When Hope Dies

September 4th, 2011

I like reading biographies about interesting people.  People are fascinating.  Everyone has a story to tell, and I like to read about the many and multi-faceted journeys.  I like to refer to life as a soul journey.  We are all on one, each of us experiencing a different path, yet somehow all the same.  It is life.  Life unfolds before us in new and fascinating ways every day.  One of the ways that life unfolds is through stories of tragedies, survival, and hope.  Reading about someone else’s struggles and challenges and how they ultimately survived and thrived helps us to keep our own life in perspective.  Reading about another living, breathing person who struggled through a tragedy and came out of it happy and successful can help to restore lost hope to someone who is struggling themselves.

Losing hope is a terrible thing.  It makes us feel like we are at rock bottom, helpless, alone, afraid, that there is no end in sight.  But hope can be restored.  Faith in yourself can be restored.  I know because I have been there.  I have experienced rock bottom for myself.  I didn’t think I would ever crawl out of that darkness.  But I learned that miracles do happen, still.  And your miracle can be just around the corner.  Never give up, never give in.  I always tell my clients, tomorrow is different.  Tomorrow could be the total turnaround that makes your life new and fresh and beautiful again.  And that is the real foundation of my book Seven Years of Surrender.  The book was painful for me to write.  It was difficult for me to objectively observe my own mistakes, my own foibles.  But I wanted people to understand that no matter how hard it seems, tomorrow could change everything for the better.  I kept believing in the tomorrows even when everything seemed hopeless.  I was about as helpless as it gets, nearly paralyzed by pain, no money, and absolutely no way out.  It seemed that no help would be given me.  But help came…when I least expected it.

There are no easy rides on this planet.  Everyone has their own struggles, their own tragedies, their own pain.  How blissful life is depends on your perspective.

Years ago I met a man who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.  He was in a concentration camp for years.  When he was finally released, just as he thought his life was restored to him, his son died in a plane crash.  His perspective of being a prisoner of war was interesting.  It wasn’t that he didn’t suffer pain, anguish, and fear.  It was how he dealt with the situation as a whole.  He set a goal for himself every day.  If it was just one goal, fine.  If he achieved that goal, good.  If he didn’t achieve that goal, then he would try again the next day.  It kept his focus on something other than the what ifs of his situation.  And those what ifs were huge.  He could have been tortured and killed at any time.  Having that knowledge in the back of his head could have sent him spiraling into insanity.  But the daily goal kept him stable.

I used the same strategy during my Seven Years of Surrender.  I set daily goals for myself.  Every day, I did a deep breathing session.  I used the deep breathing to prevent pneumonia, because I was flat on my back most of the time, for year after year after year. My second goal was to stand up every day, to just stand beside my bed until the pain became unbearable, and then I would get back into bed and try to relax again.  My next goal was to take a shower.  I always wanted to take a shower by myself, but there were many times that I could not accomplish this task on my own.  So, whenever I did take a shower by myself, I felt victorious.  This victory made my mind believe that I was getting better, even if I wasn’t really getting better.  Brushing my teeth was incredibly painful.  Brushing my teeth meant that I had to open my jaw far enough to insert a toothbrush and clean my teeth.  I had to psych myself up for this task, but I managed…every day.

Simple, achievable goals performed every day can help reset your thinking and can carry you a long way through those dark times in life.  Simple, achievable goals give you a sense of victory and accomplishment, two things that are critical in getting through any tragedy.

Everyone has a story.  Live yours well.  This doesn’t mean your story has to be perfect to be accepted.  No story is perfect.  Live your life well is all about how you perceive every day of your life no matter where you are at the time.  Sometimes you have to let go of expectations and just breathe life in, taking it as it comes, and knowing that everything changes tomorrow.

Live your story well. Keep hope alive.  See the beauty around you every day.  Love yourself no matter what situation you are in. Accept yourself just as you are, right where you are.

Everyone has a story.


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