“…“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
This week’s #WellnessWednesday message comes from our School Psychologist, Mrs Teresa Yell.
I’m tired. I’m tired of talking about COVID-19, hearing about it and living it. I’m tired of reminding my children and husband to take masks and sanitiser as they walk out the front door. I’m tired of the government making decisions on my behalf without consultation and I’m tired of the ramifications of these decisions.
I know am not alone.
I read everyday about how people are facing financial uncertainty, concerns about job security and anxieties around their health and the health of their loved ones. I guess I am tired of being afraid.
True to form I did some research. My reading was aimed less at about what makes me tired and more at about what I can do to overcome my fatigue and fears. I consciously made an effort to think about the present and the future beyond my fears and anxieties. The more I read, the more I realised that there is always the potential for something good to happen, that no matter how dire the circumstances we find ourselves in may seem – there is hope.
I was also much relieved to read that hope is not dependent on certainty but rather on probability. It’s trusting that things will improve. So why is hope so important? I discovered, in my research (www.conciousrethink.com) that hope is a great motivator – it gives us energy to embrace each new day. We wake up thinking of possibilities rather than obstacles.
Which leads me to the next point. Being hopeful means, we are more likely to see opportunities which, in turn means we are more likely to make positive choices. Negative thoughts are combated by hope. Remember the Little Engine hauling a large load over a hill “I think I can I think I can” and so he could.
The seemingly impossible becomes possible. In other words, hope encourages self-belief and gives us the courage we need to act. We are then able to move from despair towards joy, enthusiasm and contentment. The best thing about hope, I read, is that it is contagious. Having hope can inspire both us and others. Choosing to rejoice in the small things can and does rub off on others. (Ideas harvested and adapted from conciosurethink.com)
My meanderings through the internet led me to Ron Carcucci (a transformational advisor) who expounded that “hope isn’t the alienation of fearful risk, or the side-lining of anxiety. It’s the choice to see beyond current circumstances to something better despite the presence of these feelings” (March, 2020). Desmond Tutu was more succinct when he said “hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness” (www.conciousrethink.com).
However, we choose to define hope, hope by nature cannot be given especially when assurances cannot be forthcoming because so much is uncertain or unknown in this pandemic. Hope, however, can apparently be discovered (Carcucci, March 2020). Carcucci suggests that the following steps are crucial in the discovery of hope:
- We need to realise a different perspective he says. Each person’s fear is unique. He also claims that this fear is often catastrophised and therefore often imaginatively worse than reality. By naming this fear with the help of someone we trust, the imagined power of the fear can be reduced.
- Carcucci (March 2020) suggests we look for a time in our lives when we overcame an adversity thereby proving our resilience. We have, he says, reserves of resilience which can help us to prevent turning current circumstances into a “permanent reality and imminent threat”.
- This does not mean we invalidate people’s feelings. The feelings of anxiety, grief, confusion and fear around COVID-19 are real and must be acknowledged. Kindness and empathy towards ourselves and others, is obligatory if we are to discover hope.
- Evidence is to be used judiciously. I know I have harped on in my past reflections about being circumspect about what the media is feeding us and here I go again. This time however, the suggestion is that we focus on things like the number of recoveries and success stories of other countries in combatting the virus. This provides evidence of the temporary nature of our current circumstances, which in itself inspires hope.
- There are also many positive stories of resilience, generosity and hope that have emerged during this pandemic. Care givers, front line medical staff, shop workers etc have kept us all going and their work is inspirational.
- Be grateful. An attitude of gratitude leads to a sense of well-being and gives us purpose – both essential ingredients of hope. So, while I may be tired, I now feel more hopeful and with this hopefulness comes gratitude. I am grateful for my family, my health, my work, the humour inspired by existing events, the kindness of others, the sense of community to emerge from this pandemic and the fact that perhaps this piece of writing may inspire hope in you.
Stay safe, wear your masks, sanitize, wash your hands, practice social distancing and go – discover hope.
“Anybody who has ever struggled to plant his feet onto the floor in the morning knows that life can be hard; it can be stressful; it can be overwhelming. But each of those negative, less than optimal feelings immediately takes a back seat to the inspirational power of hope.”Shawn L. Anderson
WHO IS TERESA YELL?
Ms Teresa Yell is Kingswood College’s Educational Psychologist and has practiced in the field for 15 years. She completed her postgraduate studies at RAU (Rand Afrikaans University) and her undergraduate degree at the UND (University of Natal, Durban). She is mother to two children, a daughter and son. She was the resident psychologist at both Dainfern College and Christ Church College in Johannesburg for nine years and ran a busy private practice from her home. They moved to Makhanda (Grahamstown) in 2016, and live on a small farm outside of town.
Munk, A. Teaching children philosophy: The Little engine that could. www.teachingchildrenphilosophy.com accessed July 2020
www.aconciousrethink.com A conscious rethink. 7 reasons why finding hope for the future is so important. Accessed July 2020
Carcucci, R. March 2020. Finding hope in the face of a pandemic. www.forbes.com accessed July 2020