What A Rough Year Taught Me About Hope

We’ve all had those rough years.

After the first few things you tell yourself “things can only go up from here.” You pat yourself on the back for staying cool. “It could be worse,” you laugh, so proud of your resiliency. And then something else happens.

This time you tell yourself, “this sucks but I’m cool, I’ve been here before, life is cyclical, it’ll get better.” And it doesn’t but you pretend that it does for the sake of your family and friends.

AND THEN something happens that rocks you hard. This time you completely breakdown. This is usually when people start to notice your mood change and have THE WORST advice.

While you’re crying Adele tears inside, your friends and family say, “stay positive, be grateful for what you have, it could be worse, you have so many things going for you, don’t worry so much, things will get better” and you begin to feel the added weight of guilt for feeling unhappy AND unhappy at the same time.

Stop talking friends and family. That’s what you want to say. But instead you isolate yourself and proceed to feel worse.

That was 2015 for me. I’m sure many of you can relate. Under the grips of pain, life feels meaningless.

I’m not gonna lie and say I’ve achieved victory and that things are finally looking up and that I’ve seen the light and here are 10 ways to overcome the pain.

And maybe this happiness girl is more authentic in saying that.

BUT, and this is a big but, I still have hope that my life has meaning. And for those of you reading this, I hope you do too.

I’m beginning to learn that as long as you have hope, however dim or slight, there’s a reason to keep going. Here are 3 things that have helped me keep hope alive for 2016.

Remind Yourself That Earth School is Hard Work

From all of my reading, I’ve come to the conclusion that each of us comes to this planet to learn certain lessons. Your friends and family may be here learning the same lessons or they may be here learning completely different lessons. Some people may be here to learn about survival others about relationships and still others about power.

We’re all enrolled in earth school though. And school is hard by design.

Like regular school, there are certain subjects where we kick ass and others where we completely bomb. Math may be easy for some people and harder for others. But in each subject, there is a lesson.

Each of us has a ton of different lessons/subjects/etc. that our souls need to learn before we leave this earth. Every individual’s lesson is unique, so different things impact different people in different ways.

Whose to say why certain events trigger certain reactions in people but I’m willing to bet that the hard years differ for everyone. Not everyone is meant to learn the same lesson/take on the same subjects in life.

When you’re feeling raw, just remember that you’re in earth school and once you pass this subject you’ll be prepared for the next. It may not get easier, but you’re learning and that’s the point in your being here.

A lot of new agey people think we signed up for this life. Our souls chose the body and life and parents we have to learn whatever lessons we were meant to learn to become stronger souls, so don’t drop out of school just yet. It will all make sense in the end.

Find Your Spiritual Comfort Zone

I’m not a church person. My minister father wishes I was, but I’ll probably never be a church person. Throughout this year though, especially during those fall on the track moments, I’ve found myself turning to spiritual solutions. I took meditation/yoga classes, went on hippie retreats to country towns with communal showers and silent breakfasts, checked out books from the religion and spirituality section of the libraries/bookstores, watched a lot of Oprah Winfrey Network and did everything in my power to feel closer to something higher than myself. And you know what, in those moments I felt a little better.

Don’t get me wrong, God and I have had our ups and downs. I’d often (and by often I mean ALL OF THE TIME) yell at God. “Why are you letting this happen?! I haven’t done anything wrong! What’s the point in all of this! The jokes on you if you think that I’m going to church! Oh and nope I don’t feel bad for yelling at you, so don’t even make me feel guilty about it!”

Well, the joke was on me.

The irony is I went to church for the first time in 14 (actually probably 15) years and one of the sermons suggested that God expects us to yell at him and that we shouldn’t feel bad about it at all.

Now I’m not saying church/organized religion works for everyone. I’m still very wary of it myself and probably disagree with 60% of my congregation, but I will say that there is something comforting about aligning yourself with something higher than yourself.

Church might not work for you but maybe studying space, watching TED talks, meditating, doing yoga, taking hikes, reading on beautiful mountaintop, or walking through state parks will. There’s a calm you get from experiencing nature/religion/oneness with the universe that makes life feel more meaningful

Find a spiritual solution that works for you. It certainly brings moments of calm during the storm.

Surrender. Surrender. Surrender Again.

There’s something very powerful about surrender. On the outside surrender doesn’t seem like a very powerful option but how often have you tried to push for something only for it to backfire or leave you feeling even more defeated in the end?

Throughout the year I kept pushing myself to feel better, to write, to work harder, to spend more time with family and friends thinking if I just kept pushing I’d feel better, but in the end everything I tried left me feeling exhausted.

I was unhappy and denying it through activity was pointless.

The turning point for me was applying for jobs. I thought, maybe a new job would be a good change. All of my friends were leaving and my job was becoming pretty routine. I refused to see how these two facts could be blessings in disguise and instead saw them as prompts to leave myself.

It didn’t dawn on me until I got a job offer that I never actually wanted a new job, I just wanted a distraction. Luckily I realized this before jumping ship.

It took a new job opportunity to finally make me realize how important it was for me to stay at my current job. I’ve always wanted to be a entrepreneur and this job would have been a nice but very fleeting distraction. With my friends leaving and knowing my job like the back of my hand, I now have the opportunity to devote complete mental energy to my book proposals.

It wasn’t until I surrendered to the discomfort of the present moment that I was able to see the bigger picture and learn to appreciate the blessings in disguise.

In what ways are you abandoning your future hopes/dreams for temporary gratification? In what ways is your unwillingness to surrender making you unhappy? I had to ask myself these questions a lot and I will say that the wiser more honest decision WAS NEVER the easier decision. It wasn’t until I was able to get quiet and look at my life from the perspective of my future self that I was able to surrender to the present moment.

When in doubt, surrender. Answers seem to pop up when you do.

Overall, 2015 hasn’t been a great year but I still have hope for 2016. For anyone else wading through the waiting, I’m going to tell you what I wish more people would say:

“I completely understand where you’re coming from. It’s really frustrating to feel like nothing is changing.  I’m not going to give you some cliche bullshit and tell you things get better because I know you don’t want to hear that. You just want to feel understood and validated for feeling the way that you do. You just want to feel heard and understood. I get it and I hope you feel better. In the meantime, here’s a tissue and a hug.”




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