To Escape a Hole of Despair, Grab the Lifeline of Gratitude

To Escape a Hole of Despair, Grab the Lifeline of Gratitude

Stuck in a hole of despair over lost dreams and lack of support, escape lies in affirmation plus action.

Dear Eve,

I am struggling with resistance. So much has been so difficult for me for so long—even what appeared to be a wonderful opportunity to live and work abroad has turned terribly sour. So much pain has been brought on by circumstances beyond my control that I cannot make myself believe that I can co-create anything desirable or meaningful in my life.

I find myself wanting to hang onto my unbelief and unhappiness because it is grief over lost dreams and fouled plans. (I now deeply understand the title of the book Don’t Take My Grief Away.) I can’t fathom any lessons, trust the Spirit, or be fearless and hopeful. I have learned it is possible to be so physically, emotionally, and spiritually broken that affirmations are exercises in futility, empty and without merit.

This challenges those around me who continue to manifest their dreams and desires. They try to force me to be positive, and because I cannot, they are dismissive. They are disappointed in my crisis of faith; I, who have supported others through crises in faith, have no support in my own. It makes me feel even more despairing because I’m not receiving much compassion. I teach compassion above all, so I feel like a failure.


Your message has been weighing heavy on my heart, because I know how hard it is when it seems like every way you turn, you hit a dead end. Like you’ve fallen into a hole of despair and can’t get out. I am so sorry you’ve been having such a hard time.

One of the things I coach all my clients on is that when we fall into the hole of despair or depression, or when circumstances push us into the hole, while it’s fine to visit, it’s rarely if ever a good idea to take up real estate there.

Down Below

A few years ago, when both my mom and my brother died, I too was in despair. I was still creative and involved, but my heart felt dead. I knew intellectually that I loved the people around me, but I could not feel it.

At one point I sought counsel with an intuitive, and he said something to this effect: “You are at a point where you can continue as you are and look back and remember when you were somebody, or you can make new choices and be somebody again. It is up to you. It is your choice.”

This hit me like a ton of bricks, because I suddenly realized that I had taken up the real estate in my hole of despair and grief.

I also realized that while I may not be able to make every dream come true or accomplish everything I want, I do have a choice about how I live. I realized I had no power to stop the people I loved from dying or certain circumstances from happening, but I did have the opportunity to switch my attention to what I was grateful for and build on that.

Pulling out the Tool Belt

I decided to pull out my personal growth tool belt, make a new choice, and give equal time to what had been good in the past decade. I was shocked as I listed the birth of seven books, a niece, a granddaughter, the creation of The Sacred Garden on Maui, moving to my dream home, a deepening of my relationship with my remaining family members, and more. The list of good was not only long but also deep in meaning.

When my mom got sick, she had ALS and lost the ability to use one body part after the next, starting with her tongue, then her legs, then her hands, until she was totally paralyzed. This experience taught me so much about gratitude. I had never thanked my tongue for all it did to support me, or my bowels for that matter. When you really get into the hole of despair, grab the line of gratitude for what you DO have, and climb your way out.

While I recognize that sometimes we need to process our grief and disappointment for a period of time, it is critical that we shift at some point into doing something different. It’s key to learn to disempower the events that happen and empower the way we respond to them. It is not what happens to us or what someone else says that makes us feel the way we do. It’s how we respond to what happens to us or to what people say or do that causes us to feel the way we do. It isn’t what other people think of us; it is what we think of ourselves that impacts our emotional state.

Don’t Think, Choose and Act

My invitation to you, should you desire, is not to “think positive” but choose positive and take positive action steps. Keep taking small baby steps in the direction you want to go. Rather than seeking the Divine or blessings, see the Divine and blessings all around you. Rather than simply thinking positively, choose to align your thoughts and choices with what you are trying to create.

I have found that affirmations are not magical thinking; they are reminders and they do not work without action. We need to take positive action steps in the direction we want to go.

Begin noticing what your self-talk is telling you. When you are reaffirming the negative in life and in yourself, stop, take a deep breath and look for a new way to respond to the negative things that happen. Look for what you are grateful for. Look for what is good in the circumstance, in others, and in yourself.

In my experience, if I am not acknowledging and appreciating the good aspects of myself or my life, it doesn’t matter if the people around me are telling me I am wonderful because I won’t believe them. It all starts with what we are telling ourselves. This is where a spiritual practice that reinforces your divine essence and assists you in accessing the Divine—through your inner wisdom, intuition, strength, creativity, and compassion—will help you tremendously.

When something happens to me or someone does something that I do not like, I meditate on the question, “How is this a blessing to me?” and I can ALWAYS find an answer.

As you look up from the hole of despair, I encourage you to be compassionate to yourself and grab onto the lifeline of gratitude to help pull yourself out.

With Aloha,


Extend your lifeline with these 14 gratitude affirmations.

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