I’ve grown up in a family where negativity was a hand-me-down that came from generations of shattered hopes and failed dreams. It’s hard to maintain anything resembling hope in the face of that; fortunately for me, I’ve had a few things that have helped me rise above the negativity that comes with being born into poverty and raised in an environment with people who see the glass as half-full, and I’ll be happy to share them with you.
Faith: My dad and my mom were both faithful in their own ways, and they taught me to believe in God. While they taught me to read the Bible and pray, I felt like when they asked for things from God, they didn’t really believe that they deserved them. The only thing that really seemed to be going for either of my parents were the moments that they felt like everything was going to be all right, in time. Even when they quashed that feeling with pessimism about life circumstances (and with the childhoods they had, I certainly couldn’t blame them for seeing the gloomy side of life), there was always that underlying current that things could only get better. I’ve clung to that current for dear life, and faith in God and believing that everything will work out in its own time has helped me to fight the gloom that threatens to crush me. Even now, though, when I ask God for something, I usually don’t feel like I deserve it, and I rarely get it. It’s been a slow process, but I’ve been working on retraining my brain to ask for something, and then have faith that my request will be fulfilled and let it go.
Self-Knowledge: The best counselor I ever had, Erin, taught me to look at the truth of a situation and see how it really applied to me. This has helped immensely when I’m inadvertently involved in a conflict that has nothing to do with me. I can step outside of it and realize that the person who is yelling isn’t yelling at me so much as he is yelling at his own situation. She also helped me to be better able to understand myself and others. Through her work, I’ve developed a better understanding of myself and others, and it has helped me considerably.
Acceptance: Another resource that helped a great deal was the philosopher Epictetus. I learned about him from a friend, and then I picked up his work and read it. Something that Epictetus said really stuck out when I read it. “Make the best of it,” he said. That sunk deep into me, and I began to really change my attitude about my life and living situation. My current living situation is less than ideal, but I can and have started to make the best of it, and I’ve discovered immense magic and beauty (not to mention blackberries, gorgeous wildflowers, and a beautiful rustic mural I’d never noticed before) in the area around me since I adopted “Make the best of it” as a way of life.
This doesn’t mean that I just stay stagnant, however–making the best of where I am now gives me the ability to enjoy what is here while striving for what I want and pushing to become what I want to me.