Hope is engrained in our very nature. Hope is what enables us to endure the agonies and ecstasies of our lifelong pursuit of joy. When hope lessons, our souls suffer. We can help those around us who are suffering from a lack of hope in their lives. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Help them focus on areas of their life that are more positive. When one area of life is lost or suffering, other areas can play an important role in keeping one motivated and energized. Engage them in supportive and encouraging conversations about other areas of their life – their hobbies, interests, skills, and relationships with others. Look for opportunities to help them stay connected and build up the more positive areas of their life.
  2. The road to back to joy is filled with many ups and downs, the accompanying emotions of hope and disappointment can feel like a roller coaster ride. First the hope of success followed by the let down when it doesn’t work out. Trying to remain emotionally stable and spiritually focused through these ups and downs can be very difficult. It is important for them to have an encourager, a sounding board, someone to walk with them to help regain their perspective as needed and keep them encouraged. Look for opportunities to be that person.
  3. Give constant positive encouragement. Remind them of their strengths and their important contributions to their team, friends, family, and loved ones. Remind them that they are empowered, supported, and connected. Help them see the goodness of the world and how their spirit will endure through these troubling times.
  4. People who have lost hope all have a measure of shame and embarrassment. Be careful not to rub salt in an already painful wound. Think before you speak and check your comments to be sure they are not laden with guilt or humiliation. Even though your motive may be to prompt ideas for growth, insensitive advice often adds pain. And, as a result, as a way of protection, they will begin to share less with you. Instead, keep the door of communication open. This current struggle in their life may simply be part of a plan to redirect them or make them stronger. It is hard to see others suffer through difficult times. Naturally, you want to do all you can to get them through it as quickly as possible. But be patient with them and their life’s path to joy.
  5. Don’t force your personal expectations on them. Each person deals with life’s trials in their own way, depending on their backgrounds, their emotional foundation, spiritual perspective, physical health and abilities, and other stressors occurring in their life at the time of the struggle. Be very careful not to expect them to respond the way you would, or did, in a similar situation. Rather, meet them where they are and walk with them on their path.
  6. Stay connected to them. Many people as a way to protect themselves from the pain of dealing with someone struggling in life, begin to detach themselves from their relationship with the person struggling. This detachment can come in different forms – less frequent phone calls, more superficial conversations, not including them in social gatherings, not utilizing their abilities in the community. This emotional distancing by friends adds to the struggling persons feelings of rejection and abandonment. Be different from the others in their life. Look for opportunities to reaffirm your connection and strengthen your bond. Both of you will benefit.

And finally, and probably most importantly, we can confirm with the person struggling with hope, that little whisper in their ear. That blip on their mental radar screen that they already detect. That they believe is hope. Hope for joy. Hope for the satisfaction of their deepest needs, values, longings, and ideals. That hope, though now distant, is coming closer every day.