I have been thinking lately about the Greek myth of Pandora’s Box. Do you remember it? Pandora was thought to be the first woman on earth and was endowed with many talents by the Gods. In addition, Zeus gave her a jar for safe-keeping that she was not to open under any circumstances.
Because Pandora had been given the quality of curiosity, however, she eventually opened the jar which released all of the world’s sins. Yet at the very bottom of the jar was a single, very important and powerful gift – hope.
Hope is such an important piece for us all – not just in these hard times, but always.
Hope is what makes any difficulties bearable.
Hope is what links people.
Hope is how you continue to have choices and how you heal.
In my work, I discuss hope often and tell people who have the least amounts of it that I am holding hope for them so they can have it back when they are ready. Hope is a part of every goal that my clients strive toward. Hope is the most used word in many religious texts including both the Bible and the Koran.
Hope matters as an underpinning on which you can structure your life. It’s the ability to connect with a part of yourself that knows the bigger picture, believes in growth and life and is empowered by the sense of purpose that results.
Hope is a state of mind that influences behavior. In turn, hope itself is influenced by thoughts and attitudes, and not by circumstances. I’m sure you know stories of people who have carried on in terrible circumstances and achieved great things. Their personal thoughts and attitudes created hope rather than their circumstances destroying hope.
One of the ways to create hope then is by monitoring your thoughts. There is nothing more important than your self-talk – what you say to yourself about yourself. Hope promoting self-talk includes “I can do this” “I will not be stopped” “This is hard and I can do it anyway”.
It is not enough to know what actions to take; hope requires you to believe that you WILL take those actions. As you monitor your thoughts, be on the lookout for fear and shame because they are the enemies of hope. When you find fearful or shameful thoughts, label them for what they are. For some reason, actively pointing those emotions out to yourself can take away much of their power.
The second creator of hope is to be mindful of your progress. You are always changing and when you work at something, the progress is in the positive direction. If you get focused too far down the road on your goal though, you don’t see the change. Have you ever been hiking and the top of the mountain looked as far away after an hour of effort as it did at the start? That perspective damages hope.
Become a person who can see the small shifts in things. Encourage those small changes in yourselves and others and be willing to meet challenges to keep that tiny momentum going. Keep one eye on the path you are on and one eye on the goal. This is the composition of hope and it opens you to experience more of the world around you.
The bottom line about hope is to remember that you are enough. You are complete as a person and what you bring with you is enough.
There are great resources, strengths and possibilities within you. Some of them you have used in your past experiences, others are still waiting to be discovered.
You have the ability to take care of yourself and do what needs to be done. Sometimes that means turning to others in a sense of community and asking for help. At other times it means sharing who you are and what you have with those around you.
At all times, it means that when you tap into who you really are, you will find that you have what you need. That is the power of hope, Pandora’s one gift to the world. It is all we need.
How is hope helping you along in your life? What ways do you have for raising your own sense of hope? Share your thoughts about hope in the comments.