I have always found endings and beginnings super powerful. Nowhere is this more noticeable than at the end of a year and the beginning of another. It is change on steroids – the calendar helping us with the momentum needed to make anything new possible and stickable.
Whether you are one for making resolutions or not, there is no denying that a fresh start can feel invigorating. Many of us will not be unhappy with seeing the back of 2020. It’s been a tough year for so many of us and it continues to enshroud us in uncertainty and doubt. Will this pandemic ever end? Will I have a job? Some of us may even have started to feel that we’re losing hope.
Hope is less of an emotion and more of a state of mind.
Hope is a powerful ally.
But hope is an essential quality that we all share. It may hide behind current problems and worries but it is always there, nevertheless. Even people who do not think they have hope, do in fact have it. We may hope for less pain, to feel calmer, to have more time doing what we love or to have more resilience in conflict and so on. Hope is wanting something – anything – and it is a powerful ally when it comes to mental health.
Our brain is wired for safety and minimum risk-taking. When things are not going our way, perhaps when we are feeling anxious or depressed, the last thing we want to do is rock the boat. Change is scary at the best of times so when we are not feeling optimal, our mind reminds us that life is tough and difficult and that it’s best not to take any chances. To do more of the same.
Being hopeful takes bravery.
Having hope, therefore, means taking a risk. It propels us out of the comfort zone and into the potentiality of maybe. It means we are admitting to ourselves (and perhaps others like family or a therapist) that we want things to be different. Being hopeful takes bravery as we have to come head to head with the notion, the possibility, that we may not get what we hope for.
Hope is less of an emotion and more like a state of mind, made up of many components, that help us recalibrate and move towards homeostasis. When we hope for something, our brain is hardwired to start figuring out how to get it for us. It’s like keying in the destination on a satnav. Once the car knows the destination, it also knows how to get us there. Knowing what we long for then is an important question to ask oneself when things are out of kilter in our lives. When we have lost perspective, tuning into what we long for, our why, can be one of the most important actions we take. In his book, Mans search for meaning, Victor Frankl talks about the importance of having a why, to find purpose and meaning in ones’ life.
- Sit or lie somewhere comfortable and close your eyes. Start taking a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Notice the air going deep into your lungs and try to focus on simply breathing in and breathing out in a calm rhythm.
- Start to imagine a bright, white light coming in through the top of your head. This light is warm and comforting and can soothe any tension or stress that may linger in your body. Imagine this light relaxing anything it comes into contact with as it moves down from the top of your head, down into your arms, chest, abdomen, legs and feet until you are filled with this relaxing, soothing light.
- Feeling super relaxed and comfortable, ask yourself what it is you long for right now. Keep breathing in and breathing out whilst you simply remain relaxed and content. Let any thought come without judgement. Simply acknowledge it’s presence. It can be small things like wanting to be alone or to be held, to feel loved or cared for. Simply allow whatever comes – just let it be there.
- When you slow down, quietening and relaxing on a regular basis, you are able to tune into the small voice within that may not normally get heard in the hustle and bustle of day to day living of habitual behaviour.
- Journal. Write down what comes to mind after doing this exercise. What surfaced? What difference would it make if what you longed for came true? Were you surprised? Allow yourself to journal freely for at least 5 minutes without judgement. Repeat this as often as you need to.
Remember that the answers to what is appearing outside of us always begin as an inside job. Wishing you a wonderful day.