Hope and Trust, and Reclaiming the Future
In this post, I’m moving slightly away from my recent posts on “Emotions of the Pandemic”, to examine hope and trust.
Hope and trust might seem like they’re very important things in a major life transition such as this pandemic period, and of course they are. However, they’re equally important for any season in our lives. Many of the things that are true about hope during the pandemic are true, really, about a great many stages and points in our lives.
Hope is an essential part of human life. You may have heard some version of that old saying:
Humans can live about forty days without food, maybe three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but only about one second without hope.
Yet what exactly is hope? How do we get it? As C.G. Jung tells us, it’s not just something that happens to us:
Faith, hope, love, and insight are the highest achievements of human effort [italics mine].C.G. Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul
Jung ranks hope as one of the great accomplishments of the human spirit, and he recognizes that there’s more to it than might at first appear.
Hope and Trust: Not Exactly Emotions
Hope is not just a naive, feel-good emotion that carries us along. It’s a dynamic motivator that involves at least three of the four psychological functions: thinking, feeling and intuition. The emotional and feeling part of hope follows the thinking and intuitive part which generate motivating goals. There can be an inspirational aspect to hope, in that the things that really move us to persist and to strive can sometimes come in a full-blown way out of the unconscious.
Hope has an emotional part, a positive emotional charge that comes out of our capacity to imagine possibilities, and ways in which we might start to be able to realize them. It relates to our capacity to establish what psychologists like Prof. Charles Snyder call learning goals, which are goals that help us to aspire to improving our situation, and that of those we care about. This contrasts with those who lack hope, who tend to choose only mastery goals, which are easy goals that don’t require us to challenge ourselves, or do anything we haven’t tried before. These are goals that don’t aspire to anything better than the present situation. They are devoid of hope. Very often, they can be associated with high levels of depression and anxiety.
Where Can I Find Hope and Trust?
The road to hope starts with imagining possibility, ways in which things could be different and better than what we currently are experiencing. So there is definitely an element of imagination in hope.
Sometimes, our experience in life may prevent us from imagining possibilities that are different from the things we experience at present. This may be as a result of experience from even the early days of life, when perhaps the family dynamics, economic conditions or other factors led us to close the door on anything other than the particular situation in which we as children or young people found ourselves.
Or, it may be that, as a result of setbacks and issues that we face in the present that our capacity to imagine and take steps to move toward good things in the future has been damaged, or lost altogether. This situation is what we call “losing hope”. It can be caused by many types of life circumstances, but it’s an experience that a good number of people are encountering during this time of COVID-19 and lockdown.
We need to get back to our hope, and to trust in a future that can offer us good things.
Strength for Now and the Future
In order to move into a personal future that is worth having, we need to be able to envisage a better possibility for the future. We also need to have the motivation and resilience to pursue those possibilities, and we need to be able to see at least the outline of a way of getting to those goals. It can be a crucial and demanding piece of psychological work to move into a place of healing, from which hope is possible.
Working with a /a-midlife-transition to develop the ability to imagine better future possibilities that can actually be achieved, and to find the inner motivation and resiliency to move toward them, can be a very important step towards recovering genuine hope and trust in our life journey.
Wishing you genuine and lasting hope and trust for your journey to wholeness,