Finding hope amidst the pandemicby Sonali Gupta
All of us are suspended in this limbo, which seems never-ending.” This is a sentiment so many of my clients, friends and even I have experienced. We are living in this period where collectively, we feel lost, hopeless and even fatigued.
When we are in midst of a limbo of any kind, it provokes a certain restlessness and anxiety. Given this state, I have consciously wondered what it means to be hopeful again.
When one is surrounded by so much uncertainty, it can be hard to find hope, a sense of joy or even belief in what life has to offer. Yet, it’s only when we can imagine these possibilities that we can navigate difficult times.
When I started working as a therapist, I began to understand that while clients struggled with challenges, a process that beautifully worked was asking them about their ‘strength experiences’. Even in the midst of a crisis, whether it was little children or adults, all of them had experiences to share, whether they managed to surpass or head-on deal with an overwhelming situation.
They shared their stories of resilience and in the same breath would tell me how painful and devastating some of those experiences were. I have consciously reminded myself that even when helplessness and sadness consume me, I’m capable of thinking about hope. Two opposing feelings can co-exist. You can feel despair and yet know that hope is around the corner.
Hope allows us to stay with uncertainty and still think about the future, it’s a feeling that keeps us going. People who allow themselves to feel hope often continue to develop a new lens even when they are grappling with a situation. So many of my clients have shown me this is possible. They have embodied hope in ways that’s inspiring and taught me so much.
As you continue to read the article, possibly begin by asking yourself: “How have you found hope amidst the pandemic?” Maybe take a notebook and write down your story, for all you know openly acknowledging it would deepen an internal process and make you more aware. Here are some ways that I have invited hope again in my life and some of my family members and clients have been generous in sharing their learnings too.
Every time my father would be hospitalized, I remember I would find solace in the company of books. They were soothing for me and allowed me to think beyond the current reality. Last few months, I have gone back to studying and signed up for a course on advanced couples therapy work, which I’m enjoying deeply. The process of turning inward and reading about other therapist’s success with couple clients give me almost a renewed sense of meaning and purpose. On other days, writing a weekly column on a topic like this fills me with hope and I feel very centered.
A client tells me: “Just the idea of being able to go to the beach has been my biggest ray of sunshine. The fear of the future seems to be replaced with enjoying the moment instead.” I felt there was something so beautiful about the choice of words here, that it just brought a smile. It made me wonder that possibly all of us who are sharing pictures of the beautiful sky in the city are also trying to look at nature and find some soothing.
My mother tells me that she has taken to gardening, feeding the birds, and spends long periods of time admiring the flowers and plants. Maybe nature does a fascinating job of teaching us how chaos, surrender and healing are all part of a larger pattern. I’m reminded of a quote that’s attributed to Rainer Maria Rilke, “If you stay close to nature, it’s simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.”
Perhaps you have your own stories. If yes, I would love to hear those. For all you know they may give someone a new perspective. Possibly the last few days have been a constant reminder that we need to reimagine what hope and meaning looks for us collectively as a society.