As children we all grow up thinking and believing that there is something, outside ourselves, that’s going to “fill us up” …complete us. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” ignites thoughts of careers that include farmers, architects, bus drivers, engineers, doctors, lawyers, prime ministers and presidents. Some of us think about our future in the context of our relationships. When I grow up I will meet the man or woman of my dreams and we will live happily ever after. If we felt somewhat unloved during our childhood we indulged in fantasies of unconditional love in the future. And if we experienced having to make do with very little, we vowed that one day soon, in the not-too-distant-future, we would become rich beyond imagination and conquer the world. Behind each of these scenarios was this underlying belief “If I just put enough effort into it and learn the pathway, I can get it or it will come to me.
Except life didn’t quite turn out the way we initially envisaged. Plus we didn’t figure in the people in our lives who would tell us things like “why don’t you stop with that silly idea and go find a good-paying job?” “I knew you would fail that exam. Couldn’t you have chosen an easier career?” “You are never going to be rich! Nobody in this family was ever good with money, what made you think it would be different for you?”
As children we never factored in failure as an option but now failure seems to define everything we attempt to do. We’re struggling, day in day out in the business. We’re barely making ends meet. We can’t pay ourselves, let alone our bills and our customers seem to have morphed into demanding, greedy monsters.
Dr. Thomas F. Fogarty, in a paper called *The Therapy of Hopelessness* says “Hope does inspire calm but in the promise of happiness, it may compromise reality and wisdom. How does hope meet with failure, insignificance and fear?” He goes on to share that emotions are invaluable but the emotional tragedy of humanity is that most people run from them. That is they run until emptiness catches up with them, as it inevitably does. Hopelessness is the fuel of emptiness.
In general, any pain we feel is an indication that whatever we’re currently doing is no longer working! We usually feel hopeless because it’s really not fashionable to talk about pain and struggle to others and so we try to figure it out for ourselves. Because we’re mulling it around in our own heads, we have a tendency to catastrophize. For instance, if we haven’t got any new business in a while, we may believe we are a complete and utter failure and will lose the business. In reality, it may only be a temporary situation, and there are things that we can do to change this situation. The other kind of catastrophizing is closely linked to the first, but it is more mental and more future oriented. This kind of catastrophizing occurs when we look to the future and anticipate all the things that are going to go wrong. We then create a reality around those thoughts “It’s bound to all go wrong for me…” Because we believe something will go wrong, we make it go wrong.
If you’ve lost all hope or losing hope fast then stop and realize that what you are feeling at this very moment is a gift, a guideline, a support system, a CALL TO ACTION. When we have lost all hope – when all expectations of others and things outside ourselves are lowered, we can begin to get a glimpse of the unread book inside ourselves. We can find the courage to ask ourselves “What is the message that these feelings are bringing me that I chose to previously ignore?
Remember when I talked earlier about the hope and optimism we possessed as children that if we just put enough effort in and learn the correct pathway that we will end up with what we want or get it from someone else? When this doesn’t happen feelings of unworthiness start creeping up on us. We feel inadequate because we haven’t achieved what we set out to. The message here really is that you don’t presently have a level of skill necessary for the task at hand. It’s telling you that you need more information, understanding, strategies, tools or confidence. Appreciate the encouragement and opportunity to improve. Remind yourself that you are not PERFECT and that you don’t need to be. Find a guide to teach you what you need to know.
If you’ve been dealing with a particular problem for a long time, without resolution, you may tend to look at that problem as permanent. At this point your hopelessness is growing out of your feelings of overload and/or overwhelm. You cannot find reasons or meaning anymore for why your life has been so negatively impacted. You’ve been impacted by people, events and forces outside of your control. You’re at the end of your rope because you simply cannot deal with your problems. They’re bigger than you and you’re beginning to think that your situation cannot change. The message here is for you to step back and ask yourself “what’s most important for me right now?” The reason you’ve reached this point is because you have been trying to do everything at once. You’ve been trying to change overnight. All your efforts seem futile.
Today is the day you take back control of your life. Empty your brain of all the challenges that have been swirling around inside your head like a tornado. Take a look at your business/life and ask yourself – “Out of all these things I’ve been dealing with in my life so far, what is the absolute most important thing for me to focus on?” Tackle that thing until you’ve mastered it. If you don’t know how, get help. Focusing on that one thing will begin to produce the results you need. You have not been focusing, but scattering your thoughts all over the place. This resulted in zero impact and zero improvement.
You can immediately transform from someone who feels inadequate into someone who’s learning. From someone who feels helpless and depressed you can become more self confident as you feel more in control of your life and the direction you’re heading in. Don’t fall into the trap of helplessness and make yourself the problem. You are NOT inadequate. You may be untrained or unskilled in a particular area but you’re not inadequate. Your capability for greatness still lies within, even now. You have to believe that enough to make a change.