By Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.

How to encourage your own hope in these challenging times?

  • “Measure it.”  Evaluate your starting point, or “baseline”, and identify where you need to improve.
  • “Read history.” History, especially of bleak periods, provides context and substance. We can see how people survived the Spanish Flu pandemic, the Civil War, the London Blitz, or other challenging times.  There are reminders that difficult times do come to an end, and how people hold onto hope and survive during these times.
  • “Future cast.” Imagine a hopeful future.  Perhaps focus on four central areas of your life and how you would like them to be in the future: “home and family, career, community, and recreation.” If you think about them in detail, they can become your goals.  Spend significant time with each one, rather than attempt all four at once.
  • “Take a small step.” In developing these goals, then think about how to make them happen, which gives you “agency”. One small step today in that direction – one small step this week, for one goal creates some success, some momentum, and a feeling of greater control.  Then followed by another small step, etc.
  • “Watch your words.” Even when we are discouraged, avoid black and white statements like, “I’ll never catch a break.” Or, “Things will always be like this.”  These statements wipe out hope. Use hopeful language: “I/we can do this.” “It’s possible.” “This barrier is discouraging, but let’s see how to move around it.”
  • “Spread hope.” Our emotions impact the emotions of others.  An inspiring speaker kindles hope in the audience.  We can do the same, on a smaller scale, with other people in our life, especially our children, or partners, family  members and friends.  If you share your goals and detail some of how you’ll reach them, you may receive support and you’ll encourage others.

All of these steps are very much a part of therapy. At times, it’s also helpful to explore your personal history to understand more fully the sources of barriers in your own life, which can significantly  handicap your efforts to maintain hope during the COVID 19 pandemic and to take steps moving forward.

Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Torrance, CA. A member of the Independent Psychotherapy Network, he can be reached at 310  539-2772 or  Telehealth sessions are available by phone or video sessions.

Copyright 2020 by Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.

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