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Does your situation feel hopeless?

In this edition of LIFEadvice Coach Kim addresses hopelessness and how to rise above it and stay positive.
Kim Giles, KSL Modified: May 31, 2014 at 3:35 pm •  Published: June 3, 2014

By Kim Giles and Lisa Stirland


I honestly feel my difficult situation is hopeless and it is ripping me apart. I would love some advice on how to cope when you feel all is lost because right now I am just miserable. I’m not suicidal or anything though, just really discouraged by my lot in life. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. What advice do you have for helping me pull myself up in spite of a hopeless situation?


I appreciate you mentioning that you aren’t suicidal, but if your dark, hopeless feelings don’t go away with an attitude shift, you may still want to visit with a mental health professional to make sure depression is not a factor.

Hopelessness is defined as believing your situation is beyond any optimism, impossible or incapable of solution or improvement. It is not a state of depression, but a discouragement in that your just situation can’t be changed. Hopelessness is often a self-fulfilling prophecy too, because when you believe your situation is hopeless, you usually don't try too hard to change it. Then, when you do nothing to change your situation, and nothing changes, you think you were right.

Aaron T. Beck, the father of Cognitive Therapy and creator of the Beck Hopelessness Scale, found that everyone has negative, hopeless thoughts that pop up spontaneously at times. The problem is that if you spend too much time in these hopeless thoughts, you can start to believe them. Beck helps people identify their hopeless thoughts, evaluate them for accuracy and change them. This simple, but not easy, process almost always leads to greater happiness and more solutions.

The only way to escape the hopelessness cycle is to question your belief about the situation being hopeless. If you can change the belief, you will then put more effort into changing things. However, this can be very hard to do if you've been dealing with your situation for a long time. Just start by choosing to stay open to miraculous possibilities and change your mindset about why this situation is showing up in your life.

I love this line from "Impossible," the inspiring song from Rogers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella:" “The world is full of zanys and fools/who don’t believe in sensible rules/and because these daft and dewy eyed dopes, keep building up impossible hopes/impossible things are happening every day.”

You know it’s true, miracles happen.

I see them all the time. People who thought they couldn’t change who do, and marriages everyone thought were doomed turn around and start to thrive. So don’t throw in the towel too quickly on anything, unless your gut says your perfect journey is to move on. Your inner truth always knows what’s right for you.

If your gut says to keep fighting though, don't give up. Start by telling yourself it is possible to change this situation. Even if the situation won’t change, you can always change, or you can change the way you are experiencing the situation and that could change everything.

There are many factors that lead to hopelessness. Here are five of those factors and some possible solutions:

1. Not finding an easy answer. The reality is that most problems don't have an easy answer, but they do have an answer and you are meant to find it eventually. If you can’t see the solution or a way to change your attitude about your situation, it doesn’t mean there isn’t one. It just means you still have something to learn from the situation the way it is. When the lesson is over, you will find the solution and things will get better. Just don’t give up until then. I've seen couples struggle with their marriages for 20 years and then finally change it. It wasn't easy, but they kept trying until their efforts paid off.

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