Have you been feeling defeated lately? Do you lack the motivation to do the things you love? Do you feel as if nothing ever goes your way, so there is no point in trying? If so, you may be experiencing signs of hopelessness. Hopelessness can feel like sadness, anger, disappointment, and discouragement. It can often lead to isolation, reduce your daily activity, cause you to experience excessive worry, and leave you feeling overly fatigued.
Why Do You Feel Hopeless?
A variety of factors can cause you to feel hopeless, such as a recent loss or failure. This can cause you to feel overwhelmed, distressed, despondent, or unable to trust yourself or others to make good decisions. You may believe you will never succeed and begin to label yourself as a loser or stupid. Hopelessness grows when you have been rejected or alienated, or when you are feeling oppressed, helpless, or controlled in relationships or work situations. Feeling limited or powerless to rise above or make decisions can also cause you to lose hope.
How to Overcome Feelings of Hopelessness:
If you are experiencing the symptoms of hopelessness – such as sadness, fatigue, low motivation, anger, agitation, and increased isolation and worry – there are tangible steps you may take to begin to feel stronger about yourself and your situation:
- Often, difficult situations require a more nuanced approach than you may initially assume. Avoid over-generalizations or black-and-white thinking; instead, think in colors. Take notice when you analyze yourself and your surroundings, and practice looking for the positive in things.
- To confront challenges head-on, it is helpful to make a list of possible solutions. It can also be valuable to write down pros and cons so you can better visualize the positive and negative aspects of situations.
- Examine the evidence and put your thoughts on trial. Search for the facts in all situations. Use your analytical skills to merge the emotional thoughts with more rational ones to see a clearer picture.
- Write down your strengths and values. Visualizing what you do well over what you don’t may help you take notice of your positive attributes. It may also be beneficial to list all the things you have accomplished over the past day or week. Did you make your bed? Do the dishes? Walk the dog? Finish a work project? Have lunch with a friend? Note each of your actions and take pride in any tasks you have already completed.
- Set up opportunities for small victories. Create small objectives to accomplish, such as grocery shopping, vacuuming your living room, or doing laundry. If you have not felt like going to the gym, take a small walk around your house or neighborhood to start small. This will give you the confidence and motivation to continue achieving great things!
- Don’t personalize your thoughts and feelings. Feelings are not facts and can change quickly.
- Review negative labels you may be calling yourself or others and give yourself a new label such as “rock star,” “awesome,” or “capable” to use when you think about next steps.
- Talk to someone about your thoughts. It can be helpful to have someone you trust give you honest feedback about your ideas and choices you have made, or analyses of situations to get another view.
If you have tried some of these tips, keep finding something new or different to try. You may want to seek the support of someone you trust or a professional – who may assist with determining if you are experiencing signs of depression or anxiety, such as:
- Being unable to shake the negative feelings about yourself, others, or your surroundings
- Not being able to get out of the house or out of bed
- Experiencing an excessive or debilitating sense of worry or dread
- Having thoughts of self-harm
Whether you are experiencing the above symptoms, or you want to foster a more hopeful outlook going forward, there is support for you. You do not have to sit with your hopelessness alone.