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Sassy’s Blog (#6): How Can We Hold on to Hope When We Struggle?

Sassy’s Blog is named for the very astute cat of WRC’s Clinical Director and Resource Coordination Counselor, Kai Qualls, M.A., LPC. The theme of the Blog is Resilience, which is especially timely given our shared uncertainty during the COVID-19 crisis. We hope you will enjoy and benefit from Sassy’s Blog, this month written by fellow member of the Resource Coordination and Counseling team, Rujuta Chincholkar-Mandelia, PhD, M.Ed.

Hold onto Hope when you Struggle

During this past year, many of my clients have struggled with a heightened sense of anxiety, depression and feelings of loneliness. Although vaccines are now readily available, we are in the midst of a mental health crisis. Some of us have lost a loved one to COVID, some of us have not hugged our family members and friends, and some of us have mixed emotions about being “out in the world” now. We are suffering individually and as a collective. This makes me wonder about hope and what it means to move forward. Can we hold on to hope? Are we able to be optimistic in the middle of loss? How can we “be” out in the world with so much pain and suffering? How can we feel better about our future? How can we stay with our present without losing our self? So many questions!

As I am thinking about hope, pain and suffering, I am reminded of a quote by Victor Frankel. He says, “When we find meaning in suffering, it ceases to be suffering.”  I began to wonder about our ability to find meaning/purpose in our individual and collective suffering. It occurred to me that when we choose to be on the path of finding meaning, we also begin our journey to find hope. And without hope, we struggle to find meaning.

Here are some my thoughts on how to begin our journey:

Mindful Acceptance: I am well aware of how difficult it is to accept our pain. However, the acceptance of our experience provides us with a sense of being settled. We may never to be able to accept the injustice of our pain. Accepting the experience itself provides us with the choice of how we may be able to move forward.

Willingness to commit to action: The choice of moving forward offers us an opportunity to seek action. Hope and optimism with a commitment to action leads to change.

Hope is a process: Through our trials and tribulations, we learn who we are. In order to put our best foot forward, we need to be able to take the resistance away. In doing so, we find meaning and can be more hopeful.

I am hopeful that we can find a balance between our pain and our joy. As Thich Nhat Hanh states, “Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear.”