The Transformative Power of Hope
You know that thing when you’re so bummed about being bummed that you want to eat your feelings then barf them up, only to wash down the barf taste with a bottle of vodka? That’s your sense of despair bringing its A game, and once it gets it stink on you it’s hard to scrub it off — no matter how much vodka you pour on it. It’s the saddest party with deflated balloons and the worst cover band. Hope is an invitation to a better party, your ticket out of desperation. A sweetly scented balm to coat and soothe the aching, the mourning, and the frustration.
When I wanted to have a baby, my body didn't. In fact, as soon as I stopped taking birth control pills my body stopped having a cycle for 11 months. All the doctors shrugged their shoulders and told me my blood work was perfect, I was healthy, it should happen. But it didn’t. My desperation to get pregnant was so consuming that on a sunny afternoon when my doctor didn't show up for my appointment because he was delivering another woman's baby I demanded to see one his partners. I announced that I was not leaving until he prescribed me something, anything to help me conceive. I proceeded to sob so violently that he suggested from across the desk that I seek mental counseling. But as much as I’d anguished, I could feel the nudging of hope. I needed hope to be my flashlight, shining the way out of my own darkness.
Hope will buoy your faith to feel better, do better, live better, yet it doesn’t always feel close and available. When you're feeling helpless, stuck, or frustrated, reaching for hope can feel like a fool’s errand. The author Marianne Williamson says, "Hope is born of participation in hopeful solutions." So if you can’t yet intertwine your fingers with the warm hand of hope, put one foot in front of the other in the direction of hopeful solutions. According to Psychology Today, studies have shown that hope both helps you imagine a positive outcome as well as spark bursts of insight in the subconscious brain. In other words, when you feel hopeful, you're mind is working on the most primal level to assist you in achieving the outcome that hope promises. It’s the same science behind the power of the placebo effect.
If you can summon the will to transform your hurt into hope you begin to forge a path on your own terms. You set in motion the creation of a new belief that not only influences your future but helps you feel better in the present; no matter the outcome, you’re experiencing more positivity. You gently squeeze the hand of hope as you waltz around the room together.
After my pregnancy came and went and I held that bundle of hope incarnate in my arms, new doors of despondency flung open. Who am I to be a mother? Can I keep this baby alive? Am I doing everything devastatingly wrong? But without being consciously aware, I kept reaching in the direction of hopeful solutions. Because hope isn't always grand gestures and bold moves. Hope can be quiet and unassuming. In those early days of motherhood it looked like books and articles and advice from friends who had done this baby thing before me. It looked like asking my mom to babysit so I could come up for air and get out of the house for a few hours. I slowly began to become aware that I have a vote in how my life turns out because I possess volition. And if I continue to stretch my hand out, I’ll eventually feel hopeful expectation pulsing in my palm.
Hope is the OG motivator. It's the small star blinking in the distance, right past the horizon of your despair. Hope on it's own is powerful, but hope put into action is magic. It's where the transformation takes place. You can’t escape the vortex of despair that spins through the news, radiates from the broken, and creeps into your heart when you least expect it. But you can exercise your volition. Keep moving in the direction of hopeful solutions. Continue to stretch out your hand. Accept the invitation to a better party.