Helplessly Hoping

Over the weekend I spent some time in my painting studio, listening to the 60’s rock group, Crosby, Stills Nash and Young. I’ve always loved their unique ability to harmonize and for me, at least, their music continues to sound contemporary and relevant.

Helplessly Hoping is one of their more well-known songs, and as I did my own harmonizing, it occurred to me how the title seems relevant today as well, but for a different reason.

Too many of us are hoping for a way to make our personal lives more meaningful but feel helpless and confused about how to make that happen.

It looks as though what’s happening in the world is determining the quality of our lives. And to some degree that’s true. But that’s on the surface of things.

There continue to be shortages related to the pandemic. Politics and individual rights continue to be a free-for-all. People continue to behave in ways we don’t expect and we often have to pick up the pieces.

These are external events and circumstances, and obviously the fact that they occur is out of our control.

But how we respond to external events is 100% up to us. And that’s also true of how we respond to the discouraging or disparaging thoughts in our heads.

Our ability to choose what we pay attention and respond to is the reason why we hold such enormous power in our hands to change our lives in meaningful and lasting ways.

So many people — women especially — sit on the sidelines of their own lives, wishing things were different but not knowing exactly what’s missing or what steps to make their lives better, or even where to get the support they need to make it happen.

Very few of us realize how much power we have to take a stand, act from what we truly want and believe. But when we do, we can transform our lives to reflect what we most value.

When we lose faith in our ability to take a stand and do what we know will allow us to live deeply and happily, our lives becomes a burden.

No spark. No surprises. No growth.

Emotionally, we find ourselves feeling a lot of regret. Or guilt. And grief for a life that we could be living — but aren’t.

And we feel the clock ticking.

In my own life, I had to get to a point where I could no longer tolerate living according to I thought others expected of me.

It took longer than I would have liked to get there, but get there I did.

I had to get laid off from a job for it to happen.

The startling revelation I had when I saw the truth for myself was this: I was the one who had chosen to live according to the expectations of others.

Nobody forced me to take that job other people thought I’d be good at.

Nobody forced me get involved in activities that were highly recommended as necessary or advantageous for my professional or personal development.

I made those choices on my own volition. When I had that realization, you might say I took back my power.

If I could choose a course of action that didn’t fit who I was, I could also choose a course of action that did.

What is that power? Firstly, it’s the recognition that what I want for myself is more important and more valuable than what anyone else wants for me. No matter how well intentioned their advice may be.

Now this “wise counsel” is as old as the hills, right? So isn’t it odd how powerful the conditioning is that we’re exposed to, from our culture, our families, our education to our our religion? If you look carefully, most, if not all, of that conditioning is designed to make us “fit in.” It discourages us from relying our own inner knowing, our own sense of truth for ourselves.

Secondly, and probably more importantly, I realized that my “inner knowing” was supremely trustworthy. I can always tell when I’m going against that gut feeling in order to feel safe. There is inevitably a sense of conflict or capitulation when I go against my better judgment.

True safety comes from recognizing your own innate wholeness and possibility. Whatever has happened to you hasn’t touched or harmed that deepest part of you. Never will.

And that deepest part of you is the place from which your power, your potential, your creativity, your inspiration all spring.

Your experiences don’t define who you are or what your capabilities are. We’ve all heard stories of people who have been the recipients of difficult, even traumatic events who’ve ended up transcending the consequences of those experiences and triumphed.

This can be your story, too.

There’s no question that there can be some tricky moments in extricating ourselves from the web of expectations and assumptions that we’ve gotten entangled in.

And yet, with the right support and encouragement, there’s an undeniable sense of personal freedom and expansiveness that results from trusting ourselves and insisting on what we need in order to thrive.

That’s how we’re meant to live. Whoever told you otherwise did you a grave disservice. Even if it was meant to be in your best interests.

When you’re considering someone else’s opinion, you don’t — and shouldn’t — take it as your truth. Unless of course, it rings true for you.

When I was finally at my wits’ end and said “no more,” it opened up the space to discover where “yes, more” was hiding. I dug out that cobwebby wish list of mine and started to look at it more seriously.

At least once a day I now ask myself “what do I want for myself?”

Not, what do I have to do. Not, whose circumstances do I need to manage now? Not, when is it going to be my turn?

This doesn’t mean I ignore the concerns of others or remain aloof from suffering. Far from it. When I’m clear on who I am and what I have to offer, I can act from integrity and love.

And that changes everything.


Nina Lockwood’s invitation to you is to live free — your way. She’s a coach, artist and author coach in love with life — and she knows how to do it. Visit her at, LinkedIn or Instagram (@ninalockwood.nilo).



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Nina Lockwood

Nina Lockwood


Coach/writer/artist. I help others find peace of mind, fulfillment, spiritual understanding and how to live consciously.