• How to Feel Hopeful Again

    Feeling stuck in sadness as time drags on?

    Let’s face it. The times we live in have many people feeling the sadness of so many losses. Read on to hear tips from my counseling clients on how they stay hopeful in 2020.

    As hard as things are now, it’s amazing to observe clients who’ve been with me in counseling for a while staying hopeful and encouraged. It’s not that they don’t have struggles – indeed they do. Threats of job losses, COVID social distancing challenges, conflict in relationships – you name it, they are in it. It’s not that things aren’t hard, it’s that they’ve learned some things that keep them grounded. Here’s what they are telling me.

    1. “It’s about what you believe”. – Recently a client told me “You know, Dianne. It’s about what I believe and that I have hope.” This client was telling me that she has come to believe the truth about who she is and it gives her hope in her ability to navigate through whatever comes her way – a hope that whatever comes in her future it will make sense at some point and she’ll learn from it. Belief gives a confidence that reduces anxiety and depression.

    2. “What I focus on grows” – One client wrote down the “truths” she has learned in our counseling sessions on note cards, laminated them, and put them in a small tin she carries with her. One card simply said, “Focus on good”. Positive psychology research tells us of the brain’s amazing capacity to help us gather evidence to support something we believe. So, for her to believe that there is good in her life allows her the opportunity to grow that good and reduce the “downward spiral” [1] of depression she had lived under for most of her life. She has come to believe that there is good to be found in any situation and when you focus on that good your brain helps you by “broadening and building”[2] pathways to explore the possibilities in life for greater and greater joy, happiness, fun, or serenity.

    3. “Bridging from a painful emotion to a more self-compassionate one” – One client discovered that negative feelings didn’t have to control her. In the past anxiety and worry felt unmanageable and impossible to resist. Now when sadness floats into her thoughts she names it, accepts that she feels sad, then explores with curiosity what feeling she may like to feel instead. This process of considering a kinder, more self-compassionate feeling such as gratitude or kindness along with the sadness, gives her confidence to choose an emotion rather than be controlled by one.

    4. “When I feel stuck, I just get up and do something”. So many therapists, life coaches, and motivational speakers use some form of this effective tool to jump start motivation. When this client gets stuck in too many thoughts and feelings, she loves movement to quiet them down. She’ll do the dishes, start laundry, put on music, go to the mailbox, anything that gets her body involved. She may sing, whistle, or dance. And adding a smile to the action multiplies the return. When you share with someone else, the return is even higher.

    If you are feeling trapped in sadness and hopelessness, try a few of these proven tips that clients are using right now that are helping them move from hopelessness into hope. Need help to believe in yourself more confidently, learn how to shift your focus self-compassionately to gentler emotions, and to feel more in control of your emotional world? Everybody does at one time or another. Just give me a call today. It’s one small step toward hope.

    Dianne Presley, LCSW, BC-TMH
    Believe, Hope, Inspire Wellness Services LLC
    Anxiety, Depression, Loss and Relationship Therapy
    Gottman Level 1 and Level 2 Training in Couples Method Therapist
    Gottman Training in Traumas and Affairs and in Couples in Addiction
    Gottman Educator in 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work and Bringing Baby Home
    Certified Brain Based Success Coach

    [1] (Barbara Fredrickson, PhD: “Positivity: Discover the Upward Spiral that Will Change Your Life”; works by Susan Whitcomb at The Academies). [2](Barbara Fredrickson, PhD: “Positivity: Discover the Upward Spiral that Will Change Your Life”; works by Susan Whitcomb at The Academies).