Sometimes asking yourself a simple question can change everything. Time and time again, I have found one question in particular that has that effect. What belief brings you hope?
It's a question I first posed to a coaching client about 5 years ago. She was struggling to believe in herself and was plagued with stories of doubt and not being good enough. She was held back by limiting beliefs whose pull was greater than truth - that she is a brilliant, capable, strong woman who has a lot of value to offer the world.
Such a cycle of disbelief in oneself is common, especially among women. But it's not exclusively a female problem. I have worked with men who have held onto limiting beliefs as though their lives depended on them as well. Ironically, limiting beliefs are comforting because they are familiar, even though they hurt us. What's comfortable isn't always what's most healthful.
We were walking outside when this client shared the belief that gives her hope. "The universe always has an answer."
As she shared this belief I couldn't help but notice a complete change in her demeanor. Her voice became stronger, she stood up taller, and she exuded confidence and positive energy.
So I asked, "How does that belief make you feel?"
"It feels really good. I feel strong and at peace. It takes the pressure off of me and I feel supported." She replied with her newfound energy and confidence.
"What if you anchored in that belief anytime you felt doubt or insecurity creep in?" I asked.
"I think I'd like that."
So that's what she experimented with next, reconnecting with the belief that gave her hope when her inner critic started to harshly admonish her. With those efforts she shifted from feeling doubt in herself overall to experiencing confidence in her competence. And as a result, she was able to get unstuck and manifested what she deeply wanted.
Hope is one of four capacities researchers have linked to positive psychological capital. As I wrote in my Master's thesis, "Positive psychological capital focuses on the positive abilities of an individual rather than on their inadequacies. Researchers have found that individuals who possess positive psychological capital perform at higher levels by demonstrating self-efficacy in the face of adversity."
Hope is defined as "an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one's life or the world at large."
Hope is the opposite of despair. Cultivating hope lays the pathways for claiming one's agency. Through the presence of hope, we own our abilities to affect our lives. Hope is one way we exercise our power within.
Henry David Theraou once said, "I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor...To affect the quality of days is the highest of arts."
We live in a moment, where exercising our abilities to positively influence the quality of our days is imperative to cultivating the resilience to navigate life's challenges and setbacks with ease and grace. There are countless stressors we encounter on a daily basis that triggers the release of cortisol, instill fear and cause us to go into a patterned threat response.
If we aren't careful, we may operate from a baseline of fear, despair, and hopelessness. It is much harder to rise to meet the challenges we continue to face when we operate from such a place.
Luckily, we can begin to shift out of those feelings by reflecting on what beliefs bring us hope. Then taking intentional steps to do things that cultivate feelings of hope on a day-to-day basis.
Last fall, we explored these ideas in a Journal Jam. When was the last time you had a conversation with someone about what brings them hope? It's a very inspiring and uplifting discussion to have. I was so moved by the discussion, I asked participants to share the belief that brings them hope in the chat. Here's some of what them said:
"In this present moment I am safe and I have people in my life who love me." "That my well being isn't dependent on anyone outside of me." “I believe I can find meaning in a wide range of situations and contexts.” "The deepest belief for me: I am not alone. I am safe. I have people who love me." "Only earth and sky last forever." "I believe It always turns out better than I can imagine, trust that." "Things usually work out, whether they work they way I'd hoped or not. Sometimes they work out better that way."
As I read each of their beliefs, I experienced a tingle of joy, a jolt of energy, uplifting inspiration and a strong sense of connection. I didn't know it at the time, but it was just what I needed!
Just like my coaching client 5 years ago, we all need nudges to reconnect with beliefs that bring us hope. We all benefit from being in community with others where we are able to discuss matters of the heart openly and honestly. When we see and hear each other in such moments, we begin to recognize that we aren't that different after all.
What belief brings you hope?
Want to connect with others, dedicate time to write in your journal and feed your soul? Join us for the next Journal Jam on February 3rd. Registration and more information is available online here.