When You Feel Hopeless

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well (Julian of Norwich).”

We were out on our boat this weekend surrounded by rain storms. It was dark and furious. We didn’t know whether we should make a run for the marina or wait it out. We decided to wait it out and wade to shore on the little uninhabited island if the lightning got bad. The storm was headed right for us, but it never made it to us. It came from the east and split to the north and south of us heading west. We had no more than a few drops of rain and got front row seats to a beautiful storm.

You see, we simply can’t predict how things are going to be. We imagine our future, but it is always only imagined. We cannot possibly know how something will unfold, even when the storm looks like it is headed straight for us. We were certain that we were going to get the full fury of the storm but what seemed certain to us never came to pass.

Watching the storm, I thought of all the folks who are worried about their future, who see dark clouds bearing down upon them, who are living in the feeling of an imagined future. Living the fear again and again. Despairing. Hopeless. My heart breaks. I understand.

It has been a devastating, and, for many, frightening time here in the USA these past couple of weeks, regardless of which side of the political divide one finds oneself. Fear, ridicule, desperation, confusion, hopelessness, and divisiveness have sunk into our very soul, it seems. Many are afraid of what the future may bring. It’s tempting to believe that the brewing storm will consume us.

I’m reminded of the Chinese parable about a farmer and his son. This is how I remember the story: The farmer owned a beautiful stallion who helped earn money for the family. One day, the stallion ran away. The villagers said, “What terrible luck to lose your prized horse!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.” After a time, the stallion returned with a herd of mares. The villagers said, “What wonderful luck to have all those mares!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.” The farmer’s son began to train the mares. He was thrown from one of them and broke his leg. The villagers cried, “What terrible luck!” The farmer said, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.” A few days later, soldiers came through town recruiting all the able-bodied boys for war. The farmer’s boy was not recruited because of his broken leg. The villagers exclaimed, “What great luck! Your boy is spared!” To which the farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not, we’ll see.”

Maybe so. Maybe not. We’ll see.

I began this blog with words from Julian of Norwich, a Christian mystic. “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” She wrote these words after losing almost everyone she loved to plague and almost dying herself. She was quite young, yet she discovered the truth of her words. She knew that many storms never reach us, and even when they do, we are resilient and resourceful.

We are resilient and resourceful. “We are created for the reality of this moment (Jamie Smart).”

To those of you who are frightened, discouraged, hopeless, hurt, and angry, I see you. I love you. I leave you with these words from John Lennon, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”


If this blog post resonates with you or if you’d like to explore a new perspective on overcoming hopelessness, I’m opening up a couple of times on my calendar this week for the first two people who respond, at no cost to you. Contact Me

Dealing with Suicidal Thoughts or Low Feelings

A couple of big names were in the news this past week. Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain committed suicide days apart. People are talking about it. I began wondering about the other 850+ non-famous people who’ve committed suicide this week alone. I’d like to know their names. I’d like to remember them, too.

The CDC says that the suicide rate in the US has increased more than 25% since 1999. 1999 was my darkest year. Suicide had become a viable option for me. In February of 2000, I went to the brink and ended up in the ER, then intensive care. I know what it’s like to feel hopeless. I know what it’s like to believe that there is no way out of the despair. I know what it’s like to be consumed by shame and fear. If only I had known that the desperate thoughts and feelings would pass. If only I had known that I was resilient and whole despite how it all seemed. If only Kate, Anthony, and countless other people had known.

This is why I do the work I do. I want people to know. I want them to know that desperate thoughts and feelings pass. I want them to know that they are not those thoughts and feelings. I want them to know their own wellbeing and resilience.

You see, no matter how it may seem at this very moment, you are whole. You have innate wellbeing and resiliency. It may be that no one has ever told you. It may be that you’ve been told all your life that you are broken. It may be that you’ve come to believe it. I believed it. That belief was devastating. No matter how it looks to you at this moment, you are not broken; you only believe that you are. That belief is causing you tremendous suffering. Your essence cannot be broken. If you listen deeply, you may feel the truth of this, if only for a nanosecond. It’s no less true if you can’t.

Listen, it’s OK if you don’t believe it. I’ll believe it for you until you can. I believe it with all my heart. I believe in you. I see your light. I see your wholeness. If you can’t, it’s OK. It makes it no less true. You’ve only forgotten. You could remember at any moment. These desperate thoughts and feelings will pass. They will. That’s what thoughts and feelings do. They are not you. They are not permanent.

When we are in the throes of the devasting thoughts and emotions, they feel utterly and overwhelmingly real. They are supposed to feel real, that’s how this human system works. I get it. I understand. I’ve been there. All the way down. Sometimes it’s at the very bottom that we get a taste of who we really are, of our divinity. Over the Rhine has a line in their song, Nobody Number One, that I love: “I’m so far down, I’m beginning to breathe”. That’s what happened to me. I went all the way down and it was there that I found I could breathe. It was there that I touched my essence.

Sydney Banks, a philosopher and writer, said: “If the only thing people learned was not to be afraid of their experience, that alone would change the world.” I believe it. I was so afraid of feeling down. I was so afraid of feeling shame. I was so afraid of feeling alone. I was so afraid of feeling afraid. I did not know that I could have touched it all more lightly. I did not know that I could have taken them less seriously and personally. I did not know that they were not me. I did not know that they would pass. Despite not knowing, they passed anyway but I kept them alive for much longer than necessary and I suffered greatly as a result. Now I know that thoughts, feelings, and circumstances pass. Now I know that I don’t have to take them so very personally and seriously. Now I know that I can find my way through. This is possible for you, too. It is.

If you are feeling suicidal:

  1. Reach out for support. I’d be happy to have a conversation with you or you could call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255
  2.  Remind yourself, whether or not you can feel it, that you are whole. You are resilient. You are made of star-stuff. You are divinity. If you can't remind yourself, find someone who can.
  3. Remember that thoughts and feelings want to move through you. That’s what they do. They are not permanent. They are not you. Imagine watching them pass without attaching to them. They cannot hurt you. You could think of them as a dream that you will wake up from or a fantastically immersive movie that will end.
  4. Instead of adding to the desperate thoughts and feelings with more thought and analysis, you could bring your attention back into the present moment. Feel your body in your chair. Feel how that chair supports you. Notice your breath, the inhale, the exhale. You are created for this present moment, not a future or past moment. Bring your attention back to this very moment. 
  5. You could notice that even in the midst of the despair, a puppy, an unexpected smile from a stranger, the wind caressing your skin can still make you smile at times. That could be a reminder to you that thoughts and feelings come and go. Notice it or you may miss it.
  6. Remind yourself that countless people have found their way through. You can, too. I could never have imagined 20 years ago how good life could be for me and how much like a distant and fading dream those desperate years feel to me now. Don’t give up. You are resilient. There is a way through this.
  7. Reach out for support. Yes, some things need to be said twice. Humans are relational beings. If no one around you is supportive then call the hotline or contact me. There are those who want to help.

As you wake up to who you truly are, you will find your way. Get support from someone who knows you have innate well-being and who will point you back to your essence, to your own light. That's where you will find your resilience, clarity, and peace. There is hope. There is hope.

This song brings tears to my eyes because I can breathe again and I wasn't sure that was going to be possible 20 years ago. There is hope.

I always welcome and appreciate your comments. You can find the comment box below.


Schedule a Taster Session to learn more about coaching and how you could benefit. Carla's commitment is to help her clients overcome self-doubt and anxiety and return to confidence and peace in their everyday lives.

Can I Change Someone I Love?

I had a conversation with friends this weekend that had us all very thoughtful. We were talking about the people in our lives who struggle with addictions of one sort or another. Every one of us in that conversation has had someone close to us caught in desperate addiction. It’s difficult seeing someone we love throwing away their lives, or so it seems. We wondered if it’s possible to change someone we love and what to do if we can’t.

I’ve been on both sides of the addiction issue. My beautiful mother was an alcoholic and I went to the mat with alcohol myself during my break-down break-through. I almost didn’t survive it and I know people who haven’t. It can be excruciatingly painful to watch someone we love in the throes of it all. It can be terrifying not knowing if they will make it through to the other side. We can become desperate to change them just as I was desperate to change my mother.

As my friends and I were talking, I told them that I was surprised to find that the only thing I truly regret since my mother’s death, is that I tried to change her. If I could have one conversation with my mother today, it would be to apologize for that. It would be to tell her how differently I see it all now. How differently I see her now.

You see, I don’t believe it’s possible to change another person. I believe that change comes from within. Always. I believe that when we attempt to change another, we set ourselves up for even more suffering and I don’t believe it’s particularly helpful to the other person.

In my desperation to change my mother, I had all kinds of expectations that I put on myself and on her. I felt tremendous angst and pressure, from myself, to help her. She felt pressure to change for me and other family members, but the change she attempted was not from within her so it didn’t last. Change happens through insight, not from outside pressure or expectations.

I can remember the church trying to change me. I remember feeling tremendous pressure and then shame when I couldn’t change or sustain the change they wanted. I remember the few close friends near me during my break-down break-through who were pressuring me, innocently, to change. I couldn’t do it… until I could, and that came through insight, not from pressure. The shame I felt was partly why I couldn’t change. I couldn’t see my innate wellbeing. That’s no one’s fault but my own but it’s part of what was going on for me at the time. I know mama felt shame.

You see, when we are consumed by shame, we forget that we have innate wellbeing. We forget that we are not broken. We forget our resilience. We lose touch with ourselves and that is devastating. When that happens, some of us go down the path of addiction. Some of us go down the path of anger and manipulation. Some of us go down the path of depression and anxiety. Some of us go down the path of self-righteousness. There are many paths.

So, what can we do if someone won’t change? I believe that all we can do is love them. Love them without expectation. Love them without judgment. Love them without the demand that they change. Love them from your place of wellbeing, knowing that they, too, have wellbeing, even if you or they can’t see it right now.

That does not mean that you stay in harm’s way. That does not mean that you don’t have boundaries. That does not mean that you don’t take care of yourself. That does not mean that you don’t offer support if that seems the thing to do. That’s not to say that if someone commits a crime we just let them go on their merry way. It may mean we lock them up for everyone’s safety but what if instead of seeing them as criminal, we see them as whole and forgetting their wholeness? How might we treat them differently? How might we support them? What if we saw the addict as whole? 

I believe that the most helpful thing we can do for another is to trust them on their path, even if their path looks destructive to us. I had two people during my darkest times who absolutely trusted me and loved me despite how it all appeared. They reflected back to me my innate wellbeing and wholeness. I don’t know if anyone did that for mama. It made a difference.

What if we did that for one another? What if we reflected back to those around us who are in desperate straits, pure love and acceptance? What if we reflected back to them their wellbeing and resilience? Look, it’s no one’s responsibility to save or change another. It’s our responsibility to change ourselves and we can do that when we remember our innate wellbeing. And by remembering that those we love have innate wellbeing, too, then we can offer support and love without expectation and demands.

Everyone is on their own personal journey. We cannot understand what another is going through. We cannot possibly know what’s best for them. 

We cannot possibly know what's best for them.

Yes, I said that twice and it may need to be said repeatedly. All we can do is love them.

I know firsthand that what I’m saying could sound simplistic and naïve. It is simple but it’s not necessarily easy, especially when we aren’t in touch with our own wellbeing. Just do the best you can. Open with love and try to stay with love. You know when you’re coming from love and when you’re not. Love is not controlling, manipulative, anxious, coercive, self-righteous, or judgmental.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." I Corinthians 13:4-8

Schedule a Taster Session to learn more about coaching and how you could benefit. Carla's commitment is to help her clients move from anxiety and self-doubt to confidence and inspiration in their everyday lives.