Working with people as they deal with the deepest and most important issues in life is beyond doubt one of the most amazing privileges. Lately, when Iíve been coaching people, Iíve noticed that some particular words keep coming up again and again. The first of them I noticed was “hope”.
The most distressing and disturbing issues in our lives come as a result of finding ourselves in hopeless situations. To feel that there is no hope for change, is ultimately what makes the issues in our life most painful. Hopelessness comes about when we feel like we have no choice. We feel that nothing we could possibly say or do will make any difference to our terrible situation. In this state, we live with a sense of blame and excuse, and feel as though our current predicament is completely outside our control to change or influence in any way.
Viktor Frankl was a Jewish Psychologist who was taken to a concentration camp along with his wife, parents and brother by the Nazi’s in the second world war. His wife was shot, his parents gassed and his brother died in the labour camp.
Here is a guy who has lost every earthly possession and everyone he loves has been brutally killed. On top of that, he is living in a concentration camp full of rats and lice, where it is freezing cold and everyone is starving. He is living amongst a people who have lost all hope, yet remarkably Viktor realised that the Nazi’s could take every single thing away from him except one last thing. They could never take from him his ability to choose how he would respond. They couldn’t stop him forgiving them, they couldn’t make him hate them. He was still able to choose to love and hope and therefore ultimately he was still free.
The most amazing thing about this man’s life is that although he had every reason in the world to experience hopelessness, he still found a way to exchange blame and excuse for responsibility and choice. “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom. Viktor Frankl
So back to us – The underlying key that makes hope possible is CHOICE. Where we live with the illusion of no choice, we inevitably feel hopeless. But as the life of Viktor Frankl proves, we always have choice.
Hope comes when we embrace choice. We can choose our response. We can choose the meaning we attach to events and conversations. We can choose what we focus on. We can choose our emotional state. There is always Hope. Every passing moment in another chance to make a different choice about how we will respond to the world around us.