I work as a marriage and family therapy intern. When I tell people what I do, they often think that I can solve their problems. To be honest, however, the most important part of my job comes before we solve anything. People come to me after they’ve lost all hope of solving their problems, so the most important part of my job, which makes all the other parts possible, is giving hope.
I have come up with this foolproof list of five ways to get hope back in your life. If you use these when you’re feeling down, I can promise that you’ll put me out of business in no time!
In my undergraduate writing classes, I was always told to steer clear of abstract concepts, and I think we should do that in life, too. Hope isn’t a tangible thing, so how could you ever believe that you have it? If you woke up tomorrow morning and a miracle happened- you had hope again- how would you know? This question will help you define hope so you know what you’re aiming for.
2. Think About Your Past Accomplishments
We all have them… I promise! Even if it’s as small as an ‘A’ on a big paper, or that one time you helped a friend through a rough situation, you’ve accomplished something. If you’re stuck, ask someone who loves you. Thinking about things you’ve done right will remind you that you can do more things right in the future.
3. Make Adjustments to Your Support Group
Positivity only creates more positivity, but negativity does the same too. If you start to notice that all your friends are constantly complaining, you might want to make some adjustments.
4. Find a New Hobby
You can really make any type of change to your life in order to keep you from feeling stuck, but a new hobby is a great place to start because it’s low-risk and fun. One idea is to start reading more. It’s an escape, as well as a great way to learn new things!
5. Trick Your Brain Into Letting You Care For Yourself
Self-care is extremely important and it is constantly neglected! I get that it’s hard to prioritize self-care when you have a million balls in the air and you think you have to catch them all. However, even if you start by simply telling yourself that you care about yourself, it’ll eventually become genuine. It’s just like smiling or laughing. If you smile, even if it’s fake, your brain releases happiness hormones because it thinks it’s suppose to. There’s a whole movement called Laughter Yoga where people try to fake laugh and then eventually the laughter turns real. You can trick your brain. Give it a try.
Those are your tips, straight from a therapist, about how to get more hope in your life. I hope you’ll give them a try and let me know what works for you!
Nicole Locorriere is a 23-year-old graduate student in marriage and family therapy at Seton Hall University. She got her B.A. in psychology from West Chester University, and can't wait to move back there after graduation! Nicole also runs a blog called Uninspired, which focuses on mental health and other aspects of helping twenty-somethings transition smoothly into this whole "adulting" thing. When she's not helping couples and families work out their differences or conquering the blogosphere, you can find her substitute teaching.