How to Find Hope After 2020 (or any hard time really)

Updated: Jan 12

After the doozy of a year that we just had, many people have been telling me that they are scared to get their hopes up for 2021. It seems like so many of us are conditioned for disappointment and trauma at this point. Thus we worry that hopefulness will lead to a bigger let down if things don’t improve soon. This assumption is an understandable fear and a trauma response that is supposed to protect us from suffering. The logic behind it makes sense; however, it usually doesn’t work as well as we expect and ends preventing good things in the long run. We tend to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information that supports what we already believe. Also known as confirmation bias. For example, if you think you will have a bad year or a bad day, you could easily name things that went poorly by the end of it. However, there is never a day or year that is all bad or all good, and you could just as easily find evidence for things that went well. Here are three strategies I teach my clients to use to set themselves up for success.

Manifest Hope.

A better strategy is to hang on to hope and manifest goodness and success. We can do this by acting as if it is already true. Hope is more of an action than a belief. There is a saying about dressing for the job you want rather than the job you have, which is the same principle used in manifesting hope. When we let ourselves believe in good things happening, they are more likely to happen. Whether it be due to the magic of the universe or training your brain to recognize more goodness, or maybe both, it works! More information on this strategy can be found in my 2020 blog on One Word for the Year.

Mindfulness.

Another useful strategy in manifesting hope is practicing gratitude. The kind of gratefulness that works, in this case, is essentially using mindfulness in your daily life. It involves staying present in the moment in your current environment and finding appreciation for ordinary good things, like sunshine, music, or cuddling your pet. Enjoying the art of cooking or savoring the taste of your favorite food. A beautiful drive with the windows down or the contagious giggle of a toddler. Warm towels out of the dryer or your favorite cup of coffee on a chilly morning. When we practice appreciating the simple goodness in life, we start expecting and noticing it more and more.

Make a list of things in your control.

Lastly, we can get very frustrated and exhausted when we try to force things to go our way that are out of our control. Sometimes it can feel like we are playing a giant game of chess with the people in our lives, and we have to make just the right moves to get others to do what we want. But in reality, that is wasted energy because we only have control over ourselves. It is a huge relief to let go of trying to play both sides of the chessboard instead of focusing on our pieces. So make a list of things within your control, and when stress and anxiety start spiraling your nerves out of control, look back at your list and refocus.



Suffering was a significant part of 2020 for most people. While many good and beautiful things happened, most of us also felt the consequences of a lack of basic safety, security, and normalcy. It was a challenging year of growth, but one we can learn from if we allow ourselves to gain perspective and reset our intentions and priorities. Let’s collectively practice hope and make 2021 a fantastic year!

If you're struggling or ready for a change, seek help. Sharp Wellness offers individual, couples, family, and group therapy to help support you through these chaotic times. Contact us now.

Kristin Benton, MA LPC

Senior Therapist

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