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Hanging onto Hope
By Caterina Spinaris
Published: 01/09/2017

Spirituality A prior version of this article was published in the December 2007 Correctional Oasis.

The essence of Corrections Fatigue is pessimism and cynicism, a hopelessness that sees little value in yourself or others, and little, if any, brightness for the future. Certain correctional environments are spiritual black holes. You observe some staff treating coworkers poorly (or you experience that treatment firsthand yourself). In the files you read, crime victims cry out. The population you house amounts to a cascade of broken lives and wasted potential. Antisocial thinking, addictions, poverty, generational abuse, racial injustice, mental illness—they’re all there. You look for success stories and you find very few. You may also look at your own life and not find many success stories (as you define success at this point) there either.

That is why you need to hang on to HOPE. Hope that good things CAN be attained, that everyone— yourself included—CAN respond to the call for improvement, that life CAN get better, that YOU CAN get progressively closer to all you were created to be.

As we’re coming to the Christmas and New Year celebrations once again, Hope becomes an even more vital commodity. This is the time when we tend to take stock of our lives and make resolutions about the future. Owning up to consequences of our unwise choices can be very painful (although it can also become the motivator for positive change). Or we may feel victimized by life, because we think that others are enjoying coveted privileges and blessings we’re not. In addition, during the holidays, the offenders’ collective heartache over their circumstances and their missing their families adds to the emotional turmoil.

During this season you need to dare to hope in order to grow wings and fly above the smog of negativity which may be hanging over your workplace and over your mind.

Hope that helps you rise above your circumstances first begins by ENCOURAGING you. Hope injects courage into your soul to begin (or to continue on) the journey of life-giving choices and actions. Hope shows to you life-affirming possibilities where you thought there were none. “The little train that could” is YOU! Yes, you can, even if you can only take one teeny-tiny step at a time, an ant-sized step. Take an ant step forward in the right direction and keep on going. Even ant steps, consistently taken, will get you where you now realize you need to be going!

Hope also gives you endurance to PERSEVERE on the good path. When you stumble and fall, when you slide backwards, Hope is there to help you up, clean you off, and set you on the way of life again.

Through encouragement and perseverance, Hope makes you able to OVERCOME obstacles in your way, giants that you never thought you could defeat. Hope convinces you that, indeed, you can remove the mountain in your path, even if you can only do it one scoopful at a time.

Hope helps HEAL your soul. It heals you from fears and worries, as it proves to you that good things are possible. It delivers you from envy and jealousy, as you realize that you too can see your dreams come to pass. Select worthwhile dreams, dreams that many years later you’ll be glad you set your heart on. Dreams based on worthy and noble values of the high road. There’s a reason the golden rule is called golden.

Hope SETS YOU FREE from the bondage of the lie that you’re not lovable, as it shows you the good in people, including yourself, in spite of your shortcomings. So EMBRACE HOPE TODAY and go to work on yourself and on your life.

This article as been reprinted with permission from the November 2016 Issue of Correctional Oasis, a publication of "Desert Waters Correctional Outreach".

Editor's note: Caterina Spinaris is the Executive Director at Desert Waters Correctional Outreach and a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Colorado. She continues to contribute to the field of corrections staff well-being individually and organizationally, in particularly regarding issues of traumatic stress due to exposure to violence, injury, death on the job, and also issues of organizational climate improvement.

Visit the Caterina Spinaris page

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