Feeling hopeless is a psychological state of absence of optimism and positive feelings in a person’s life. The present and future appears bleak and demoralized in subtle ways.
In trying times, we may develop a false perception that life is not worthy and we are inadequate to fight the odds. You are fully convinced that nothing better than what it is now can ever happen to you.
You are in the grip of sadness, helpless feelings, and despondency. But the reality is, everything in life can be turned to better things only if you try and learn to fight the setbacks with a positive frame of mind.
This article will help you unravel its true meaning, causes, actions you can take for tackling this issue, and several other aspects.
Feeling Hopeless – Meaning
Feeling hopeless is a state of mind in which you do not see any light at the end of the tunnel. You do not think that anything good can ever happen in your life.
Feeling hopeless means to feel despair and dejection somewhere deep inside you. It refers to a lonely existence where optimism is completely absent and you do not know how to revive yourself from such a dark pit.
You may have suffered a recent professional setback or got hurt in a relationship. Your life starts to suck the moment you try to think over these negative events in your life.
This situation can bring feelings of hopelessness and gloom. You may think you’re alone and there is no one to pull you back into normalcy.
But, the reality is different from your thoughts. Talking to your loved ones or any professional will not only help release your burden but also assure you that all is not lost. There is still some hope for things to turn around in your life.
Hopelessness happens to be a strong emotion that often results in the occurrence of a low mood among individuals. It might have an adverse effect on how a person develops the perception of himself, his circumstances, people around him, and the world at large.
When a person is feeling hopeless, it can have a massive influence on his behavior. He or she could start having a negative view of the future. The feeling of hopelessness can often result in an individual losing interest in people, activities, objects, or events.
If anyone has become hopeless, they might no longer value things that were once considered important.
Those things will now seem irrelevant with no importance in their life. One can easily associate this emotion with a lack of motivation along with feelings of helplessness, powerlessness, captivity, abandonment, oppression, and loneliness.
Hopelessness can also become a symptom of a mental illness like anxiety or depression, a symbol of substance abuse, gambling, alcohol, sex, food, or several other behavioral patterns.
The feelings of hopelessness might lead to suicidal thoughts if someone thinks that their situation has become severe without a chance for improvement.
What to do when you feel hopeless?
Whether you feel hopeless due to your ability to come out of debt or you feel hopeless about almost every aspect of life, it makes you feel awful.
There is nothing worse than feeling stuck with a sense of hopelessness, hence making life tough. Luckily, there are certain things you can do whenever you have a hopeless feeling to make things better in life, irrespective of how pathetic things might seem.
Let us check out the things you can do as and when you feel hopeless:
1. Your brain might be sending wrong information to you
During moments of hopelessness, your brain could tell that things around you are horrible and dreadful. It might try to convince you that there is no scope for things to become better and that you will not succeed in your ventures.
Now, just because you think like this does not mean that it is true. Your thoughts might be inaccurate and distorted.
When you feel hopeless, it gives rise to hopeless thoughts. It is quite easy to get stuck into negativity, hence making it difficult for you to see that things can indeed become better.
In this situation, it is important to stay open to the idea that whatever you are thinking is not right. There can be more hope in life than you imagine. Perhaps, if you start thinking on different lines, you can see rays of hope and possibility.
2. Argue the alternative
As and when you feel hopeless, you will likely think of all the reasons why nothing will ever improve in your life. You must take some time to argue the alternate option.
What is the proof that things could work out better than your expectation, or how things might become better?
Try to start thinking of the positives as that can open you up to further possibilities. While there is always a chance that things might not turn out the way you want, there is also a scope that they may not turn out to be as bad as you are expecting.
When you argue the opposite, it could just open up your brain to the notion that things may not be as gloomy as per your expectations. Hence, keeping an optimistic mindset will be key to handling the feeling of hopelessness better.
3. Think of the gains from feeling hopeless
Thinking of what benefits you get from feeling hopeless can sound a bit strange. Still, a thorough reflection of the issue might help you discover that feeling hopeless prevents you from disappointment.
If you do not expect any good to happen, you need to worry about getting disappointed even if things go awry.
Your feeling of hopelessness might also make you feel perfectly alright about not taking any further action. For instance, if you do not have any hope of paying off your debt, you may not even bother to increase your level of income.
Therefore, consider if you would be gaining anything by staying hopeless. You could find that somehow it protects you from bringing any change or doing things differently.
4. Consider the benefits you can attain from entertaining hope
You can look closely into the benefits you might attain if you can make yourself hopeful. Automatically, these will give rise to questions and make you think about how your life might change. You will also think about all those things, which you would be doing differently.
Once you have explored these options, you might proceed to act as if you were always hopeful of things turning out in your favor in life.
For instance, you could have a realization that if you built your life on hope, you will often go out and connect with new individuals or even take the initiative to apply for a new job.
You can try doing these things as and when you feel hopeless. It is a guarantee that they will work for you. Gradually, you will get rid of your phase of hopelessness and start leading your life with the utmost optimism.
There are occasions when you have to first change your behavior and the feelings would soon follow. Therefore, if you behave in a hopeful manner, you will start feeling hopeful as well. Thus, a sea change will come through in your attitude toward life.
5. Resort to problem-solving activities
Hopelessness can make you believe that things will not get better or you cannot become successful. Still, there is always something that you can do to solve a problem or change your approach toward an issue.
The best thing is to spend some time thinking of possible solutions to the problem. Try to brainstorm a few ideas and keep entertaining them in your mind. You need not require good ideas. Just make sure that you can think of a maximum number of strategies to address an issue.
If you do not manage to solve a problem, consider the ways through which you can change your feelings about the problem. Contemplate the fact that spending time with your loved ones can make you feel good. You can even analyze if taking a mental health break from the workplace might raise your hopes to some extent.
Think of these options and do what you feel suits the best for your situation. At least you can relax and feel good about the fact that there is always hope in your life if you are willing to strive for betterment.
6. Communicate with your family member or trusted friend
Whenever you struggle to recognize possible ways to resolve a problem or you are facing a tough time in getting out of a situation, get in touch with your friends and family members.
They can see things from a different perspective altogether. You can receive strategies from them, which might help you feel much better. It is not always easy to talk too just about anyone, about what you are going through in your life.
Hence, telling someone close to you could help you gain much more hope in your life. You will start feeling that all is not bad and there are plenty of good things that you can look forward to with hope and excitement.
7. Chalk out a plan
Once you have developed certain ideas, either by yourself or out of discussions with others, it is time to chalk out a plan. Make a proper decision on the first step you are going to take.
You must keep one thing in mind if, in case, a particular plan does not work out, you can always shift your focus to some other plan. Consider your plan as an experiment and your task is to carry out as many experiments as possible till you discover what works for you.
8. Take concrete action
Fact that there is a plan in place, it is necessary to take concrete action by implementing the plan. You need to understand that things will not change if you sit still without acting on your plan.
Instead, you will attain hope if you work on your plan and see how things can unfold in your life. After all, we all know that action speaks louder than words; hence your sole focus should be to act and make things favorable for yourself.
Why do I feel hopeless? (Causes)
The feeling of hopelessness is mainly linked with depression. It is one of the most formal signs of clinical depression or a mental health disorder.
There are a whole lot of possible causes of depression. If you continue to live with the condition, hopelessness can come up as a result.
Let us look into several other causes that result in you feeling hopeless in life –
1. Loss of job
Every individual requires a job to sustain their livelihood. It not only becomes a source of income but also a way to keep your mind engaged in some work and simultaneously carries out interactions with colleagues.
Once you are into a job, you make certain plans regarding investment, insurance, and undertaking various kinds of responsibilities in your life. The plans start working and you keep executing the plans to perfection.
In the midst of all these, if you happen to lose your job, either due to performance issues or because of your company’s inability to pay salaries, it comes as a big shock in your life. Everything comes to a standstill and you cannot fathom how to overcome this problem.
That’s when you feel lost and start suffering from severe depression. You do not see any ray of hope about how the situation can become better. All these give rise to hopelessness.
2. Recent breakup with your partner
When you suffer from a breakup, it can result in sadness and heartbreak. There are occasions when it can have serious consequences causing depression, which requires treatment.
While you were with your partner, you must have made some plans on the way forward in the relationship. Now that you are no longer together, whatever might be the reason behind it, you start feeling hopeless.
You often look back on the good times you had spent and wonder why the situation had to turn upside down and shatter your dreams.
It makes you feel as if you are good for nothing. Moreover, you can even decide not to settle down with anyone else, if you do not manage to get back to your partner and rekindle the lost relationship.
Grief appears in waves. As and when you think you’re going over to the other side, it hits you once again. Perhaps you have lost a friend or family member, or your love to death. It is also possible that you have divorced your husband or wife.
All of the above scenarios can give you a sense of hopelessness. Losing your near and dear ones makes you feel as if you have lost your purpose in existence. You feel as if your life no longer carries any meaning.
It becomes tough for you to come to terms with the grief. You start doubting yourself whether you will ever manage to overcome the situation and regain your happiness.
4. Denial of trauma
Traumatic experiences can be of different types. They include the likes of experiencing natural disasters, physical assault, sexual assault, seeing a shooting sequence, and many more. All these incidents can leave an everlasting negative impact on your mind.
The important thing in all these cases, which you should focus on doing, is to accept whatever has happened. You should tell yourself that no one has any control over natural disasters, while there is no need to blame yourself for the assaults and shooting sequence.
Unfortunately, you do not do the needful but start denying the fact that you are suffering from trauma. This turns out to be disastrous and makes you feel hopeless. You tend to think that you are good for nothing and there is no way through which things can get better.
5. Going bankrupt
It takes years of hard work for people to accumulate a sufficient amount of money and lead a good life. In the process of doing so, you also plan for your future and save some portion for contingencies that might crop up all of a sudden.
Now, if you lose a massive portion of your hard-earned money due to a lack of proper planning or some online fraud, it is bound to give you tremendous shock and make you feel hopeless. You will not know how to react and become speechless.
Your mind will struggle to function properly and hence, cannot cultivate positive thoughts. You will land up in such a stage of your life that would only make you wonder if you can ever manage to come out of it. The situation will make you postpone all your plans and programs for the future.
What to say to someone who feels hopeless?
There is nothing better than having a supportive individual to talk to when you are feeling down and hopeless. Talking to that person can significantly help ease your symptoms and make you feel better.
There are no words that can do magic and take away all your troubles in a whisker and it could be quite tough for anyone to know what you should tell someone who is suffering.
Still, sharing your thoughts with someone close to you can give you a different level of comfort and not make you feel lonely.
Asking simple things to the depressed person to check if they are okay and saying that they will always find them by their side through thick and thin can do a lot to regain their mental strength.
Let us take a look at some of the useful things to tell someone who is finding it tough to deal with a situation:
1. “Do you need some space?”
Even though it is necessary to support someone by staying by their side and making sure they are not feeling lonely, often spending time alone can be extremely helpful for them to introspect their feelings or to feel re-energized. Hence, offering someone the space they need is a very good idea.
After all, no matter how you give them input on what they should do, and how they can deal with the situation, until and unless the person concerned himself recognizes and chalks out a plan for himself, nothing can help him in this phase.
2. “This is not the end. You can overcome this and start afresh.”
Whenever one feels hopeless, it seems that you are standing in front of your future crossing your arms, thus blocking the door for something better to come into your life. That’s exactly how you feel under these circumstances.
A person suffering from hopelessness will not believe it the first time they hear it but if you insist on your statement and speak with authority, he will eventually believe that he can come out of the situation.
3. “I love you”
We all know how terrifying it can be for people when they are feeling lonely, helpless, and dejected. You do not always need any answer to their issues as there is rarely any perfect solution available.
Therefore, a simple ‘I love you can do a world of good to raise their spirits. This statement is good enough to make them feel that you are supporting them in their tough times and both of you together can see this phase through with ease.
4. “No need to rush, take your time.”
For a person who is under deep depression and feeling hopeless, even carrying out an easy task can seem to be an overwhelming affair.
Even doing routine activities like taking a bath, cooking food, and having it can feel like a huge burden on your shoulders. It is especially true at the start of each day.
As the day progresses and reaches its fag end, people suffering from depression and hopelessness tend to feel good.
It clearly shows that allowing them time to do their everyday chores can be a good plan. Thus, if you are someone who is staying with them and know what they are going through, tell them that there is no need to rush. They can have their own sweet time.
5. “You need not do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable”
When you are mentally not feeling well, having no hope to turn things around in your life, feeling the pressure of doing something can further upset your mood. You might feel obliged to look cheerful in front of others, but it can be extremely difficult.
In these situations, you can make them feel that they could easily avoid attending some events or going to a few places for the time being. It can give them a sense of great relief. Thus, they could relax and focus on improving their health.
6. “Everything is going to be alright.”
This statement coming from someone whose life is going fine, seems quite simple, isn’t it? It is not so for the one who is dealing with their thoughts of hopelessness. Still, hearing these words during tough times can freshen up their mood.
Whenever anyone becomes upset or has frustration due to some event, they tend to jump to the worst thing that might happen to them.
Calming them down in a gentle manner and reminding them of the kind of small steps they can take to improve their condition can be of great help.
7. “I don’t think you have any problem.”
Our society at large continues to treat any mental health issue as a stigma. Due to this reason, all those who suffer from this problem start feeling marginalized for having this issue. Now, feeling lonely and different from others will only manage to make things worse.
Thus, try to remind your loved one that even though their illness is genuine, it can get cured with proper treatment and medication.
Moreover, just because they have this problem does not mean that he or she is less capable than others in their surroundings.
8. “You are a very good individual.”
It is quite common for people suffering from depression to feel guilty. This can turn out to be a trigger and also a symptom.
Very often, people feel as if they are bad as they were very sick to go to the office or attend a social event.
The reality is different. You will not judge a person for missing an event because of a physical illness.
Then why would you tag someone as a bad person for having a mental problem? As a well-wisher, you should harp on the fact that the sufferer is a very good individual and there is nothing wrong with him.
How to Cope with Feeling Hopeless?
It is not always possible to avoid certain situations that can make you feel hopeless. They include job loss, the death of a loved one, and stress to tackle financial obligations. Despite all these, we can learn how to control our reactions to stressors.
Following are some of the useful ways, which can help you deal with hopelessness when you face challenges.
1. Frame your thoughts differently
People always have the habit of thinking of the worst-case scenario, whenever they feel hopeless. This tendency can make you overestimate and develop a belief that a difficult situation is permanent.
Now, one of the best ways to deal with it is to frame your thoughts differently. In case you find it difficult, try out some of the following ways:
- Accept that while you cannot undo your experience, still the intense pain, grief, or shame, which often results in hopelessness, does become less over time. Learning the art of becoming gentle with you even under intense situations can make a big difference.
- Understand that no matter how devastating the change or loss was, the future contains numerous soft, kind, and joyous moments, which you cannot see right now.
- Identify and focus on the positive aspects of life but they do not mean that you should ignore what you have gone through. It only means you do not need to suffer acutely.
2. Implement positive strategies for coping up with situations of hopelessness
Hopelessness can make you feel numb. It can tempt you to distract yourself or find some other ways through which you can avoid the feelings. You must acknowledge the fact that this sort of impulse, even though it is quite understandable, will not make you feel better.
Ideally, you should find and implement coping strategies that can help you resolve any underlying feelings while inculcating healthy ways to cope with hopeless situations.
- You should try out creative ways of expressing your feelings. They include drawing, singing, journaling, etc.
- Try to move your body in different ways to feel good.
- Practice the habit of taking care of you and discussing positive things with others. You must learn the art of gratitude for the kinds you have in your life.
- Look to treat yourself with compassion, even if you are struggling to stay positive.
3. Lean toward your support system
It is quite natural for anyone to require support during a tough phase. When you are feeling hopeless, it can be quite hard to accept any kind of assistance or think that any kind of external help will make a difference.
Whenever you are having a tough time, do the following things –
- Try to portray your thoughts and feelings to people who matter a lot in your life.
- Hiding from others will only complicate matters further and deprive you of the support which you would have got otherwise.
- All those who genuinely care for you will always stay by your side, offering their support and guidance during the tough times of life.
- Moreover, when you allow them to give support, you can even inspire them to reach out for support from you and others, when they require the same.
When to reach out for help during feelings of hopelessness?
If you have recently experienced any significant life change or loss, you can experience both temporary and permanent feelings of hopelessness.
It comes as a great help when you let yourself have sufficient time to feel sad, practice the art of self-compassion and care, and get the support you require.
There are occasions when a sense of hopelessness can stay longer, hence making it quite unhealthy. You might still experience feelings, memories, or all other associations from whatever had initially led to the feelings of hopelessness.
Following are some of the warning signs you should note, which should be sufficient enough for you to seek help from others:
- Intense emotions of hopelessness that last more than two weeks.
- You cannot fathom any apparent trigger or cause for all your hopeless feelings.
- A lack of motivation, feeling drained out, or when you no longer enjoy doing things, which used to bring joy in your life.
- Oscillating between the feelings of depression or hopelessness and feeling ecstatic or euphoric.
- Sudden drastic changes in eating habits, sleep patterns, or hygiene.
- When you feel the urge to either injure yourself or others.
- Making use of language portraying a defeated mindset like, “Life does not matter” or “What is the use of doing this?”
- Entertaining or even passing suicidal thoughts from time to time.
- Dealing with suicidal or reckless behavior, including increased usage of a drug or engaging in risky sexual acts with different partners.
Have you noticed any of these modifications either in yourself or in any of your loved ones? It is probably the ideal time to seek the assistance of an expert mental health professional
Treatment for Hopeless Feelings
Clinical depression that leads to hopelessness is a major problem among individuals, which requires professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. No individual should treat the menace of depression by themselves.
Approaching a mental health professional can help you learn how to manage and, in many cases, relieves you from symptoms of depression.
He or she can make use of the following tools to stop feeling hopeless –
1. Cognitive behavioral therapy
CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the most effective type of therapy that helps to treat depression. T
This approach helps you to become fully aware of your distorted thinking patterns and behaviors which depression triggers time and again.
It will enable you to recognize all these negative thoughts and give them the luxury of re-programming them.
All your irrational thoughts and behaviors will give way to positivity and practical thoughts. Your positive emotions will not allow your mind to generate adverse feelings of hopelessness.
Taking antidepressants can fight depression by assisting people to rebalance one’s brain chemistry. They usually work best when combined with therapy, rather than using them as the only form of treatment.
Some of the medicines that help treat depression include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Once you show a physician, he or she can even prescribe some other medicines based on your symptoms and medical advice.
3. Making changes to your lifestyle
Even though professional treatment is a major part of treating depression, there are other ways which can help improve your mood and quality of life.
Some of the lifestyle changes include doing regular exercises, expressing your feelings clearly, taking charge of your situation, avoiding the use of drugs and alcohol along with enrolment in support groups.
Summing Up from ‘ThePleasantMind’
Depression from things not working out in your favor, job loss, or the death of a loved one can result in hopelessness but it is evident from the article that these events do not mean the end of the world.
You can always find hope in your life and get the necessary inspiration, only if you express your feelings to the right set of individuals. There is no shame in feeling dejected but never feel that life cannot become better in the future.
A Psychologist with a master's degree in Psychology, a former school psychologist, and a teacher by profession Chandrani loves to live life simply and happily. She is an avid reader and a keen observer. Writing has always been a passion for her, since her school days. It helps to de-stress and keeps her mentally agile. Pursuing a career in writing was a chance occurrence when she started to pen down her thoughts and experiences for a few childcare and parenting websites. Her lovable niche includes mental health, parenting, childcare, and self-improvement. She is here to share her thoughts and experiences and enrich the lives of few if not many.