Monday, July 10, 2006

Habit of Hope

What are your emotional habits? Do you easily fall into a pattern of feeling discouraged or sad? If so, that makes life an uphill battle. How do you cope with it? Do you hurt yourself—either directly or by overeating or doing things that you know are likely to add to the hurt? Do you maybe use the idea of snapping a rubber band on your wrist?

If any of the above statements are true for you, I’d like to suggest an alternative: creating a HABIT of HOPE.

First, here’s why I hate the rubber band suggestion that at one point was really popular: YOU”RE HURTING YOURSELF!!! Doesn’t matter what the goal is, it involves hurting yourself. Here’s my alternative suggestion: Surround yourself with things you LIKE that you couldn’t have when you were a child. For me, that includes clothes I love, pretty jewelry, furniture and objects my parents would never have tolerated, food they wouldn’t have eaten or that I wasn’t allowed to have as a child THAT I LIKE.

The reason I prefer this approach is that it instantly grounds me in the present: NOW I am safe, NOW I am happy, NOW I can create the life I want to have. It is also tangible proof that I CAN have things that make me happy, I CAN create the life I want to have, I won’t always feel this way (if in that moment I’m unhappy or scared or hurting).

Which approach is more likely to make you want to hang around and enjoy life? Which approach helps you believe in YOU and your ability to create the life you want to have?

Another really big part of creating a HABIT of HOPE is to find ways, EVERY DAY to smile, NO MATTER WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON IN YOUR LIFE. If you do this when times are good, then when you hit a rough patch you already have this habit. And by smiling, even in the midst of difficult times, you are promising yourself that you will not always feel this way. You are promising yourself that no matter what happens you will ALWAYS be able to find moments of happiness.

The other step to creating a HABIT of HOPE is to make and hold onto a list of everything good about yourself—all your strengths, all your successes, all the good things about who you are. And every time you feel stressed or scared, look at that list and remind yourself of these things!

By creating such a list and creaing a HABIT of HOPE, you’ll find that you are happier and odds are you will also be more successful. Other people will begin to interact with you in new ways as you change how you see yourself and life and the levels of stress hormones will be lower so your brain will literally function more efficiently. In addition, you will not need to hurt others out of fear, you will not need to act in ways that run counter to your own sense of who you want to be, and you will find more and more good things coming into your life as you become more and more able to see the possibilities around you.

So please, begin today. Seek out things you have that make you smile. Surround yourself with them. Make it a point to find reasons to smile at least three times every day (and even more if you can!), and make that list of successes and strengths and good things about yourself. Create that HABIT OF HOPE.

Sending safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),


Marj aka Thriver said...

Yes, I like keeping entries in an "abundance journal" or taking my inner child out for an ice cream treat much better than snapping myself with a rubber band (which I never did, but I heard of that method). Thanks for letting us use this post for the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse. Good stuff!

April_optimist said...


I love abundance journals. Or anything that reminds us of the good things in our lives.

Emily said...

Hi April

What a great post. I agree totally with you about controlling the habit. Infact I've just penned a post about depression and how I tried to beat it. I am going to stick it up tomorrow. It was inspired by Mike at Child Abuse Survivor.

I've always been someone who allowed themselves to be dragged down. Until 2003. I looked the blackest pit of despair in the face, thought about ending it all and chose to stick two fingers up at all those "bad" things and get on with it.

This year has been the happiest year I can remember. I've let go of feeling unhappy.

Thanks for your post

April_optimist said...


Read your post about coping and I liked what you said about realizing bad things sometimes happen and it won't always be that way because I think that's key to the point in my life where I went from being in despair to beginning to be optimistic and eventually to where I am now.