I was recently reminded of the role of listening to our instinct when we feel the need to act for someone who is greatly suffering.

Either because of the COVID-19 pandemic, or despite it, there are people experiencing significant mental health challenges. Some who are on the brink of tragedy. To the point that life is so punishing and exhausting, it seems like they cannot take it anymore.  

Navigating struggle

I am someone who for most of my life has experienced varying degrees of anxiety and depression. Still, I find it difficult to convey hope to someone else who is suffering so deeply with virtually no reprieve in months and sometimes even years.

Through a lot of inner work, I feel fortunate at the present time to have a clear lens which allows me to offer hope in the most authentic way I can.

To remind all of us that hope is the lighthouse of our heart. 

That there is and always will be an emerging dawn or dusk. 

That the flow of life will eventually come back to some semblance of natural order. 

A path out of suffering 

I certainly acknowledge that for someone experiencing such degree of suffering, hope is a lofty word with no underpinning of their personal experience to draw upon. 

There are no easy ways around suffering. We must develop a degree of acceptance of suffering while finding a path through the suffering. For me, over the past 25 years, it is the framework and practice of yoga and meditation that makes sense. Likewise, there are other paths.

We can continue to take tiny steps forward with self-compassion and flexibility. There will be days and months that we may fall off the path. Ultimately though, with some discipline and a stroke of good fortune, we will live our way through it.

Self-will is not always straightforward 

The self-will to keep going when things seem utterly unhopeful is incredible to witness. There is validation in all of us when that seed of hope can get us through times of despair. 

However, the harsh reality is that there are people who can’t see a way forward and are convinced their circumstance will not shift. There is no recollection of hope and none to draw upon in the present or the future.

When this is someone you care about, it is truly heartbreaking. 

Though described as selfish of people to not consider their loved ones, dependents and friends who care so much about them, it has no bearing to someone in such a troubled and unwell state of mind. 

Act when others can’t 

When we are feeling well-adjusted, we can find ways to hold onto hope and connect with those that can’t find their own. That is our role to play when others are experiencing suffering or unrelenting misery. 

There are often signs and symptoms that an intuitive person can sense when someone is really suffering. We can tune in to our own gut, intuition, whatever you want to call it. When our awareness is expansive and alert, we can act on behalf of those suffering when their hope is temporarily lost. 

Finding our own way through

Our own inner work has a tangible role in supporting our wellbeing. We can then be present and attentive for others when they are suffering. 

It is important to be a great ally to those suffering and do what we can, yet we can only guide them toward their own path of self-will and better supporting themselves. 

We can help people find professional assistance or otherwise wise counsel. It may be helping them find a different life path. It may be through advocating when they cannot. It may be a conversation with a perfect stranger that drops a gem of insight. It may be sitting still in nature. 

Let us all be reminded of the lighthouse of hope in our heart. 

Even one small act can be a beacon for hope. 


  • Dr Deb Roberts has a PhD in public health. She is a writer, speaker, yoga teacher and mental health advocate. American born, she lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, three sons and golden retrievers Sparky and Indi. You can read more of her writing on her blog.