Living Hope was launched to respond to a time when many in our culture are weary. We have championed self-reliance and believed the idea that toughing it out and picking ourselves up by our bootstraps will end in successful living. Most are so busy in this attempt that they are losing themselves and any type of meaningful connection to the whole.
It’s no wonder we’re so tired. It’s no wonder we’re seeing life through a lens of hopelessness! Between our emotional fatigue and diminishing ability to cope compounded by the hopeless narrative imposed upon us by culture and media, we are spent. People are turning to drugs and alcohol at alarming rates; suicide rates are rocketing, particularly amongst our youth and with women; systemic racism and xenophobia threaten to send our global society boiling over with hate and fear; the impact of mental illness is felt through acts of devastating violence; and generations of emotional neglect are resulting in incomprehensible grief and trauma for those affected sending the cycle down another branch of a family tree.
But within the community of Living Hope we have a different perspective. We see a collective conscience of attune and aware individuals who recognize the importance of the integration of the whole person – mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual – and that the cultural lone-ranger mentality has damaged our individual and collective mental health. We are a community of Hope Practitioners, people who actively and intentionally choose to pursue Hope in the face of adversity and uncertainty. We reflect on our past trauma and invite you to Begin the Practice, empowered by intentional acts of Surrender, Stillness, Grief, Honesty, Curiosity, Forgiveness, Resilience, and Joy.
A Word on Trauma
The way we experience trauma is often referred to as big-T and little-t. A big-T trauma is one with an emotional response where shock and denial are typical. Most of us would consider events such as war, service in war, sexual or physical abuse or violence, car accidents, floods, earthquakes, and unexpected deaths of loved ones as big-T traumas. This kind of trauma often results in long-term reactions, such as unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships, and sometimes physical symptoms. The passing of time may not heal big-T trauma, and professional help is often necessary for healing and resolution.
A little-t trauma is something that happens to you that is often unexpected or that you did not want to happen and exceeds your ability to cope. This trauma is overwhelming, and you are not in agreement with what is happening; you cannot always see choices in the midst of this trauma and you may not have the ability to completely be open and honest about what you are experiencing. A little-t trauma is experienced as traumatic at a personal level, such as the loss of important relationships, divorce, unexpected job loss, an abrupt move, loss of a lifelong dream, and wounding through supposedly safe environments that offer persistent, unmet emotional needs and neglect. Often with little-t traumas, you do not realize its impact – you adjust to it as normal and move on.
Even with this differentiation of big-T and little-t trauma, both are still painful. Little-t trauma is still trauma, and it is still painful – often the worst that someone has experienced – and it is no less valid than big-T trauma. The trouble with little-t trauma is its propensity to cumulate. Like placing marbles one by one in a backpack, the weight of it will eventually overwhelm you. The feelings are neither right nor wrong. The energy from these feelings wants to express itself behaviorally if we cannot express and process the feelings emotionally, accept what has happened, grieve our loss, understand how we have to change, forgive ourselves and others involved, appreciate our survival, and live the joy we experience from this process.
Hope is not an emotion – it is an action that must be practiced consistently and intentionally – and it is essential to healing and resolving trauma. The 8 Practices of Living Hope are the practical application of being fully present in your struggle, prepared to be informed by what it’s meant to teach you, and then ultimately joyful in its resolution, finding yourself closer to your true nature.
If some of us can begin to offload the backpack full of marble sized little-t trauma we can encourage and inspire others to follow suit. From there we can speak into Big-t trauma with an incredible amount of empathy and understanding, and positioned to affect change in not only the narrative of hopelessness but the root of it. This is Living Hope.