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The Value of Hope Therapy

You can do this at home.

Key points

  • Looking ahead to see yourself healed from a regrettable incident allows the mind to reach for the possibilities that are available.
  • Anticipating positive outcomes perks up the energy to participate in the process with curiosity and creativity.
  • Visualizing a more positive future can be a turning point for many people who are struggling.
Source: ShonEjai/Pixabay

Linda : When people have disappointment, loss, and frustration in their lives, they don’t necessarily experience it, then bounce back right away. They sometimes get stuck in negative thinking and feel sad, depressed, angry, and hopeless for extended periods. When the feelings of being bogged down persists, it’s a skillful choice to find a good therapist who will assist you to delve into what you are experiencing, name it, and use the power of your imagination to see yourself moving past the setback. And it is possible to use these same methods on your own.

Looking ahead to see yourself healed from the regrettable incident allows the mind to reach for the possibilities that are available. You can choose among them to move toward the goal of being happy once again, perhaps even stronger than before. Anticipating positive outcomes perks up the energy to participate in the process with curiosity and creativity.

Consider the case of Brittany and Tom. She had been married to Tom for 14 years with three children aged 13, 11, and 9. When Tom announced to her that he had fallen in love with a woman at his place of work, Brittany was devastated. And when he moved out, she fell into an agitated depression. She could not imagine forgiving him for “betraying her” and “ruining her life.” For many months, she grieved the loss of the life that she had known. When the grief did not subside, she entered into therapy.

The first sessions were around her feeling so trapped by her negative thoughts. She was convinced that her future was sure to be characterized by distrust of every single person in her life. She couldn’t even imagine that she would ever be happy again. Nor could she imagine trusting friends. And certainly, she would never dare to have a romantic partner.

For months, Brittany dragged herself to work each day and used her limited energy to attempt to be a “good enough” mother to her kids. Brittan expected that she would suffer for the rest of her life and actually believed that she had been ruined. She told the therapist, “I feel so numb and dead inside. The only feeling I can contact is rage at Tom.”

The turning point came when she realized that she had a choice to use the power of her mind to visualize a more positive future. Brittany liked to journal, so a few times a week she took time to allow her imagination to dream up antidotes to her misery and loneliness. She declared in her mind, and then wrote down that family and friends would call her and send her text messages and emails that reassured her that she was valued by them. Imagining the lift that she would feel hearing from them prompted her to take some steps. She began to send friendly text messages and emails to her favorite people. In her words, “I rejoined the land of the living.”

“I kept taking small steps, and when I did take them, I began to believe that I might one day reach a point where I could be happy and risk being close to someone again. It took many months for the gloom that was pinning me down to subside. Instead of waiting for it to lift on its own accord, I became proactive in shifting the heavy gloom off of me. Each time I wrote in my journal about being engaged with life again, a bit of gloom vanished. Each time I reached out to connect to a relative or a friend, or heard from one of them, a bit of gloom flowed away. I no longer felt so alone in this world.”

“On the rare occasions that I could imagine that some good could come from Tom leaving me, I began to consider the idea that I was better off without a partner who didn’t really love me. Big pieces of gloom dropped off at those times. Over the months, the idea that my life was permanently ruined gave way to the idea that by leaving, Tom had offered me an opportunity to grow into my best possible self. My journal entries were full of grand ideas of the wonderful people I would meet. And I began to see myself as a nitty-gritty survivor rather than an unlovable reject.”

“I relapsed into negative thinking many times. But backsliding has happened so many times by now, that I know that it’s just part of the process. I know what to do when the gloominess descends. I sit right down and start writing in my journal, illustrating the lovely possibilities for my future. To move the process along, I deliberately add the steps that I can take to manifest my vision.”

“My therapist helped me a lot in the beginning to find hope. She took a strong stand that my terrible loss was survivable and that I could heal. When I was full of doubt and darkness, I leaned on her conviction that I could do it. But I take the credit for all the hours I have spent writing in my journal. And I’m proud of myself for the risks I’ve taken to reach out to connect to people when a big part of me wanted to isolate in fear and shame.”

“I had been so obsessed with my anger at what he did to me, that I was allowing Tom to continue to steal my life. Only I could put a stop to that thievery. I began drawing boundaries in my mind around that consuming negativity, to deliberately replace it with possible positive outcomes. I haven’t manifested all my sparkling vision of my future yet, but I’m well on my way!”