Overcoming Hopelessness


Perhaps the most difficult symptom of depression to overcome is hopelessness. When you have no hope for the future, you feel like your suffering will never end. This feeling of hopelessness deprives you of self-worth…which in turn denies you energy and motivation…which makes it difficult to take the necessary steps toward recovery. Basically, hopelessness creates a mindset that defeats your recovery even before it begins. A few common thoughts created by feelings of hopelessness might be:

  • “There is no point in trying…I will only fail anyway.”
  • “I am too tired; I will never finish…so why bother getting started.”
  • “Things will always be this way…they will never change.”
  • “I am a loser…I will never get anywhere.”
  • “Why bother…nobody cares anyway.”

…and so on.

We have already discussed earlier how thoughts and feelings become distorted when you are depressed. Now let’s talk about some things you can do to get over the hurdle of hopelessness. But first, take a minute and give yourself credit for reading this guide. The fact that you are reading it acknowledges that you want to feel better…the fact that you want to feel better acknowledges that you do have hope. Hold on to it and keep moving forward.

Set Some Goals

A big problem with depression is that it often makes life seem overwhelming. “There’s too much to do…I can’t possibly do it all.” Try taking out a piece of paper and breaking down that thought into more of a reality. Write down everything that you think needs to be done, and then separate that list into two categories: “Things I really want to do now” and “Things that can probably wait.” From the first list, choose one thing that you would most like to get done. Then, give yourself a realistic time frame to get it done…but realize that even this one task doesn’t have to be done all at once.

Example: Suppose you were expecting a visitor next week and you wanted to clean the house. It would be easy to think: “It’s too much work…I will never get it all done.” The reality is that you don’t have to get it all done now. Try starting with the goal of cleaning just one room; perhaps the smallest, or the room you spend the most time in. Now you might think: “I have to clean the      whole house…what good will it do if I only clean one room?” You will be able to answer that question yourself by cleaning that one room…and realizing that you have just taken a big step towards crossing something off of that “overwhelming” list.

It is important not to judge an accomplishment in terms of big and small. The truth is that any accomplishment is a success. By cleaning that one room you have broken that cycle of procrastination…and become less overwhelmed. Don’t be surprised if you suddenly have the energy and motivation to keep moving forward. Before you know it, you’ve probably cleaned several rooms. Suddenly, you realize that things aren’t as bad as you thought. The key is to set goals…realistic goals that you are likely to accomplish. Take one step at a time and continue to do what you can.

At some point, in the midst of accomplishing your goals, you will probably run into something that you really wanted to do…but were unable to do. Remember, this doesn’t make you a failure…it makes you human, just like everybody else. Nobody accomplishes everything they want to do all the time. Life isn’t that simple. Give yourself credit for trying…and keep going. Again, don’t be overwhelmed by thoughts about what you cannot do…just stay focused on those things that you can do.



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