Every individual encounters the looming shadow of hopelessness at some point in their life. Whether stemming from personal setbacks, global injustices, or inner conflicts, this feeling often leaves us questioning our very existence and purpose.
This week, we delve deep into the origins of hopelessness, seeking not just to understand it but to arm ourselves with strategies to push back against the darkness.
Table Of Contents
- What Is Hopelessness?
- When Hopelessness Is Understandable
- When Hopelessness Comes From Vice
- The Three Best Solutions to Hopelessness
- 1) Personal Future vs. World’s Outlook
- 2) Consume Positivity, Reject Negativity
- 3) Acknowledge Your Past Triumphs
- Embracing Hope: Charting a Path Towards Personal Greatness
What Is Hopelessness?
Hopelessness is “a feeling or state of despair; lack of hope.”
Hopelessness arises from many things: grief, injustice, terror, and a sense of powerlessness. A feeling of hopelessness is a rational response to the world’s difficulties. However, despair may also arise from relinquishing responsibility for one’s life.
When Hopelessness Is Understandable
“Hold fast to dreams / For if dreams die / Life is a broken-winged bird / That cannot fly.” – Langston Hughes
Hopelessness is a reasonable response to injustices and horrors outside of our control.
Everything from genocide to child abuse are monstrous evils we cannot directly tackle. Many atrocities are so mundane and pedestrian we will never know about them. Because massive and small injustices go unchallenged, unknown, and unresolved, we cannot help but feel dwarfed.
Furthermore, there are sufferings in our lives we cannot avoid. We will watch people die, know of friends and family who are abused and abusers, and experience pain ourselves. None of these realities can be avoided, as suffering is a reality of the human condition.
With most suffering, we can only mitigate the pain. Rarely do we find a resolution. Despair is understandable in these situations.
However, there are many moments where hopelessness is created through vice.
When Hopelessness Comes From Vice
Hopelessness also arises from laziness, corruption, and our iniquities. We crumble under our inadequacies when we cannot accomplish our goals or overcome our faults. We experience the same hopelessness but on a personal scale.
Individuals know we could overcome our vices and achieve our goals but choose not to. Being virtuous is never easy, but it can be done. If we aren’t virtuous, we know we are at fault, and this personal fault creates shame and hopelessness.
This shame drives us to make excuses. Weak individuals convince themselves that the future is hopeless so they can excuse their lack of effort. If tomorrow is never going to improve, then why work hard today?
And to be fair, weak individuals create the hopelessness they believe is inevitable. If you cannot control your vices or achieve your goals, then the future is a horrid place of addiction and personal weakness. However, unlike evils outside your control, you can control your actions and achieve your goals. The lack of personal responsibility is what makes such hopelessness more depressing.
And in that defeat, despair reigns supreme.
The Three Best Solutions to Hopelessness
If you wish to escape despair, adopting a positive mindset and realizing that your future can be brighter is essential. Hopelessness also arises from our own vices. However, it’s our virtues that empower us to overcome our sins.
The solutions to overcoming despair involve restructuring your mind, rethinking how you look at the world, and fighting tirelessly to become your most virtuous self.
1) Personal Future vs. World’s Outlook
“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
You must always separate your future from the world’s future. I am optimistic about my life and my ability to make it better. However, I am pessimistic about the world.
I become hopeless if I focus on the world by following the news, hoping for political change, or speaking to the average citizen. Society is full of addicts and exploitative institutions. These institutions are drunk with power, and their unyielding greed will destroy our society.
Hopelessness festers and grows when external influences take your focus away from yourself. When you focus on what can’t be changed, your pessimism finds its justification. But you will find hope if you focus on what you can control and how your personal strength will allow you to survive life’s tragedies.
Focus on yourself: Make clear goals, schedule your day, and reward yourself for good behavior. Follow up with ignoring the media, reducing your time around weak individuals, and removing your emotional connection to your society.
The more you invest in yourself, the more confidence you can have in a better tomorrow.
2) Consume Positivity, Reject Negativity
What you eat influences how you feel. Similarly, the stories you consume influence how you think. You will conclude that life is hopeless if you consume “realistic” tales of cynicism, death, and suffering. Similar to how a sad song can make you feel sad even if you are happy.
Additionally, the people you associate with will influence you. There is no future for weak individuals who believe they can’t get ahead because the “system” wishes to keep them down. They will never learn to negotiate, empathize with others, or plan their future. They have convinced themselves that nothing they do will change tomorrow. Thus, they are hopeless.
Such people will influence you. They will convince you that your life also has little purpose through peer pressure and indirect manipulation. Even if you recognize the negative influence and refuse to believe the lies, you will still feel emotionally drained by their presence.
Therefore, turn your life around. Accept that negative persuasions in your life will steal your vitality. Instead of watching TV shows that are dark and brooding, pick up a book about dashing knights and clever rogues. Instead of getting high with your loser friends, jog or spend time with the less fortunate.
Such positive things may seem “cliched” or “corny,” but what is the alternative? How much success and freedom have you achieved pursuing cynicism and vices? Has the latest brooding tale made you eager to wake up in the morning? Has spending time with complainers inspired you to challenge yourself?
Poison will affect us whether or not we acknowledge it is poison. Free yourself from negative influences so you can believe in your future.
3) Acknowledge Your Past Triumphs
You are not the same person today who you were yesterday. Through your pain, trials, and sufferings, you have gained wisdom and have accomplished great things.
You must acknowledge your success. People view the future as hopeless because they only see their past mistakes and current vices. They do not recognize what they have done, learned, or left behind.
So, remember what you have done. What vices have you overcome? What great things have you accomplished? Who have you helped? Furthermore, what wisdom have you gained? What stupid decisions before do you avoid now? Or what vices you thought were good you understand as bad, even if you haven’t defeated them yet.
Do not be so arrogant as to believe you cannot recreate the successes you’ve enjoyed.
Embracing Hope: Charting a Path Towards Personal Greatness
We must believe that the future is hopeless as it justifies our laziness, greed, and smallness. Would you start working on your character if you knew you would die tomorrow? If you felt the world would end because of global warming or the evils of our ruling classes, why would you have kids? Exercise? Be something other than a consumer?
Have hope. Take heed and realize others provide lies and weaknesses. Tomorrow can be better than today. Set yourself realistic goals. Reward your good behavior. Separate your future from the future of the world. Work towards your independence through clever and frequent work. Realize that you can escape the hells the modern world has created for itself.
Write down the list above, and as you work through each point, you’ll realize the journey is not just about battling hopelessness but also about personal growth. Once you discipline yourself, optimism in your future becomes second nature.
Embracing these strategies not only combats hopelessness but also promotes overall mental wellness.
Become an individual and earn your hope.
“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” ― Alexander Pope
- What do you want your life to be like by tomorrow? By next week? By next year? By the time of your death? What are you seeking to accomplish? Define your goals, then map out the best ways to reach them. Nothing must be perfect, but you must act towards your goals. For example, I wish to improve as a writer, so I try to write 5,000 words a day. It’s not a flawless goal, but it forces me to practice what I want to master.
- A slew of positive works capture the human spirit even through struggles. For example, you have Iron Giant, All-Star Superman, The Fountainhead, and many others. Explore my reading list page or the works to consume category for fiction you should consume.
- Write out the vices that used to plague you. How did you overcome them? How do you struggle with them now? Take those vices and outline what you did to defeat them. Take your list and see how you can apply your successes in the past to the current issues you face today.
Please remember it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.