“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”  – Desmond Tutu

 

I have been suffering from chronic pain in my right elbow for nearly three years now. I have tried many, many ways to eliminate the pain, reduce my suffering.  I have visited alternative practitioners and allopathic ones and spent thousands of dollars trying to heal myself.  You can read more about my journey here.

 

But even as I sunk ever lower, I held onto hope.  And I don’t take that lightly; I know that was a gift from the Universe.  Without hope, I don’t even like to think about where I would be right now, what dark thoughts I would be entertaining.

 

Instead, I had hope, that light in the darkness, as Desmond Tutu called it.  When I realized the extraordinary power of that gift, I pulled myself together and made the choice to embrace life again.

 

I opened my eyes and my heart and accepted the gift of hope for what it was – another chance, a new direction – I took it and started my climb back up to the light.  I switched gears, deciding to shift the focus of my coaching business and my yoga teaching to helping others with chronic pain and autoimmune issues.  I realized that I have a lot to offer others in my position, including my deep belief in the power of hope to change a life.

 

For those who are in pain –whether it is physical, emotional, or spiritual, I offer a few powerful tips for holding onto hope:

 

1.  Embrace a daily gratitude practice.  It’s part of my bedtime ritual and helps me get to sleep.  I truly believe that this practice is key for me.

 

Just take some quiet time to remember all the things for which you are thankful.  This may be hard at first, so start small.  Give thanks for a warm bed, a good cup of coffee, a smile from a stranger. If negative thoughts arise, just bring your thoughts gently back to something positive.

 

You can also choose to keep a gratitude journal.

 

2.  Find a goal and work steadily towards.  Again, it doesn’t matter how small or large the goal is.  Studies have shown that the happiest people have a goal and feel they are making progress towards it.

 

3.  Get support.  This can come from a friend or family member, but I know in my case that didn’t work very well for a couple of reasons. One, someone who loves you is very tied up in concern for you and worry and as a result can’t always offer objective help or even just listen without trying to give advice.  Two, however concerned and caring, they can also get tired of hearing you complain, just as you will get tired of complaining.

 

You might try support groups, either in person or online. I belong to some very helpful facebook support groups.  A bonus:  I have found that it doesn’t seem like complaining when you are sharing with others who really understand what you are experiencing.

 

Another alternative for support is a professional coach or therapist.

 

4. Focus on helping others.  Service is amazingly powerful magic.  You can’t help but feel better.

 

There are thousands of ways to be of service, and it doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment, either.  Find something that interests you and fits your schedule and lifestyle, and I guarantee, your light will shine a little brighter.

 

I wish you the best!  And if you know someone who might be helped by this post, please share it.