Learning How My Experiences Can Build Hope and Peace in Others

Man and woman holding hands at a table

Contributor:  W. Travis Stewart, LPC, NCC writer for Addiction Hope

It’s amazing how often we believe that in order to help others we must project strength, confidence and enduring faith in the face of suffering, loss and struggle.

Maybe this comes from our culture’s fascination with heroes like Superman and Thor. These giants who seem to be invulnerable get back up every time they get knocked down. Bullets bounce off of them and they seem to be able to take beating after beating. America loves a tough guy, a Rocky, or Terminator or John Wayne.

Yet those aren’t the heroes we identify with.

Nope. We may admire them from a distance but we don’t feel hope for our own stories.

child-164318_1280The heroes we really love are like Spider-Man. He’s the average kid who may have super strength and the ability to climb walls but he’s struggling to pay the bills or get Mary Jane to notice him.

We love Harrison Ford in The Fugitive because he is a normal guy wrongly accused and he somehow figures out how to survive and catch the bad guy.

Rudy remains a classic movie because a 150 lb. kid “without a speck of athletic ability” stuck with his dream and got to play a few seconds for Notre Dame.

When we see someone like this we think, “Maybe there is hope for me.”

That’s why you need to share your story. Your real story. Not the polished up, shiny, edited version of your story. You need to share the raw, caught-with your-pants-down, shot-yourself-in-the-foot time and time again, story.

This doesn’t mean to add drama or be morbid. Telling your honest story is not the same as playing the martyr. Some people love to get empathy through telling their own personal American Horror Story. That does not inspire hope. That inspires people to tune you out.

People don’t develop hope when they see how smart you are, or hear a list of good decisions you made. Those things might have merit in the right setting but they don’t build hope and peace.

Hearing good advice is helpful. It helps others consider the choices they are making. It sparks ingenuity but no one ever left a seminar with a bunch of tips feeling hopeful. Determined maybe, but not full of peace.

first-aid-850482_1280Hope and peace comes from realizing there is hope and peace on the other side of poor choices.

When you share your experiences it invites others into a sacred space where they have the chance to discover, “me too!” They realize that they aren’t the only one who has thought that “crazy thought” or done something shameful. They realize they are not alone.

Loneliness. Maybe that’s at the core of it. When we feel alone we lose hope and we lack peace.  Stories are what bind us to one another. Stories of our experiences bind us as fellow human beings. Deep, honest, vulnerable stories help us keep going.

Tell your story. It’s a good one.


Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

Has someone else’s recovery story impacted your life?  What changes have you made as a result of someone else’s inspiration?


About the Author:

Travis Stewart has been mentoring others since 1992 and became a Licensed Professional Counselor in 2005. His counseling approach is relational and creative, helping people understand their story while also building hope for the future.

Travis has experience with a wide variety of issues which might lead people to seek out professional counseling help. This includes special interest in helping those with compulsive and addictive behaviors such as internet and screen addiction, eating disorders, anxiety and perfectionism.

Travis graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1991 with a degree in advertising and immediately began working with the international ministry of The Navigators, mentoring students. After 8 years, his desire to better understand how people change, and through his own experience of receiving help from a professional counselor, Travis decided to return to school. He earned a Master of Arts in Counseling (2001) and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies (2003), both from Covenant Seminary in St. Louis, MO. Travis is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Missouri.


Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on August 24, 2015. Published on AddictionHope.com