Hope, A Different Lens

As a young child, I experienced many years of chronic illness. This experience led to many months home from school, hospitalizations, and setbacks; but also led me to resilience and hope. It took me 15 years of hope-filled searching before I discovered herbal medicine and began my path of healing. I would never trade this childhood for another, as it created the foundation for how I experience the world and live today. Many people experience hope or a lack of it, today we will explore the best ways to cultivate it.

Hope is described as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Why is hope shown to be so powerful? It can be a catalyst for change, a knowledge of healing in the future, and an internal direction only you can hold. It is faith in yourself, that you are on the right path, even if it may currently feel wrong. This is what some may call blind faith or trust in the unknown. 

Having worked as an herbal clinic practitioner for the past eight years, I have seen many types of ailments, illnesses, and people who display these conditions. When a client holds hope entwined with action, I am confident this client will find what they are looking for in order to fulfill that goal.

According to psychologist Charlas Snyder, hope is a positive cognitive state based on a sense of successful goal-directed determination and planning to meet these goals. In his 1991 study, he recognized that the success of hope does not only stem from the ability to conceptualize a different outcome but also to put that thought into action and then have the resilience to see it through. He discusses the strength that comes from hope when it is comprised of these three components:

  1. Goals – the conceptualization of goals.
  2. Pathways- the capacity to develop strategies to reach goals.
  3. Agency- the ability to initiate and sustain the motivation to utilize the strategies. 

While it may be easy to discuss, hope is one of the hardest emotions to cultivate if you are without it. When hopelessness has set in you may also experience apathy, depression, and social isolation. Once in this state, it is difficult to climb out of that dark hole. 

The past few years have brought us increased isolation, higher social standards due to social media, and a sense of not much to live for due to increased costs of living, the destruction of the environment, and social unrest. Increasingly seen are the dramatically high rates of depression in young adults, especially women; in a 2023 study, 34.3% of women ages 18-23 reported depression within their lifetime. This number has jumped from 20.4% of women in 2017. These alarming rates are not only displayed in the U.S. but similar rates are found worldwide.

What can we do when we are feeling hopeless? How do we slowly make our way back to hope?

  1. Allow yourself grace. It may take time. 
  2. Connect with your body. Identify each of your five senses. Place your feet on the earth. Allow your senses to come alive.
  3. Identify your support system. Do you have someone to talk to? Do you have someone to check on you?
  4. Journal. Expand and Release your thoughts. 
  5. Exercise. Move your body.
  6. Make space for grief.
  7. Identify your feelings. Where do you feel this feeling in your body? (Stomach, Chest, Heart) What does it feel like? What triggered it? 
  8. Stay present. Identify when you are dissociating. 
  9. Seek professional help. 
  10. Congratulate yourself on any action.

Connection with the earth is one of the best healers I know. 

Flower Essence Plant Medicine Support

Flower Essences: this is a classification of energetic medicine. This is a great form of plant medicine to use, especially if you are on pharmaceuticals such as antidepressants (which teas and tinctures have the possibility of triggering unhealthy and possibly dangerous interactions). Because flower essences are energetic, they typically do not have any physical interaction with your body. They are great at being able to move emotions or helping to release stuck emotions and energetics.

Here are some examples:

Gorse Bach Flower Essence: support those who are experiencing hopeless depression.

Elm Bach Flower Essence: for those who are feeling overwhelmed. 

Gentian Bach Flower Essences: for those who feel depressed after a setback in life.

Mimulus Bach Flower Essence: useful for fears are anxiety which have a name (ex: I fear snakes).

Aspen Bach Flower Essence: useful for vague fear or anxiety that does not have a name. 

If you are feeling depressed, less than hopeful, or isolated, know that you are not alone. We are here for you. If you would like more information on flower essences, visit the Flower Essence Society or floweressencesociety.org. If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis or suicidal please call 911 or 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

Megan Fuhrman-Wheeler
Owner, MEGAN & CO. Herbal Apothecary
CCH, CCN, Flower Essence Practitioner


What is Hope in Psychology? 27 Aug 2019 by Elaine Houston, B.Sc.


U.S. Depression Rates Reach New Highs.Alvin Powell. Harvard Staff Writer. 15 Sept 2022


988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline https://988lifeline.org/

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