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  • Writer's pictureCoach Elizabeth Brink

On Being Hopeful

“Hope is a function of struggle. People with the highest hopefulness have the knowledge that they can move through adversity. When we take adversity from our children, we diminish their capacity for hope.” —Brene Brown

Hope is a core need for survival. Throughout the history of the world, we've seen people evolve with the hope of something better or just to survive the day.

To hope is to be vulnerable. We are simultaneously saying, “I want or need” and “I’m unsure.”

Defined by Oxford Languages: noun: hope; plural noun: hopes feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. "he looked through her belongings in the hope of coming across some information" Similar: aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, ambition, aim, plan, dream, daydream, pipe dream, longing, yearning, craving, hankering a person or thing that may help or save someone. "their only hope is surgery" Similar: grounds for hope, promise, light at the end of the tunnel, optimism grounds for believing that something good may happen. "he does see some hope for the future" Similar: hopefulness, optimism, expectation, expectancy, confidence, faith, trust, belief, conviction, assurance

Growing up, were you told being hopeful was foolish? Or maybe it was implied by the reactions to your latest goal or plan for some part of your life.

The mention of hope might trigger a stress response for you. You may be noticing some discomfort or resistance as you take in these words. I invite you to acknowledge the parts of you that feel guarded against hope. They are not wrong to feel protective of you, and you may have needed them or still do in certain settings.

We are a hopeful people.

  • We hope to find a new way that will (finally) make our lives better.

  • We hope to be accepted and encouraged in who we are — for connection and validation.

  • We hope to heal the pain of the past.

  • We hope our latest idea works.

  • We hope the world gets better.

Anyone working with a coach, therapist, medical professional, or body worker is hopeful. Our drive to learn new ways of caring for ourselves and others in The Enclave is an act of hope.

In our Collaborative discussion, we pondered how neurodivergent people may struggle to hold onto hope.

We might get impatient waiting for the good thing to come, and find ourselves impulsively moving on or jumping ahead.

Our inclination toward overwhelm and negativity, or being unable to not see all the ways something could blow up, make it hard to settle into hopeful perspectives.

“It doesn’t ignore the trouble, or make excuses, or deny danger. It is not pretending. It is acknowledging the truth of the situation and working to find the best way to cope. It’s showing up and working through the hard stuff, believing that something better is possible. It’s resilient.” - Polly Campbell

hands gently embracing small flower

Cultivating Hope

Years ago I came to the awareness that I had exiled hope. It felt too painful without more assurance my hopes would be fulfilled. It was safer to keep my desires aimed at “reasonable things.” This was often limited to career pursuits.

When I was little I learned how to make others feel hopeful. I was praised for lightening the vibe in a room. People relied on me to calm them down, stop the spinning. I was trained to spot what others needed hope in and come alongside them as if it was mine.

Nobody noticed that I had tucked away my own hope and allowed fear to guide me instead. Part of the ripple effect was a life guided by fear with little room for joy and fun.

A therapist recommended scheduling something to look forward to each week. This could be a meal, an outing, a conversation, an art or movement practice — just something that you could anticipate pleasure. It quickly became a practice of cultivating hopefulness. Looking forward to something and hoping it is good.

We agreed in group that cultivating hope is possible. The garden planted just for the sake of watching it grow, sitting outside on a quiet morning to ground yourself, or listening to the podcast Dolly Parton's America are small rituals that help us to embody hope as we move through our days.

One member shared what a body-worker encouraged them with: "when presented with the possibility or opportunity to hope, it's not a bad option!"

We're cautious about veering into the toxic positivity lane, but let's not get so far away from goodness that we miss the gifts for us and those around us when we embrace hopefulness as an option.

Embracing hopefulness does not dismiss pain and darkness. It invites us to glance up, catch a glimmer of something better to come, and allow in momentary relief from the burden of living.

What rituals do you have for cultivating hope?

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