all those feel-good chemicals you would typically get from socialization.
Then you have the eternal treadmill of “am I good enough?” You are constantly being subjected to the highlight reels of the lives of others. They post pictures of their families, vacations, new cars, and new experiences, and create that fear of missing out. When your life isn’t in a good place, it’s difficult to be flooded with these constant images of people doing well.
And what about celebrities and influencers? A lot of what they put out isn’t even real. Influencers use several tricks and tactics to make their lives seem much better than they actually are. Sure, there are some real influencers out there who genuinely represent themselves. But then you have others who do things like take pictures in front of other people’s houses, buy fancy clothes for photo shoots then return them, or snap a selfie with a fancy car they randomly find or rent.
Some people will do anything they can to portray the image they are trying to portray because it’s how they make their money or hope to make money. A lot don’t because they’re trying to fake it ’til they make it, not realizing it doesn’t work with everything.
Reduce your time or quit social media. It will improve the quality of your life massively.
9. Seek professional help.
And, of course, seeking out professional help is a good idea. Hopelessness is often a symptom of mental illness or mental health troubles beyond self-help’s scope. It’s okay to seek out help if you’re able to.
But, of course, it’s not always that simple. There can be long waiting lists, money might be tight, or there may not be enough mental health professionals in your area.
Whatever the limitation, if you can make that a goal, it’s a good step to getting to the bottom of your hopelessness and finding a healthier way to look at the world.
If you have the financial means and want to get help without delay, you can pay for online therapy. Typically, you can speak to a professional the same day or the next day. It’s a slightly different experience to in-person therapy but no less effective. You get access to the same caliber of fully certified therapists, just from the comfort of your own home.
A good place to get professional help is the website BetterHelp.com – here, you’ll be able to connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
While you may try to work through this yourself, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can address. And if it is affecting your mental well-being, relationships, or life in general, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.
Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.
Click here if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.
Hopelessness is a difficult subject. No one thing will help ease those kinds of dark thoughts. It’s a combination of things, like trying to feel like there is actually a future for you. You have more opportunities than you might realize to make things better and find your path.
You’ll just have to take some time to change the unhealthy thoughts, replace them with healthier thoughts, and get moving forward to your better future.
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- 5 Reasons To Live If You Can’t Seem To Find One Right Now
- How To Care Again When You Just Don’t Care About Anything Anymore
- Am I Depressed or Lazy? How To Tell The Difference
- I’m Depressed, So Why Don’t I Want To Get Better?