Recently whilst mentoring a business owner recovering from cancer related surgery and radiation therapy reached out and said that ‘having hope does not take away the feeling of hopelessness.’ We explored further and the conversation continued to reveal that there was an ebb and flow between ‘hope’ and ‘hopelessness.’ The cycle continued as hope was understood as a dream, and family and friends reiterated hope to ease feelings of hopeless and fear. It became evident that any hope that is not felt as tangible can feel as hopeless.
C.R. Snyder defines Hope ‘as the perceived capability to derive pathways to desired goals, and motivate oneself via these pathways.’ In practice this means that hope is goal-directed energy and pathways is the planning to meet these goals.
Hope can become a reality when the hope has a purpose or intention. The pause created during the Cancer journey does raise questions on ‘What is the purpose of my life?’ ‘Will I feel the same post chemotherapy?’ ‘What will my energy levels feels like?’ ‘Do I dare to hope about life beyond cancer?’ Answers to these questions reveal themselves gradually and this process can feel lonesome and instigate emotions of hopelessness.
From my own experience, I remember feeling ‘numb’ on several occasions as I made life and career choices post cancer. Defining hope as intention changes the brain the chemistry and all of a sudden a feeling of ‘whosh’ happens that feels like a current going up the spine and a momentum is felt.
Intention helps to give shape to the hope or dream and a sense of knowing that life can be purposeful! This summer during a retreat I my life’s statement emerged:
“My life’s truth is that I can apply the wisdom of ‘real’ experience and know that life can be vigorous, privileged and harmonious.”
I chose the words carefully! Cancer to me was a ‘real’ experience that got me in touch with my inner being and mortality. As an avid practitioner of mindfulness and present moment focus I very often feel vigorous and energetic. Mindfulness can be theme less contemplation and this creates mental space for freshness to be invoked and create shifts. Shifts are changes in attitudes and for me this feels like a privilege, as LIFE is a privilege.
My client’s feelings regarding hopelessness are valid as just to be hopeful or to be reminded that there is hope without any momentum can be disheartening, particularly when the body’s physical intelligence plays a zig zag game. Together we came up with a daily routine for 21 days to feel and believe that hope can become real and fruitful.
Key components of the routine are:
I also asked my client to chose a poem that resonated her feelings from: Hopelessness – Hope – Intentions – Momentum – Shifts, he chose the following!
This being human is guest-house
Every morning a new arrival
Ajoy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a croud of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house
Empty of its furniture,
Still, treat each guest honourably
He may be clearing you
Out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
Meet them at the door laughing
And invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
Because each has been sent
As a guide from beyond.
Rumi, The Guest House
IKIGAI Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles
Falling Awake Jon Kabat-Zinn
Power of Intention Dr Wayne Dyer
Psychology of Hope Snyder C.R.