It’s coming up to 7 weeks on from my op and I am still feeling rough. I’ve noticed the concern I’ve been feeling ramping up over the past fortnight, and I became aware the worry was a growing creature inside, that started off like a little worm tunneling away, but was transforming into a growling bear all too quickly. Concern was turning into fear, and I knew it.
So liking to take action, I booked in to see my surgeons (sensible), eased myself very slowly back into work from home (sensible too) and then decided to reach out for one of Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra’s 21-Day meditations – Hope in Uncertain Times. Now I am only 7 days in and I am a big fan of these meditations (thank you Deepak and Oprah!), and initially I found hope returning for a short while – but when the pain kicked in again the fear would return. From experience I know I really reap the benefits if I follow the whole 21 days, but I wanted to discover meantime how I could help myself – how do we turn fear into hope?
Looking into this a little deeper, I discovered a paper by the psychologist Reece Coker. In this, Coker makes an intrinsic link between hope and fear. He explains that when we hope something will happen, we tend to fear that it won’t and in the same way, when we hope something won’t happen, we tend to fear that it will.
For me, this makes complete sense. I desperately want to feel better and this has led to worries creeping in that I never will. However, this fear can be turned back around to hope depending on the perspective you take.
So how do we do it? C.R. Snyder’s ‘Hope Theory’ explains that hope is based on our agency and motivation – the ability to plan and create pathways despite obstacles. This suggests that if, as in my case, we are scared about something not happening, we can think about what we can proactively do to make it happen and this might trigger hope within us.
Last weekend I was texting a lovely friend called Christine. We had met on the tube in London and got chatting about our mums and ended up exchanging details. I’d had to cancel on Christine just before my surgery so I was messaging her to give her an update. Christine was right back in touch – she told me she was a highly experienced expert in the world of health and before I knew it in the middle of her busy Sunday she was on the phone, giving me information, offering advice, being that voice of sanity and calm I really needed.
As I put the phone down my heart was bursting. This lovely lady who was very new in my life had not only given me her time, wisdom and kindness, but she had given me hope! “We will sort this,” she said, as she offered to join me at my consultant’s appointment this week.
My conversation with Christine heightened my motivation and I believed there were things I could do to help myself – her support was a real boost to my morale. I felt a shift in me; I felt the fear had gone. I could sense the hope emerging and as I went to bed that night Christine was at the top of my gratitude diary (alongside my Mum who had sat and talked to me as we cleaned the silver together – of course she did much more cleaning than me!). Regardless of how I felt physically, I felt so much better mentally, and that made the world of difference. I felt I could cope again.
“There was never a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.”
So this week’s blog is about hope – but it’s also about sharing hope whenever you can. Christine was realistic, she gave me clear information, and I felt I had someone by my side. I felt supported but also that there were real action points that might put me on the path to feeling better. I felt like the world was a good place.
So Hubbers, if you’re in need of some genuine hope, Chopra would suggest igniting it from within through meditation, Snyder would advise some agency and motivation, and I’d add to this go find yourself a Christine. We all know in my book nothing beats sharing kindness!