5 strategies for hanging on to hope

Hubby referred to himself as a realist. But he was really a pessimist, this cautious man with his strong, analytical, computer-programmer brain. Whenever I came up with a brilliant idea—which was quite often—he was quick to point out everything that could possibly go wrong.

Hubby: “What if (fill in the blank) happens?”

Me: “But what if it doesn’t?”

We made a great team. He kept me thinking realistically about his cancer; I encouraged him to live well with cancer and plan beyond the ‘due date’ projected by the doctor.

Which means this thought from Robert Brault resonates with me:

An optimist is someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it’s more like a cha-cha.



Photo credit: Pixabay


So how do you hang on to hope during the hard things?

It’s easier said than done. Please know that this list of 5 strategies learned from our experience is not meant to be flippant, as in, Just get over it. It’s meant to be thought-provoking when it’s time:

1. Understand that life comes with loss. 

Don’t let it surprise you. Don’t ask, Why me? Understand that adversity visits everyone. And sometimes it brings its twin brother. Or its three or four twin brothers. (We knew them as Financial-Loss, Live-In-Parent-Sinking-Into-Dementia, Cancer, Widowhood.)

2. Recognize adversity as something that can make us better. 

Walking beside my husband through the long, slow, sweet good-by changed me. I am more compassionate. Kinder. Stronger. And frankly, I like this person better. Future adversity does not scare me. Bring it! (Well, maybe don’t bring it; let it come on its own.)

3. Admit you’re not a Super Hero.

Recognize your humanness. Remove your I-can-do-this-alone Super Hero cape. Accept help and support from others. Which lowers your stress levels, because we all know that stress and overwhelmedness (not sure that’s a word) usually drive out hope.

4. Practice gratitude. 

We can focus on the loss of our health or the loss of a loved one, and count all that will never be the same again. Or we can focus on what’s left after the loss. Although my husband is gone, I have children and grands and extended family who want me around. I’m sitting in a fire-lit café. In America. Drinking Chai tea. I walked in here on my own two legs (a young woman recently rode in on a wheelchair). My vehicle started on the first try this morning. I’m meeting friends later this evening. We’ll be eating good food. My cute little quarters has heat. And hot water. Imagine. And all that’s just today. 

5. Choose wisely. 

The great thing about facing down hard things is that we have choices. We get to choose how it transforms us, because adversity will—count on it—transform us. We can choose self-pity or courage. We can give up easily, or grow tenacious. We can come out of adversity looking more bitter. Or more beautiful.

This from Richard Paul Evans in The Looking Glass:

I have learned a great truth of life. We do not succeed in spite of our challenges and difficulties, but rather, precisely because of them.

I am living proof there is room for optimism and hope in the hard.

What about you? Are you in the middle of an adverse situation? What can you do to walk triumphantly in that barren place? What next chapter are you writing into your story?

P.S. If you found this post helpful or inspiring, please share, tweet or pin!


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  1. Eileen

    Always up lifting and at the right time. Thanks

  2. Debbie sloan

    Hi Marlys,
    I found it very moving and inspirational. I don’t tweet, I Facebook some, but don’t know how to post stuff, but I am going to try to post this one. Your a beautiful lady, Gary was a lucky man. Thinking of you. Debbie

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