Q. At times, I feel deluged with and surrounded by people who are hopeless. What can I do?

A. Individuals who lack hope can become desperate for answers. Since finding hope is a personal journey and you cannot do it for them, their desperation can be irritating at best and at worst lead you to either try to avoid them or just shut down emotionally.

People who are hopeless often gravitate toward those who have a sense of hope—for a while. Then they get tired of seeing someone else experience hope and either try to sabotage that sense of hope or eventually distance themselves from that hopefulness, much as water seeks its own level. Perhaps the trick, if you will, is to develop skills to recognize when someone genuinely wants some help versus those who want to bathe in the positive atmosphere of encouragement but who either are unwilling to bite the bullet and do the work or who wittingly or unwittingly sabotage the help offered.

My strategy is to write notes to people who ask for help and sometimes talk with them briefly on the telephone. However, it is also my responsibility to protect my brain and body that have been leased to me for use on this planet from over-exposure to negativity and hopelessness.