Hopelessness—it hits most of us, one time or another. Sometimes I feel like most of my clients are trying to convince me that some part of their lives is hopeless. They have all kinds of reasons that they can’t have the relationship, the career, the health, the money or the peace that they want. At the same time, a part of them desperately wants to know that it is actually not hopeless after all. It’s like a clash of the two movies “Reality Bites” and “Field of Dreams”. One part of them is despondent and depressed, and the other part is hoping beyond hope that if they build it, they will come.
Which role do I hold? I hold a place of possibility and belief. I believe completely and fully that my clients can have what they want out of life. I believe what they dream of is possible.
But let me just say, I am not coming from a magical thinking, “if they just say a bunch of cheesy affirmations it will all just happen” perspective. I know that there is practical work that we all need to do, in order to accomplish our dreams. I also know that there truly is hope. It is possible. Let me say that again: It is possible.
How do we live with a sense of possibility? How often do we listen to our friends and community from a place of believing in what is possible? How often do we bolster the dreams of those around us? Or do we align with people’s fears? Do we agree with them, and help them grow doubts?
I notice the pattern of agreeing about hopelessness a lot with women when they are talking about dating. One woman might say “yeah, there are just not a lot of good men out there” and then another woman say’s “yeah, you are so right about that.” Ladies, how is this supposed to help at all? Of course there are great men out there; I meet them all the time. The world is full of great men; there are literally hundreds of thousands of them.
Okay, so how do we start moving out of hopelessness into possibility? The easiest place to start is often with other people. For some reason, we are generally able to support others better than ourselves in the beginning.
Start with how you listen. Did you know that how you listen to someone can dramatically change their experience? If there is a friend that is struggling with something they might feel is hopeless, as you listen to them begin to imagine what it will look like when their situation is resolved. Imagine them capable, worthy and competent to solve whatever is plaguing them. Imagine all the possible ways that their situation might get worked out. Imagine them happy and joyful. Hold all of this possibility while you are listening to them compassionately. Then, if it makes sense, tell them how you can see them getting exactly what they want. Tell them about your image of them being capable and worthy of all they want in life. Share with them the image you have of them fulfilled and happy.
Then, notice what happens. How do you feel speaking these possibilities to your friend? What kind of reaction do you get? Does it lift your mood at all?
Practice listening for possibility, and let me know how it goes!