By: Michael Toohey, Psy.D. | July 8, 2022
How do we find hope when everything around us feels overwhelming and impossible? How do we get through the day when there has been so much loss for so many? How do we find the strength to raise our heads when we feel beaten down?
I’ve often thought of hope as having a future orientation: “I hope this happens” or “I hope this doesn’t come to pass.” Over the years, I’ve told my clients I have an abundance of hope, and they can have as much of mine as they like; my hope has felt endless. I’ll share with a client that I can see their future in a way that they may not in their moments of darkness. I’ve treated hundreds of people successfully and can see each client’s hopeful future.
Lately, with all the turmoil, confusion, and enveloping darkness occurring in the country, I, too, have felt hopeless. I don’t like it; therefore, I must do something about it. But how?
I’ve realized I must be dialectical: to experience something fully,
I must also embrace its opposite.
To be dialectical is to see hope in hopelessness; to counter cruelty with kindness; to manifest peace in conflict. I accept that there are positive and negative elements to every situation. Knowing that darkness cannot exist without light helps me start to feel hope again.
Vaclav Havel, a Czechoslovakian writer, says hope “is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart.” I apply this to myself by not looking outward for something or someone to give me hope, but to find it within myself.
I must create hope now because the future seems so desolate, and I must use that hope to create a future that is joyous.
I don’t want this future to be far off in the distance. I want it right around the corner, so close that it’s almost our present. To manifest this, I commit to connecting with others through despair to create an equitable future for all. I am going to use beauty and art to mend the damage done to my soul. I am going to attend safe spaces to counter the dangers around us. I am going to take care of myself so that I can care for others.
And I’m not going to do it alone. I am going to connect. I am going to take breaks. I am going to garden. I am going to love. I am going to survive. I am going to create hope until my cup is overflowing with it. I am determined.
In this moment of time in our country, it’s natural to feel disillusioned, overwhelmed, or hopeless. Know that you are not alone, even if you may feel that way right now. I encourage you to reach out, connect, and work toward creating the future you want.