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Can I Find Hope In Times That Feel Hopeless?

Jessica Pontis, LCSW

I don’t know about everybody else, but recently I found it very difficult to remain hopeful. It feels like every day switching on the news, checking social media, there’s something that’s going on, some loss, some mass collective trauma. We try our best to cope after incidents that leave us rocked. We do what we know how to do in order to try and make ourselves feel safe and secure. Well, sometimes it’s hard to pull ourselves out of it, and understandably so. If we’re constantly inundated with sadness and grief, how can we find hope?

Hope is defined as the expectation or desire for certain things to happen, which ultimately boils down to a feeling of trust. We trust that things will work out. We trust that things will be different. We trust that our community will learn valuable lessons. So seeing the same tragedies happen over and over again without much change, of course, it’s hard to maintain hope. I want to take a moment to acknowledge everybody’s feelings and everybody’s grief. I also want to take a moment to discuss a few strategies that could be helpful in reclaiming little bits of hope.

Acknowledge Where You Are

While in times of chronic stress that we may not be able to directly impact, we may feel more inclined to push the feelings of hopelessness to the side with the intention to ignore them. This might work in the short term, but ultimately these feelings demand to be seen and demand to be felt. Naming these feelings out loud takes power away from them and gives us a framework for regaining feelings of hope.

Recognize the Power of Collective Grief

More than likely you are far from alone during cycles of mass trauma. One of the most powerful healers of grief is allowing ourselves to heal as a group. Collective grief and trauma feel incredibly isolating so when we come together and all acknowledge our feelings in a similar space it can help make us feel just a little less alone.

Only Consume the Media That’s Necessary 

The temptation to do a deep dive into news outlets or social media during times of chronic community stress is so easy to give into. We want to be good participants within our community and so it’s important to be well informed. However, at what point does this become harmful? If you’re scrolling through social media or watching the news and find yourself becoming incredibly triggered, it is OK to turn it off for now. Taking a step away does not mean that you don’t care or that you’re not still involved in trying to make a change. What it does mean is that you’re prioritizing your mental health and your wellness so that you can do more for the community in the long run.

Organize and Advocate

If you’re in a space where you have taken some time to process and are ready to take action, you may feel the need to organize. While the common person can’t write laws, what we can do is speak up and contact the people who can. Research advocacy groups who are doing awesome work out there and trying to make just and sustainable change. Call, e-mail, and write some letters to your local, state and federal representatives. If financially you’re in a space where this is possible make donations to organizations that push for social change. Advocate for the marginalized and speak up for yourself and for others. While individually we can feel very helpless, collectively we are incredibly powerful.  

If you’re interested in taking time to sit and process the current state of our world, or would like to connect with someone to walk with you on this journey, reach out to one of the licensed therapists with Symmetry Counseling. You can explore our counseling services online and book your session, or you can call us at (312) 578-9990 to set up an appointment. 

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