Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers advice for maintaining your mental health.

Hope-Where Is It When You Need It?

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Jun 30, 2013 8:48 PM

A woman writes short stories, feeling them emerge from her psyche with such ease and pleasure that she believes she has a good chance of publication. She knows that famous writers were first rejected and it encourages her. Another writer, post-rejections, gives up trying. A therpist experiences discouragement when her patient resists, cancels and regresses. Another sees such behavior as common before change, persists, and believes that progress will occur. A man looks for jobs for a year, determined that something will pan out finally, never totally discouraged. Another looks a few times, gets his relatives to help him financially, and quits trying. A man with back pain implodes in his difficulty and becomes truly disabled, while another with the same level of pain plods on, copes with whatever therapies he can find, and accomplishes what he can, living a full and interesting life.

Why does one person maintain hope and another loses it? Why is one person the optimist and the other the pessimist? The former believes in himself, in others, in life's blessings and upturns, from past good experiences, from overcoming adversity before, from positive role models and encouragement, or just due to sheer resilience. The latter caves due to poor self-esteem, learned helplessness and fear, convinced that former failures dictate future failures, taking the easy path of persistent discouragement.

How can anyone convince the pessimist with no hope to plod on? Understanding how the negative thoughts developed and impact the present feelings and behavior only helps a bit. It's in the practicing of hopeful actions that encouragement happens. The writer wows a few friends with her stories, the therapist helps the resistent patient look at a situation differently and make one small step forward, the job applicant does a temporary job successfully, the back pain patient gets acupuncture or massage and feels good for a day. The truism that baby steps provide hope is real.

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