How to become more hopeful.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Hope

Hope.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Hope lies on a continuum from low to high.

In a previous blog post titled Stocking Up on Hope, we talked about how hope lies on a continuum, and people can move from low levels of hope to become a high hope person. If you’re feeling less than hopeful right now, there are some things that you can do to increase your levels of hope.

While hope is certainly a feeling, it’s also an attitude towards things. Whether you’re a high hope person or a low hope person, your hope of achieving a specific goal can fluctuate dramatically as time, and you change. People who lose hope of reaching their goals give up trying and become depressed. Once someone comes up with a plan to reach their goal, their level of hope increases, sometimes dramatically.

Hope appears to have two separate components.

Hope seems to be the result of the interplay of two separate factors. First is your belief that reaching your goal will be the result of your own actions. If you believe that outside factors control your fate, that’s not hope, that’s wishful thinking. The second factor in building hope is developing a plan so that your actions take you where you want to go. Let’s look at these two separate factors.

Believing in your abilities increases the motivation to act.

One component of hope, at least according to hope theory, is agency. Closely related to self-confidence and affected by your self-concept, agency is your belief that you might be able to take actions that would lead you toward your goal. Those actions can be all sorts of different things. You might seek out help from friends, family, or a professional. You might begin to develop a plan of action yourself. Any one of these steps is likely to increase your level of hope.

Having a roadmap to take you to your goal increases hope.

The second component in hope theory is developing a plan of action. If you believe there are pathways you can take, which might lead you closer to your goal, this is certain to increase your level of hope. Let’s look at some of the ways that developing a plan of action can increase your level of hope.

Breaking goals into smaller doable steps increases hope.

If you try to eat an elephant in one bite, you’re going to choke. I see lots of people who try to accomplish one big major goal in a short period of time and end up defeated. You decide you don’t like your current job and you’re going to go back to school and get a degree so you can get a better paying job. If you try to take too many classes that first semester, you’re likely to overload yourself, do poorly in those classes, and give up.

One reason people lose hope is that they radically overestimate what they can accomplish over the next year. People who accomplish a lot of their life goals discover that important goals are rarely achieved in a single year, not even in a single step. Those same people often underestimate what they can accomplish in five years. You probably won’t get a college degree in one year. But going a little at a time over five years or so, can result in a college degree and a whole new career.

People often have a goal of getting out of debt and saving for retirement. They try to not spend anything the first month or two using all their money to pay off their credit card. The process becomes so unpleasant that they give up. Changing your spending and saving habits so that each month you spend a little less than you make, and that surplus goes to paying down your past debt can result in being debt-free over a period of years.

More options mean more hope.

People who have only one possible pathway to reaching their goal are likely to get frustrated, become hopeless, and give up. In developing a plan to reach your goal, it’s useful to have multiple options. You might select one option, option A, try that, and if it’s not taking you where you want to go, revise your plan. Multiple options mean you will be more hopeful of eventually reaching your goal.

Goals take time to accomplish.

Most goals, the worthwhile ones, will take time to accomplish. A thinking trap that leads to low hope is the belief that there is some magical action that will produce your goal quickly. If you expect someone else to solve your problem, you’re likely to become disillusioned. Often the solution to the problem requires you to develop specific skills. Even if a family member can get you your dream job, if you don’t have the skills and education required for that job, you’re not likely to keep it very long.

Specific goals are easier to accomplish, then vague ones.

Lots of people have vague general goals. They want to be wealthy. Failure to quantify that goal means that no matter how much money you make, you won’t feel wealthy. Lots of people who say they want to “be wealthy” try to make themselves feel wealthy by spending like a wealthy person. Wealthy people who spend that way don’t stay wealthy long. Being wealthy is about making more money than you spend or said the other way, spending less money each month then you make.

The numbers have changed over the years, but the principle is the same. When I asked students how much money they would need to have to be wealthy I frequently get numbers in the millions or even billions. The truth is that a very small amount of money will put you into the wealthiest of all Americans. More than half of all Americans owe more on their credit cards than they have in the bank. If you can pay off your credit card balance, and save a small amount of money, somewhere between 500 and 1000 dollars, you will rapidly move into the wealthiest one half of all Americans. Depending on the economy somewhere between $3000 and $5000 will move you into the wealthiest one-third of all Americans.

Setting a goal of paying off your credit card and saving even a small amount of money, rapidly increases your security, and takes you in the direction of being a wealthy American.

So, there you have the essential ingredients to having more hope.

For more on this topic, please see the category, Hope.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders, see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

Stocking up on hope.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Hope

Hope.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Hope lies on a continuum.

The way people talk, and some of the articles I read on the Internet, might lead you to believe that hope is a genetic factor, like eye color, hair color, and so on. In this way of thinking, when your genes are being blended at the time of conception, God, or random chance, decides on what genes you will get from the pool available and, therefore, what you will be like, and you’re stuck with that. While some genes are yes or no, like hair color, even those genes can change in the way they are expressed across the lifespan. My gene for black hair now produces white hair.

Hope is one of those things like your weight, which lies on a continuum. Your environment, early childhood experiences, possibly genetics, may start you off with high hope or low hope or somewhere in between. But throughout your life, a great many factors can move you along the continuum resulting in increases or decreases in hope. This is good news for someone low in hope. But it’s also a caution for those who are high in hope, that they need to nurture that high hope.

Hope is a way of thinking, feeling, and behaving.

Many people think of hope as a feeling. It’s easy to think that whatever your feelings are, they were caused by outside influences, and therefore you have no control over them. I don’t believe that’s accurate. Hope, like other feelings, is fed or starved by what you’re thinking and by the way you behave.

This connection between thinking, feeling, and behaving, is the basis of cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is one of the most recognized therapeutic approaches. We know that changing the way you think about things can change your feelings. As your feelings change, you are likely to alter your behavior. So, keeping track of your thoughts, avoiding rumination, and challenging unhelpful thoughts can all change the way you’re feeling.

This process also works in the other direction. If you begin to behave in a more positive manner, you begin to feel better, and your thinking about your situation will change. Repeated research has shown that aerobic exercise can treat depression. Depressed people who walk for twenty minutes a day, five days a week or more, even when they don’t feel like walking, often experience a reduction in their depression. This approach is summed up by the old recovery proverb that people who want a different result in life should “act as if.”

High hope people tend to follow this system. Whether they are aware of the value of cognitive-behavioral therapy or not, high hope people repeatedly tell themselves they can do something. These self-statements, sometimes called positive affirmations, change the way they feel about things. These new feelings result in high hope people taking action towards those goals, and as a result, they begin to feel more hopeful.

When you run low on hope you need to replenish your supply.

Once you begin to understand that hope is on a continuum and you’re not stuck with a low amount, the possibility that you can replenish your supply opens up. So, if you are currently low in hope, there are things you can do to increase your level of hope and create a happier, more productive life.

Reaching out for help increases your supply of hope.

Hope is one of those emotions that isn’t reduced by sharing. Sometimes when people can’t see even a faint glimmer of the light of hope, others around them can help them find the hope they are lacking. Just the act of reaching out, talking to your friends, positive family members, or professionals, can increase your supply of hope. Sometimes what you need is an infusion of hope from friends or professionals.

The counselor’s office has a good inventory of hope.

If there’s one thing you don’t want to run out of during these difficult times, it’s hope. If you watch the news too much, you are likely to believe that hope is in even shorter supply than toilet paper. When you need groceries, you go to the grocery store. When you need medication, you should visit a pharmacy. When you’re going through difficult times and running short on hope, there’s no better place to find it in your therapist’s office, whether that office is a physical place or a virtual office. If you’re not finding hope when you talk to your counselor or therapist, then you may be shopping in the wrong place.

What varieties of hope are counselors stocking these days?

Counselors have a remarkably good supply of hope. And no matter how much hope they give to their clients, more seems to arrive each day. When clients arrive at a counselor’s office, just the fact that they made it through the front door often increases their level of hope. Being able to take an action that you think might be helpful raises the possibility you have something to hope for.

In future posts, I want to give you some additional information about hope. We’ll talk a little bit about how to grow more hope, and some of the technique’s counselors use to help clients find the hope they need.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders, see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

Grow Your Power.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

No Power?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Empowerment – growing your power.

Ever wish you had more power? Would you like to be more in control of your own life? Do you feel helpless to change your life? There are ways to increase your power, be more effective and have more of the things you want in life.

No matter how much or how little power you feel you have today, you can begin to grow that sense of personal power, step by step, starting today.

You may have learned to be helpless, been in a situation where no matter what you did, you were told you were wrong. Your efforts may have been invalidated and unrewarded. People may have taught you to be helpless. If you learned to be helpless you can unlearn that way of thinking.

Right now, what are you doing to enlarge your feelings of personal power? If not today, when will you begin to take control of your life?  Here are some ways to grow that personal power.

Look for areas in your life where you can take control.

If you focus only on the areas that are out of your control, you become debilitated and paralyzed. Focus on your choices.

When you think you have no control, you make it so. You may be in a situation where you are dependent on others. You have more control than you think. You may not be able to control your situation or surroundings, but you can control your attitude. You can think like a victim, or you can think like a survivor and be a participant in your life.

Look for help or a mentor to develop your skills.

If you are in a low power situation, an abusive relationship or poverty, look for resources that can help you. Teachers, counselors, or mentors can help you to grow your power.

Can’t find a person to help you? Look for books on changing your life.

Begin making your own decisions.

Look for areas in your life where you can decide for yourself. Large or small, it does not matter, begin the process of thinking about how you feel about things and what you want. Cultivate the habit of making as many decisions about your life as possible. Especially pay attention to how you feel about things. If you feel helpless you may be giving up your power to someone else without even noticing you are giving your control away.

Try new things to grow your self-esteem.

Are you going for ice cream? Look for a new flavor to try. You may like it. You may not. Check off that one from your to-do list. The more experiences you have in life, the more you can adapt to change. Like it or not change is a part of life. Doing a wider variety of activities increases your sense of competency.

Volunteering to help others make you more confident.

This is a great way to try on new behaviors. In 12 step groups, people will become secretaries of meetings or chair a meeting. The experience of trying on a new behavior can increase your self-confidence. You may surprise yourself with how well you can do something.

Practice leadership to improve your confidence.

In many residential treatment facilities, the group selects client officials. Each week as clients come and go, these officials change. Clients frequently tell me this was the first time in their lives they have been in a leadership role. They discover talents they never knew they had.

Do something for yourself to feel more confident.

Taking good care of you is not being selfish. You can’t be of service to others if you don’t have it to give. Self-care is important. Making yourself a priority tells you that you are worth being cared for. Feeling good about yourself, knowing you mater will enlarge your sense of personal power and control of your life.

Make something “your own.”

Find something that brings joy to your life. Do you have a favorite author? Which sports team is “your” team? Do you crochet? Do you cook Italian? What interest or activity says, “you?” What is your religion or spiritual connection?  Feeling that there is something you connect to makes you feel more anchored, more a part of the community.

You’re going to spend your whole life with you. Invest some time in getting to know you.

Learning a new skill will make you feel more competent.

Expanding your skills is a great way to make you feel more competent and useful. Is there something you always wanted to try? If not now, when will you do this? Look for someone in your life who has this skill and ask them to teach you. Go to places where people who have this skill hang out and learn from them. Clubs, online blogs, and short-term classes are all great sources of information. Stores sometimes teach courses on how to use the products they sell.

Get more education or training, and you will feel more confident.

Opportunities for education and training are more available than at any time in history.  There are plenty of adults of all ages back in school, learning a new skill. Check out some of the online tutorials which show you how to do something. Staying current on your skills makes you feel better about yourself.

There are some suggestions for creating empowerment and growing your personal power. Have you found any other ways to feel more competent and in charge of your life?

Leave a comment and share with the rest of us the things you have done to empower yourself and grow that personal power.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

Confidence.

Confidence

Confidence.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Confidence.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

― Eleanor Roosevelt, This is My Story

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

― Thoreau, Henry David

“When I was a child my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll be the pope.’ Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.”

― Pablo Picasso

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. There are an estimated 100,000 words in the English language that are feelings related. Some emotions are pleasant, and some are unpleasant, but all feelings can provide useful information. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

Boldness.

Boldness.

Boldness.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Boldness.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

“Freedom lies in being bold.”

― Robert Frost

“They did not know it was impossible, so they did it.”

― Mark Twain

“Boldness be my friend.”

― William Shakespeare

 

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. There are an estimated 100,000 words in the English language that are feelings related. Some emotions are pleasant, and some are unpleasant, but all feelings can provide useful information. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

Trust.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Trust sign.

Trust.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Trust

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”

― William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

― Ernest Hemingway

“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

“It is more shameful to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them.”

― Confucius

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

Trust

Confidence.

Sunday Inspiration.   Post by David Joel Miller.

Confidence.

Confidence

Confidence.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

“Relentless, repetitive self-talk is what changes our self-image.” — Denis Waitley

“You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do.” ― Olin Miller

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” – Will Rogers

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you please share them.

Today is Spring.

Sunday Inspiration.   Post by David Joel Miller.

Spring.

Spring is here. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Spring is here.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”

― Mark Twain

“Spring work is going on with joyful enthusiasm.”

― John Muir, The Wilderness World of John Muir

Today is the first day of spring. Officially, here on the west coast of the U. S., it started at 9:31 last night but it is hard to see spring after dark. Let’s hope this Spring is a good one for you.

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you please share them.

Hope is like the stars

Hope is like the stars

Hope is like the stars

“Hope itself is like a star – not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity. ”

― Charles H. Spurgeon

Hope: To have confidence; trust with earnest expectation of good.

To entertain or indulge an expectation of something desired

Expect; regard as likely to happen

– Century Dictionary, 1889

What give you hope?