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Finding the Light in Dark Times

Feeling hopeless? Lost in despair or hard times? Need to find some hope and a little light to cling to in the meantime? I've got you covered! Here are three gentle questions to help ease you out of it, and into finding your feet again.

Light streaming in through the branches of trees

It's the darkest time of the year, which can send a lot of us into our darkest stories. And let’s get real, lately, it hasn’t been the best of times for a whole lot of people for a whole lot of reasons, the news and the pandemic has sent a whole lot of us reeling.


Whatever the reason, if you're feeling lost or hopeless, know this: We all struggle with the dark times in life at some point. You're not alone. And if there's one thing I've learned through mine it's the importance of reaching for the light, even when it feels like there's not nearly enough.


It's when we're in the dark, that we need the light more than ever. We need practical way to make light in our own worlds and in ourselves.


But how do we do it? Some good news for you if you're looking for way to strike a match in the dark and find hope again. Science has been studying this very thing -- how to find the light in the dark, how to create the hope needed to get you to the other side.


One of the more interesting looks science has taken into the topic is a study conducted with patients who had their world shaken up by the catastrophic event of a stroke.


The study looked at how these people would deal with long term and intense rehabilitation. Faced with relearning to walk, talk and think again when just a moment before they were completely independent, and normally functioning adults, how would they proceed? How would they cultivate the hope needed to keep going?


And why did these researchers look at hope, at all? Because hope, when it’s grounded in something real, is an incredible motivator that can keep us resilient and moving forward even within our darkest stories.


Mere hoping, without ever taking actions is defeat, but a hope that can give us a way forward, that can get us up and moving? That's the light we're looking for at the end of a very dark tunnel.


So what did they find? Three main things come into play when we’re building our sense of hope, and those three things can help us to find the light in our dark times, too. Even better they can be made into some profound and gentle questions that can help you to baby-step your way into feeling better.


Side note: a link to the original study and a wonderful article by Matti Kontsas who developed the three main questions my work here is based on can be found at the end of the article.



1. What do I need to accept and what do I need to defy in this situation?



One of the most important findings of the study was the differences between acceptance and defiance, and when to use each.


Patients who simply accepted their new limitations, without ever trying to change them were often left feeling hopeless and defeated. Not good. But what happened to those patients who decided to defy their current state? Who refused to accept it at all?


They often believed they could get back "to normal" in no time at all, even when that was completely unrealistic which often led to them crashing and burning early on in their rehab. Change takes time. Healing takes time. Getting out of something dark, takes time. Being completely unrealistic doesn't change this. If anything it usually gets us back to square one: feeling hopeless, in no time.


You can't skip steps to try to get to the end faster. Instead, we have accept that we're in a different place than we had every anticipated being in. Maybe we're facing a divorce or separation. Maybe we're facing a health setback. Whatever it is, we have to accept that we are, where we are.


But we also can't simply surrender to our reality completely. We have to take up the challenge of making our way forward to something new. We may be sad, scared, angry, tired, even hopeless right now, but that's not where we want to stay forever. Instead, we have to be willing to find a new life for ourselves.


So now it's your turn. Here are some questions to gently consider:


  • What part of your situation, if you accepted it, would mean dooming yourself to unhappiness? Would mean defeat?

For instance, perhaps you're having the thought that being divorced means you'll never find love again. That you're damaged goods.


  • Now, how can you defy it?

How can you decide that going through that divorce isn't going to leave you feeling loveless or damaged?


  • What part of this situation are you trying to avoid or skip over? Is defying it helping or hurting?

Maybe it's tempting to try to get right back into dating without grieving your divorce, and trying to skip over that part. Or maybe it's tempting to pretend that you aren't in debt, even though dealing with the debt is necessary for moving forward.


  • How can you help yourself to accept it, so that you can move on?

Can you spend time talking to a counselor, a therapist, or a friend about the divorce? Can you find a financial advisor or talk to a friend about the debt?




2. Who do I want to be, as I go through this?


One of the worst aspects of going through something unexpected is the sudden loss of our identity. In the study, Independent adults after a stroke suddenly had to rely on others for even basic things. They lost their sense of being vibrant, capable, competent and independent adults.


Suddenly they were dependent, and left feeling weak, frustrated by having to relearn basic skills all over again. They weren't who they once were, and it was hard to know exactly when or if they would ever get back there again.


The same can happen to us. Divorce means, we’re suddenly just one, not part of a team or couple. Job loss can leave us feeling like we aren’t the useful, productive winners we once were. Depression can erase the emotional, social being we once were.


One of the keys to cultivating hope, the researchers found, was in finding ways to keep our identities intact through difficult times.


For instance, If socializing as a couple was important to you pre-divorce, finding ways to socialize as a single woman would be an important way of maintaining who you are, even through a separation, a divorce and into the future. Going out with friends, coffee dates, family time, etc. can be the key to feeling like you're still you, and in helping you to keep your hope up.


Being productive in new ways as you look for another job can help you maintain a sense of resiliency during a job loss. Finding ways to remind yourself of who you are even during a depression can be helpful to keep going.


So, ask yourself:


  • Who was I before this thing happened to me?

  • What did I like about that person?

  • How can I be that person now?


  • What things did I do before that I stopped doing because of this?

  • What hobbies or activities have I given up because I’ve felt down or sad? What would be helpful to get back to? Did I give up gardening, or walking? Did I give up a social group?


  • What meaningful activities, experiences and interactions can I create for myself to remind me of who I am?

  • Who in my life reminds me of who I really am?


  • What kind of woman do I want to be in the future, after I'm over this?

  • How can I practice being her now, even in little ways?




3. What will help me cope while I recover?


Last but not least, it was important, researcher’s found to help stroke patients cope during the in-between while they worked to recover their former mobility and lives. Coping, not curing. It takes time to create change. It takes time heal and create new situations for so many of us.


Having ways of dealing with our frustration, emotions and limitations in the meantime can help us take the time we need, without giving up. And we all need relief from suffering, as we heal. Coping can give us that.


Here are some questions to help you find ways to cope:


  • How can I find pockets of time to get away from this? How can I get momentary relief from what's going on?

Work can be respite for some. Friends and scheduling in fun away from real life, could be a way for others. Volunteering.


  • Instead of focusing on the end goal, what are the smaller goal posts that I can focus on to motivate me now?


  • What do I see as the rough patches ahead of me, and what plan do I have to help with them?


  • How can I focus on what's truly meaningful to me? What am I still grateful for? What do I still have in my life that's worthy?

Do I still have my health? Do I still have family and friends to spend time with?



  • Who do I need to reach out for help? Who can help me to cope?

Counselors, therapists, friends, family, loved ones, support groups. Who can I get on my team to help me?


Remember, be gentle and give yourself time as your work your way through these questions and into finding hope and healing. Change takes time.


And if you need more help than this article can provide, especially concerning mental health, don't be afraid to reach out for it. A counselor or therapist can be an incredible asset and help to you.


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In the meantime I hope that this article has helped, and if you happen to need someone to hold your hand, and help you work through the how to navigate your goals and dreams, I’m here to help!


A life coach can be a great cheerleader, accountability partner and can help you celebrate all those wins. Not to mention work through all those pesky fear-inducing thoughts.


If you’re interested in working with me you can schedule your FREE CONSULT here:



Or contact me at: info@desireesommer.com or use messenger here on Facebook or Instagram! I love helping people just like you!


And with that, I’m off! I will see you all next week in the meantime here are some other articles you might enjoy:



If you’d like to write in a question for coaching feel free to message me on Facebook or email me at info@desireesommer.com.


As always, make sure to hit that like button, and sign up for blog so you never miss another post about being happy, and pursuing your dreams!


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And as promised here are links to the orignal study and article:


The original study: Hope in Stroke Patients


And here is a link to the coach Matti Kontsas and his article I referenced and used for this post: "3 Research-Based Questions for Finding Hope in uncertainty"



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