Hopeful thinking

Hope…just a little bit goes a long way. So if hope is so important why don’t we spend more time cultivating it in our daily lives and those of others? I think the answer is we just forget how important hope is. If you’ve ever looked into the eyes of someone who had truly lost hope it’s desolate and almost inhuman. As if all that is left is the outward shell. Of course, in a world full of suffering and full of humans doing inhuman things to one another, it’s no wonder there are so many hopeless people in the world.

Helping someone remember how to hope again or remembering ourselves can be one of the most rewarding and beautiful experiences. Here are some tips…

Count your blessings or name just one thing you’re thankful for.

Remind yourself you always have a CHOICE in your REACTION to others and the events in your life.

If you’re a therapist or other helping professional here are some ideas to help the children, families, and adults you work with remember how to hope.

Set small obtainable goals with them and celebrate the baby steps along the way!

Help them realize what they want from life. Try asking the miracle question. “Pretend a miracle happened while you were sleeping. What is the very first thing in the morning you notice when you wake up that tells you a miracle happened in the night?” Then work with them to set smaller goals to reach that. The miracle question can also help you discover if the individual is not getting their basic needs met or there is a daily violation of personal safety in his/her life, which is definitely where you need to start! This might be a child responding, “I would know a miracle happened because there would be food in the fridge.” Until those basic needs are met, we cannot help them meet higher level social, emotional, or behavioral goals.

Help him/her realize they have choices in life! Even choices in their opinion. With kids and teens try using a magic wand and asking the miracle question or asking them questions like, “What is one thing you would change about your life?” Or your family? Your mom? Dad? Etc. This can also help kids who have experienced trauma get out of the mindset of glorifying the perpetrator or all or nothing thinking, especially common when the perpetrator was also in charge of care for the child and controlled the child’s basic needs. Helping these children make choices again is crucial in treatment.

Helping people hope is crucial for life!

Let’s plant some seeds of hope and see what grows!

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