Hope: An Unexpected Path to Resilience

Written by on December 3, 2019 in Emotional Mastery, Self-Determination
 “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and expect nothing”

It would be hard to imagine another word or concept that is more misunderstood or maligned than hope.

For many, hope is an emotional state associated with unrealistic expectations that serve only to set you up for an extra dose of pain and sorrow.

While others fall back on hope as a form of wishful thinking, the last resort when you can’t think of any other way to get what you want.

Even under the best circumstances, hope is seen as weak and passive.

Interestingly the scientific assessment is quite the opposite.

Rather than an expression of powerlessness, studies have shown hope to be a thinking process, a dynamic motivational system and a source of fuel for resilience.

Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you are clear about what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen.
~Laini Taylor

Why We Struggle with Hope

In the simplest terms, hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

It’s not much of a stretch to assume that for critics the issue is the focus on expectation for a specific outcome.

I’m sure you’ve heard it before.

Hoping for something almost certainly leads to disappointment.

If you don’t expect anything and happen to get what you want, great. If not, you can comfort yourself in the knowledge that it just wasn’t meant to be.

This is a classic example of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If you are someone who avoids risking discomfort and uncertainty, then you are far more likely to give up at the first sign of a problem, or if something requires more effort or takes longer than you expected.

The result will naturally be disappointment combined with a hefty dose of self-ridicule for having hoped for a better outcome. 

The problem with hope is that it is inconsistent with our do it now, fix it fast, find a short-cut culture.

Hope is about finding and seeing the long view.

Once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.
~Haruki Murakami

Redefining Hope

The key to turning hope into a powerful tool for change and enhanced resiliency is in your mind.

Rather than just sitting back and experiencing hope as a temporary escape from reality, you can choose to use it to motivate you to take positive action. 

A belief in self and your power to positively influence the quality and course of your life, determination, and the ability to manage setbacks, are the heart of hope.

But there is one more characteristic that is especially relevant to our focus on resilience and growing through life’s challenges.

Social psychologists have determined that hopeful people engage in more of something called “pathway thinking” where they are able to come up with lots of different ways in which they can successfully reach a chosen goal.

Resilient individuals understand this and use hopefulness to fuel their efforts to find solutions and keep moving forward, even if it means creating pathways to a new reality.

A Journey Fueled by Hope

If you take the time to read the stories of those who have overcome even the most unimaginable life-changing events, you’ll find the common thread is that they refused to give up hope.

One such example is a story I shared in a previous post on everyday heroes about 20-year-old construction worker Cliff Meidl.

Cliff survived an accident that sent an electric current through his body 3 times more powerful than that used for capital punishment in an electric chair, leaving him unresponsive and his entire body burned.

No one would have blamed him for giving up, especially during the painful months of multiple surgeries and therapy following the accident.

But he held out hope for recovery and living a full life even if it meant a different reality than the one he’d previously known.

Cliff went on to achieve that in a very big way.

I encourage you to read Cliff’s inspiring story by following the link below.

Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. ~Andy Dufresne, Shawshank Redemption

Closing Thoughts

Hope is the belief that you have the ability to positively influence the quality and course of your life – and this is critical – you choose to turn that belief into a powerful motivation system by playing an active role in making it so.


Of course, ultimately hope is just a word, all that really matters is your perception of it and how that belief affects your behavior on a day-to-day basis.

In her book, Fancy Pants, comedian, writer, and actor Tina Fey shares how she made up the word blorft to express the feeling of being completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine.

I love her humor and creativity, and you can do the same thing!

If you just can’t get past your bias with hope, or you’d just like to come up with a word that has a more personal meaning for those times when you’re up to your eyeballs with life (like the one I share to the right), then DO IT!

The bottom line is when the chips are down, and you need a powerful shot of motivation to help you find new ways to reach your goal or push you a challenging period in your life, there really is no substitute for hope.

Related reading:
Will you be the passenger or the driver in your life journey?
About Marquita A. Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Emotionally Resilient Living Start Here

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