Never more than now have we needed the strength and courage to hold ‘hope’.
Hope that we can weather these strange and uncertain times, hope that our loved ones and ourselves can find the least difficult pathway through this period, and the hope that we can hold on to the things that are important in our lives.
For many that I have had the privilege of working alongside and knowing, hope is paramount, not only to surviving these strange CV19 times, but also in finding ways to travel through each and every day in the face of something that feels unpredictable, powerful and utterly uncertain and frightening – that is a life with an Eating Disorder.
I have heard more than one person observe that there are stark similarities between the life we are being asked to live right now, and the realities of living day by day in the presence of an eating disorder. To survive it, and to recover from it, hope is both crucial, and an imperative. When hope starts to fade, or feel distant, or worse still – impossible, the impact is painful, heart breaking and desperate. So staying hopeful, keeping hope alive and believing in hope are THE central tenets of recovery, and as such they are fundamental for clients, the team here at Orri and how we work together to achieve recovery.
A colleague I worked with some years ago, said to me that she had a ‘Hope’ fuelled daily barometer. She explained that it was the predictor of whether she should prepare for a storm, or grab her sunglasses. It’s interesting how many times I have run that thought through my head as I join clients for breakfast, or for group, or enter a one to one, or indeed as I sit with a family or the team as we reflect on our collective work. It interests me how subtle our reliance on hope can be, how it can sit there without us even noticing it, and yet how evident it is when it reduces or suddenly feels absent.
But what does it mean – to have hope, or to feel hope?
Some years ago I was surprised to learn (from Brene Brown), that hope is not an emotion, but a way of thinking or a cognitive process. Emotion plays its part, but hope is what a researcher by the name of C. R. Synder from the University of Kansas, called a “trilogy of goals, pathways, and agency”.
So hope happens when we set realistic goals, when we have a way of achieving those goals – including ways of managing the bumps along the way, and when we believe that we can do what it is we set out to.
So I wonder what does ‘hope’ means right now, living as we are and going through recovery or working alongside people in recovery?
To me, it means that we need to respect Hope.
That Hope doesn’t always just appear, that at times we have to be conscious and honest and open about our intentions and our goals – we need to set them, state them and do them.
That we need to find the courage to trust the process, when now, more than ever, that feels uncertain and unfamiliar on every level – but trust that we will find our internal resources when we need them, that they are present, perhaps unpractised at times, but that on some level we have what we need and that we can access it if we take the brave and courageous steps to look.
And finally, to me it means communication. We need to reach out. To make contact with those around us who can support us and protect us when we can’t do that for ourselves. To get help from people who can support us, to try new ways of connecting – be it by phone, zoom, email – or maybe a good old fashioned letter! But to know that you are not alone, that support is available and that change is possible at this time, as it is any anytime, when you reach out and ask.
So, here at Orri, we are Nurturing Hope, and we would love to hear from you if you have messages of hope to share. They can be anonymous or otherwise, and with your agreement we will share them on social media and our website as a way of declaring our commitment to Hope in these challenging times.
Let us know what you are hopeful for, in your recovery, for your future, or where you need help to hold the hope.
Go safely, and reach out if we can support you in holding your hope.