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How to Have Hope for Mental Health Recovery

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What’s the point of hoping?

The point is that things can get better. It sounds super corny, I know, but it’s true. Life isn’t stagnant, and neither are its challenges. The hard parts of life suck, no one is going to argue about that. But life is a lot like a roller coaster; there are the ups and the downs. We enjoy the ups, and there is never a down that lasts forever; the coaster always heads up again. And hope is what makes the downs a little easier, knowing that what you’re going through will eventually end.

It’s been so long since I had hope. How do I do it again?

It’s not like riding a bike; it’s OK to forgot how to do it. You just have to get back up and try it again. You hope by first recognizing the struggles you are in now. You can’t have hope if you don’t realize you need it. Then you have to understand that “life roller coaster” analogy, knowing you just happen to be in a down when an up is on the way. Then, it takes patience, which may be the hardest part. Waiting may feel like doing nothing, but hope requires active patience. Active patience is holding your head up high, smiling when it feels impossible, and turning your thoughts towards the future.

Isn’t hope just impractical?

Hope is what keeps us alive. It’s what sets us free when we feel trapped. Accepting the idea that change is possible is the first step in making it happen. You have to hope for a better life which is nowhere near delusional. But don’t go overboard; don’t hope for a perfect life, as that will only lead to disappointment. Hope for the next up in the ride, not a coaster of all ups. A coaster with all ups is a straight line, therefore it has no ups at all. Stay positive, stay hopeful, but hope for what can be, not what cannot.

I’m so tired of fighting, I don’t think I have it in me to hope.

You’ve fought hard; you have the right to be tired. What you’re going through is not easy, it’s not fun and it’s not without pain and sacrifice. But hope is something you can hold onto no matter how hard it is. In the midst of fighting your struggles, hope is your fuel, your fire for your fight. When you have a moment to breathe, hope is a shield to keep you safe for a little while longer. Your hope not only helps you look forward to change, but can be the change.

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Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

Originally published: January 6, 2018
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