5 Ways to Find Hope When Times are Tough
We all experience tough times filled with moments of grief, sorrow, and hopelessness. Sometimes life’s journey contains very personal moments of despair, such as a tragic loss, family conflict, serious illness, or financial setback. It’s a part of life that there’s no escaping from.
However, I’ve learned one golden rule when facing what can seem like insurmountable challenges:
What we’re facing isn’t as important as how we react to it.
This is what being resilient is all about. At the heart of resiliency are the coping mechanisms we employ to truly move forward in the face of life’s obstacles.
There are many things we can do to cope with adversity. Many people turn to losing themselves in shopping, social media, or substance abuse in order to cope. However, these approaches have limitations, and don’t truly equip us with the tools we need to address the issue and find authentic peace and solace.
Having the right coping mechanisms in the face of a crisis brings us hope when the next challenge comes our way.
When we have hope, we win every time.
Learning to Cope to Build Resiliency
Coping involves an active (rather than passive) response to a misfortune that has befallen you. It involves making decisions, reorganizations, and adaptations to your new circumstances in order to minimize the damage it can cause.
However, our tendency to resist change when we feel threatened can get in the way of exercising our coping mechanisms. Change is hard, but also powerfully liberating. If we can be open to adaptation, we’re freeing ourselves to face the situation with courage, determination, and resilience.
In other words, times can be tough, but we can be wiser!
5 Ways to Find Hope When Times are Tough
When faced with a situation that challenges us, it’s important to have the coping skills that bring us hope. Here are 5 ways you can do that:
1. Be mindful of how you feel: When times are tough, it’s normal to feel a range of emotions, such as grief, sadness, frustration, and hopelessness. Most of us try to avoid feeling any of them. They’re uncomfortable. They’re painful. They remind us that we’re not always in control, and we fear that these feelings will last and take us down into a deep, dark hole with no way out.
I believe that what we resist tends to persist. By avoiding, distracting ourselves, and not confronting what’s before us actually let these uncomfortable emotions linger and fester. It’s better to acknowledge that the emotion is there. Even better, acknowledge that it’s okay to feel that way. Avoid self-judgement. The gentler you are with yourself, the more you’ll allow yourself to be human.
2. Allow yourself to rest: Contrary to what most people do, which is to push harder, work harder, and try harder, it’s also important to take a step back sometimes. Too often we push ourselves harder without giving ourselves a space for rest, reflection, and restorative sleep. A slowdown is sometimes necessary.
To truly know what we need, we must give space and adherence to the whispers of our own heart and soul. It takes courage to stop trying when we are dealing with intense challenges, but we must create time for quiet and reflection to see what emerges. Don’t resist it, let go of trying, and be present to yourself. As a result, you’ll discover renewed energy and new possibilities of moving forward.
3. Gratitude: Over a decade ago, I first heard about the power of gratitude on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Many other influencers have also written how feelings of gratitude have changed their lives. I started on my journey by writing in my gratitude journal, which is still a wonderful way of acknowledging appreciation for various aspects of my life. After all, it’s much easier to appreciate what is going well in your life than to dwell on what is not. I’ve since come to believe that gratitude is much bigger than that.
The life-changing power of gratitude really becomes clear when you are able to see the greater positive purpose of challenging events in your life. For example, when you are in a difficult situation that makes you feel vulnerable, insecure, unstable, sad, or angry, try to turn it around to see the bigger truth behind it. You can start today by feeling gratitude for the simple things in your life, such as coffee in the morning, food in the fridge, and a comfortable home to live in. Follow this by feeling gratitude for bigger things, such as family and friends. From there, you’ll find it easier to even be grateful for challenging things, including health issues, job loss, financial stress, and other stressors life has been throwing at you. It might sound strange at first, but embracing difficult situations leads to clarity, which leads to perspective and ultimately, calm.
4. Engage with Nature: There’s something pure and healing about Mother Nature. She is wild and unconditional, but also very often welcoming and healing. There has never been a walk in the park among trees and flowers, under the sky, sun, moon, and stars that I have regretted. Leaning in to the elements of nature for support in tough times can provide many answers. If you listen carefully, observe respectfully, and give it a chance, some elements of nature can share unlimited wisdom and guidance.
Our current world can be isolating and detached from the power of nature. One of my teachers in optimal health has been the late Dr. David Simon. His book The Wisdom of Healing shares the deep insights provided by both eastern and western medicine. It’s a game-changing read that I can’t recommend enough.
5. Cultivate Patience: There is a tendency in me (and perhaps in you) to want to fast-forward through the hard times to get to the good times in life. I have found that this tendency can rob me of those precious yet difficult moments in the present that can provide much more than we tend to give them credit for.
“Patience is the training in abiding with the restlessness of our energy and letting things evolve at their own speed.” ― Pema Chödrön,The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times
My aim here is to embrace the practices of Buddha: be patient, steady, strong yet gentle, kind and open. I want to be observant of my own restlessness and allow things to evolve at their own rhythm. You might find that this goes against your own natural survival mechanism, but in truth, it is a way of cultivating patience. Dialing up your patience while dialing down your restlessness is a moment-by-moment choice that gets easier over time.
Discovering hope through trust…in yourself
One way to define hope is a feeling of trust. If you are going through a tough time, ask yourself: “What or whom can I trust at this time?” Maybe that person is yourself.
When faced with a difficult situation, give yourself the trust that:
- You can make it through
- You are learning
- Without challenges, you would not grow
- This may in fact be an opportunity
- You are more resilient, courageous, and capable that you give yourself credit for
- There is no challenge given to you that you cannot handle even if you don’t feel that way in this moment
When you trust in yourself, you’ll always have hope, as well as the coping mechanisms to get through anything!