Issue #04 | December 2005

Live consciously. Create a life that you love. Attract the loving relationship that is "right" for you.

Today’s Topic: Freeing Yourself From Despair

Dear friends,

Christmas will soon be upon us, so let me take this opportunity to wish you the warmest of Seasons Greetings! May you have many moments of wonder, gratitude and celebration with those you love.
While Christmas can be magical, it can also be a time of loneliness. Despite the swirl of activities, as a single I remember feeling particularly alone during the holidays. I found it challenging to keep the faith that I, too, would one day have the relationship I desired.
May this holiday season bring you a renewed faith that you CAN have the life and relationship of your dreams.

Shirley Vollett, BSW
Life & Relationship Coach

Something to think about…

“I try to think positive when it comes to finding a relationship. But let’s face it, I haven’t had a date in years…”

“After two failed marriages, I’m not sure I even want to try again…”

“What’s the point of getting excited about finding a relationship? I’m afraid it’s too late for me…”

Sound familiar? Most singles can relate to feeling sentiments like these at some point in their dating careers. When seeking to find a committed, loving relationship, many are stopped in their tracks by the “D” word. You got it! DESPAIR!

In working with single clients, I have discovered that despair is one of the biggest obstacles that they contend with in their quest for relationship.
That’s why I think it is important to talk about this common experience.

I believe that identifying despair is the first step to freedom from it.

Once identified, we can learn to extract ourselves from feelings of discouragement and despair and move forward powerfully in creating the relationship we desire. When we don’t deal with it, despair and hopelessness can side-line even the best-laid plans and intentions.

I have noticed despair can strike even the most optimistic and pro-active single person. Before they step out the door or pick up the phone, they are sometimes immobilized by that cynical inner voice whispering:

“Who are you kidding?”
“Love will never happen for YOU.”

“You’ve messed up every relationship you’ve ever had.”
“You’ll NEVER have a successful relationship.”

As you can imagine, thoughts such as these are likely to send anyone running straight back into their apartment!

It’s not surprising that many singles are vulnerable to moments of despair

Most singles that I know have experienced the painful ending of one or more significant relationships. Such an ending may bring the fear that you may never find another relationship, and that there is no one out there “right” for you. Or you may fear that you simply don’t have what it takes, to keep a relationship and have it succeed. The older a single person is, the more “proof” they have that it won’t work out for them.

By definition, despair means “to give up all hope or expectation”. When you’re in despair, there is no optimism that THIS relationship could be different, or that there IS light at the end of the relationship tunnel. Despair feels like a box with no exit! Small wonder it sabotages the best intentions to socialize, meet people and date!

When I talk about “moments” or periods of despair, I am not talking about chronic depression. Chronic or ongoing depression is a much more serious condition that may require professional support and treatment. What I am talking about are occasional bouts of inertia and discouragement: those times when your enthusiasm fades and it is hard to follow through on your great plans to meet people and date.

Despair can appear in many guises.

Our failure to identify it accurately is often what keeps us in its grip. Here are a few ways that despair may surface:

You are lethargic and not your usual energetic self.
You feel discouraged and hopeless when you think about “getting out there” and meeting new people.
Suggestions from your upbeat and optimistic friends irritate you.
Regarding dating, the first words out of your mouth tend to be “Yes, but…”
There’s an attitude of “Why bother?”
You feel distinctly un-attractive and the thought of meeting new men/women seems overwhelming or futile.
You feel sorry for yourself and perhaps resentful of your partner-ed friends.

OK. So the bad news is: NOW YOU KNOW you’re feeling hopeless and despairing.

The good news is: once you’ve identified despair, YOU HAVE A CHOICE!

You can step back from yourself and consider your options.

You can decide if you want to remain in despair OR if you are ready to shift your perspective and attitude. (Remember: You don’t have to know HOW to make a shift, in order to declare your intention to do so. By setting your intention, you open the door to discovering HOW.)

Not ready to let go of the despair? Then give yourself permission to feel hopeless and despairing for a LIMITED TIME: perhaps one hour or the remainder of the day. You may find it difficult to keep it up that long, once you realize you have a choice!

When you choose to shift from despair to hope, there are things you can do.

1) Writing down the despairing thoughts you’re having can help a great deal. For example, you might write:

I feel hopeless that I will EVER have a relationship.
All the good men/women are taken.
I’ve had so many relationship failures, I’ll NEVER have one that works.
I’ll never have a relationship because I’m too fat/thin/shy/loud…”

Writing out the negative beliefs underlying your despair can give you some needed perspective and reveal how irrational they actually are.

2) It can be helpful to write a second list, refuting each belief with a more rational thought. For example, in response to the above comments you might write:

Just because I haven’t found a partner yet, doesn’t mean I never will.
There are many singles out there and I only need one!
I’ve grown through those failed relationships and learned many valuable lessons that will serve me in the next relationship.
Lots of fat/thin/shy/loud people have successful relationships.

Once you reveal the irrationality of those negative beliefs, they simply don’t hold the same sway over your feelings.

Now you can focus on cultivating an attitude of faith and optimism, to replace those unwanted feelings of despair.

I love how Daphne Rose Kingma puts it in her wonderful book Finding True Love: “…believing love awaits you means giving up again and again all the reasons you have for feeling that falling in love could never happen to you.” Sometimes we have a long list to let go of!

So don’t let despair side-line YOUR hopes and dreams for a wonderful relationship! You have the power to name despair for what it is – and to challenge its’ faulty thinking.

Invitation to action

Take charge of planning your holiday experience, so you are less likely to drift into despair. What will recharge your batteries? What blend of activities will nurture you? When do you want to be with others? When do you choose to be alone? Think ahead about those special dates (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve) and consciously decide how and with whom you want to spend those times. Then set it up!

Shirley Vollett, BSW is a Life & Relationship Coach who loves to support and encourage singles in their quest to have a satisfying, successful life AND relationship.

If you are wondering what next steps you could take in your quest for a relationship, contact to receive a free Relationship Readiness Review and a Complimentary Coaching Session with Shirley. Type “Readiness Review” in the subject line.

Shirley also offers Get Ready For Love! A Program for Singles. Find out more at

Visit to find out more about Shirley's coaching services.

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Copyright © 2005 by Shirley Vollett.
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