If I’d turn back time right now and flock myself to relive all my most impactful breakups, the first thing I’d do after each would surprise many.
I wouldn’t bother meditating, journaling, or practicing gratitude. I wouldn’t fuss about letting go or my self-care routine. I wouldn’t even try to understand why my breakups happened and how I fucked up.
What I’d work on first is finding hope amid despair, on finding those few subtle, colorful patterns in the infinite sea of static. And only after seizing a handful of them would I proceed to everything else one has to do to heal a broken heart.
You need hope to heal from your breakup. You need hope to even try and heal from your breakup. Hope is the catalyst and facilitator of strong mental and emotional and spiritual health. Without hope, our whole apparatus shuts down.
If you don’t believe there’s a future after your breakup, that your life will improve in some way, that you’ll get better, then you’ll die spiritually.
After all, if there’s no hope of things ever getting better, why do anything? Why try to make something of yourself? Why even live?
There are two major ways one can apprehend hope: a) as an emotion that makes us participate in our own rescue and b) as a coping mechanism that gets us through loss.
At its core, hope is when you still give a fuck about something despite adversity. But, as soon as you find yourself indifferent to it, you’re brushing at the contours of hopelessness.
Hopelessness is a belief that nothing matters anymore, that your future is meaningless, and that no matter what you do, you won’t get better — the world won’t get better.
Put differently, hopelessness is nihilism. The rejection of meaning. The belief that all is meaningless. The belief that everything is fucked.
And this is where many breakup survivors get stuck.
They think that to recover they need to overcome their anxiety, their depression, their misery, their ex-addiction, their obsessions about reconciliation, and so forth. In reality, what they should focus on first, is finding hope because hopelessness is the source of all those things.
Hopelessness is the source of all misery and the cause of all addiction. This is not an overstatement. Chronic anxiety is a crisis of hope. It is the fear of a failed future. Depression is a crisis of hope. It is the belief in a meaningless future. Delusion, addiction, obsession—these are all the mind’s desperate and compulsive attempts at generating hope one neurotic tic or obsessive craving at a time. (1)
How To Find Hope
The way one finds hope amid despair, the patterns amid the static, is by finding something to live, strive, suffer and die for that’s more important than their breakup. This something is a purpose, the biggest hope-sandwich you can eat.
However, I’m not referring to the spiritual BS version with all the lofty expectations tied around it here. No. What I’m referring to is the simple, down-to-earth purpose of “What should I be doing in my life that I like, that I’m somewhat good at, that I can make a living around, and that’s important.”
Finding this out — especially now that we’ve stripped it of all the lofty woo-woo cosmic significance bullshit — is far simpler than you think. Usually, your purpose will be right in front of you.
When I started my Internet business in 2016, I’ve been dabbling with all kinds of platforms, looking for one I was born to base my career around.
I wrote blog posts, I filmed Youtube videos, I recorded Podcasts, I designed pins for Pinterest, hell, I even ran Facebook, Google, and Reddit ads, all at the same time. Basically, I’ve been all over the digital entrepreneur landscape. And in retrospect, the only thing that stuck with me was blogging.
But despite writing three books and hundreds of posts, It still didn’t occur to me. I still kept searching for that one thing I was meant to do, even though It was clear as day I should double down on blogging.
On the one hand, what held me back was my lack of self-awareness, but on the other, it was my fear of failure.
But hey, that’s how purpose works! You notice it only by observing the mundane and obvious. And chances are, you already know it but are just too afraid or insecure to pursue it. It’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
If you have no idea what to do with your life, try as many things as you can, and you’ll get a better sense of what’s enjoyable and important for you and what’s not. And if you somewhat know purpose already but fear to pursue it, seek help, read books, work on yourself. It’s really that simple. Hell, sometimes you don’t need to do anything other than grow up.
Pursuing Hope While Knowing It’s A Ghost
As much as hope is paramount for living a functional and good life, the uncomfortable reality is that it’s nothing but an illusion. The universe doesn’t care whether you find solace or put a bullet in your head. It doesn’t care about your happiness, your recovery, your mental health. It couldn’t care less.
It’s only you who cares.
So you desperately delude yourself that there’s some grand importance, a grand meaning behind accomplishing your post-breakup goals, behind your endurance, behind your suffering.
However, there’s nothing there: no grand meaning, no grand purpose. It’s all made up. Even your self-importance is imaginary. And your actions mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. You are nothing. We are nothing. And any sort of rebuttal to those things is only your hope talking. But that’s okay. It’s a healthy form of delusion — one that keeps hopelessness, and with it, nihilism at bay.
So be brave and embrace it. Go and find your hope. But not just any hope; a sustainable, realistic, robust, and powerful one. A hope that cuts through the infinite static and pierces your heart with glee. A hope that can carry you to the end of days.
This article is based and inspired by one of my all-time favorite books: Everything Is Fucked: A Book About Hope by Mark Manson.
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