It may be feel especially challenging these days with all the uncertainty and loss to hold on to a sense of hope. Hope is based on relationships- a collaborative connection with people and your personal sense of a higher power. Dr. Anthony Scioli (www.gainhope.com) is a researcher who has developed a Hope Scale which can help you understand the complexity of hope. He speaks of hope as a “four channel emotional network.” These channels work together and can impact your “reception” to connect to HOPE. These channels are:
MASTERY – feeling a sense of control and having clearly defined goals.
ATTACHMENT – feeling support from and trust with others.
SURVIVAL – having coping tools for managing the physical and emotional effects of stress and distress.
SPIRITUAL – creating some sense of meaning and faith which is the building block of hope. Research shows us that hope is a predictor of physical well- being and can buffer anxiety about death and dying. It can lead to a better balance between an overactive stress response and “giving up”.
We must seek hope in an active direct way. As difficult as it may seem to feel hope during challenging times, try some of these ideas for each of the “channels” for more hope “reception” on your home network.
THE MASTERY CHANNEL – When you have a difficult situation, envision someone you know or would like to have as a support person in your life and ask yourself, ““What would my role model do?” See this support person addressing your issue and helping you see a way to move forward.
THE ATTACHMENT CHANNEL – To build trust, when you walk down the street, make eye contact and smile at the first 10 people you pass. Keep track of the number of positive responses. Consider trying to invite someone of a different faith or ethnicity for a coffee. Disclose something personal but appropriate about yourself and see if they respond in kind.
THE SURVIVAL CHANNEL – Practice some form of stress management. Learn diaphragmatic breathing to bring about the relaxation response. Imagine your belly like a balloon. When you inhale, your belly expands. When you exhale, your belly falls. Breathe in for a count of three and breathe out slowly for a count of four or five. ( Slower on the exhale.)
THE SPIRITUAL CHANNEL – Actively expose yourself to music, art, dance, prayer, beautiful sites like sunrises or sunsets, or the ocean to stimulate regions of your brain that produce a sense of wonder or oneness. Find a practice- prayer, meditation, dance, yoga, walking mindfully that opens you to your internal energy and brings you to a deeper sense of your worth and value. Try practicing random acts of kindness to help you through your difficult times. Get outside your own head into the act of giving and kindness of your spirit.
Hope is a state of being that must evolve and change as your life changes. What you hope for may have to change as your life moves forward, but YOU GOTTA HAVE HOPE!!
“Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.” Robert H. Schuller
“Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” Vaclav Havel
“Hope is like peace. It is not a gift from God. It is a gift only we can give one another.” Elie Wiesel