Why You Shouldn’t Underestimate the Healing Power of Hope

Wind blowing a dandelion against a backdrop of skyIt’s a brand-new year. At the stroke of midnight on January 1, people around the world reflected on the year gone by and embraced new possibilities, goals, and resolved to make changes in their lives or to realize their dreams. People around the world embraced hope.

Hope. It’s a small word, but its meaning is far from small. Merriam-Webster defines hope as “the feeling of wanting something to happen and thinking that it could happen; a feeling that something good will happen or be true.” When I conducted an informal and unscientific Facebook survey asking “What does hope mean to you?” I received answers such as “something to look forward to,” “a dream of what could be,” “wide-open spaces to create,” “dreams,” and “possibility.”

Based on its definition and these responses, it seems as if hope is perceived and experienced as a positive force. As a therapist and as a person, I believe hope motivates us to achieve our goals, get through hard times, and support each other. Hope is a necessary component of the therapeutic process. People usually consult me because they want something different in their lives, such as changes in a relationship, a job, or changes within themselves. For those struggling with a relationship or wanting some kind of change in their lives, hope is crucial.

Exploring what people hold hope for often spurs rich conversations about their desires for their lives. In fact, hope is often one of the first things I inquire about, with questions such as “What do you hope for?” and “Is your current situation/relationship what you had hoped for?”

Hope opens doors and has the power to sustain us through the most difficult of times and circumstances. Having the ability to look forward keeps us moving forward, and hope plays an important role in this process.

So what is it about this intangible concept we call hope? How does hope work? One way to see the power of hope is to examine life without it.

Hope opens doors and has the power to sustain us through the most difficult of times and circumstances. Having the ability to look forward keeps us moving forward, and hope plays an important role in this process.

After the recent terror attacks in Paris, people woke up to a new day. The death and destruction left behind by the terrorists were still there, but gradually people began to go on. The world came together to support healing in Paris and as loved ones were laid to rest, people went back to work. Though changed forever for some, life moved forward. Hope played a key role in all of it.

Imagine if we didn’t believe we could have something different in our lives, if we held no hope that we could overcome tragic circumstances such as the Paris attacks, or if we couldn’t believe there is still good in the world. Holding on to purpose in life would be much more difficult without hope.

In my experience in the therapy room, when people have no hope, problems tend to control their destinies. When I can assist people in uncovering even a glimmer hope for something (anything!), the problem begins to lose power—and when the problem loses power, the person starts to determine his or her destiny on his/her terms. Often, hope serves as the catalyst to uncover forgotten strengths, to begin to see possibilities, and to create and sustain change. As a therapist, hope is often my “partner” in helping people overcome obstacles or loss and see their worlds through a different lens. I want hope floating around the therapy room as often as possible, just waiting to be discovered and embraced!

So, as we march into another year, embrace hope. Hope allows for possibilities. Hope motivates. Hope heals.

© Copyright 2016 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Deanna Daniels, LMFT, Adjusting to Change / Life Transitions Topic Expert Contributor

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Chartim

    January 7th, 2016 at 10:53 AM

    Mind over matter can and sometimes does prevail.

  • Toby

    January 7th, 2016 at 4:23 PM

    It is pretty much a proven fact that staying in a hopeful state of mind is only going to be that much more of a boost to your health.

  • Gladys

    January 8th, 2016 at 9:43 AM

    I don’t think that most of us give too much credence to the proven fact that not giving up hope is what will encourage us to go on with our lives. Even when the time feels almost hopeless like after many of the horrific events that we have experienced worldwide this year, I think that there is still this tendency in most of us to believe that there is still a ray of hope at the end of the tunnel. We may not be able to yet verbalize what that is but in most of us we still know that it is there and there is an innate desire to go on and to eventually reach that light.

  • Tobias

    January 9th, 2016 at 9:38 AM

    I know that I am just about the only person who will ever have the amount of confidence in me and my own abilities to do the things that need to be done to accomplish my goals. If I give up on that hope, then what is there left?

  • Destiny

    January 11th, 2016 at 7:08 AM

    my mommy gave me hope when she named me
    i could never forget that

  • sue

    January 14th, 2016 at 1:35 PM

    Call me the skeptic but I am always looking for answers that are just a little more tangible than just having hope that it will all work out.

  • Holly T

    April 3rd, 2016 at 10:19 AM

    Amen! I so agree! We can’t live without hope!

  • Eileen

    August 18th, 2019 at 6:25 PM

    Very uplifting article

  • Wilethia

    October 19th, 2019 at 1:46 PM

    Hope is all we have at the end of the day!

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