Hope for the New Year: Finding Your Own Unique Way
It’s natural, and almost a truism to speak of finding hope for the New Year. But how do we actually do that? And what should we put our hope and trust in?
Hope in the New Year is no pie in the sky or academic issue. Especially at this moment in time, many struggle in a fundamental way with the question of where to place their hope. At this moment in time, we are dealing with a great deal of uncertainty in our world. This comes from sources as diverse as the pandemic, which still lurks in our background, the economy, which is remains very uncertain, and our changing climate. There seems to be so much transition and uncertainty in our environment.
A great many people people today are living with the direct impacts of this uncertainty. It is affecting the fabric of their lives as individuals, and their relationships and family lives. It’s hard to predict exactly how things will unfold. It’s very easy to project our pessimism and worse case outcomes on this blank screen. How can we get to a hope that will be sustaining? How can we find our way through the challenges of the New Year, and of the future as a whole?
We Need the Most Basic Kind of Hope and Trust
The possibility of hope for the future is linked in the most fundamental way to a basic trust in life. A basic trust is fundamental to human existence. As psychoanalyst Erik Eriksen writes,
Hope is both the earliest and the most indispensable virtue inherent in the state of being alive. If life is to be sustained hope must remain, even where confidence is wounded…
“If life is to be sustained hope must remain.” This is a view to which C.G. Jung also vigorously subscribed. For Jung, as for Eriksen, hope, and the sense that there is the possibility for good things to develop out of the present. They saw it as an absolutely essential aspect of what it is to be—and to remain—human.
Yet, what really is hope? One of my favourite quotes about hope gives a fairly surprising description:
Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.
Hope “sings the tune without the words”! Wow—what does that mean? Apparently, this hope is not some form of rational deduction or calculation of the odds, because such things would be rooted in words. The hope that Dickinson is referring to must come from some place entirely different. The most basic level of hope that good things are possible in our lives stems from our earliest relationships, especially from the bond with the mother. And at an even more basic level, hope emerges from something beyond what James Hollis has labelled our “nervous Nelly” ego. Hope is rooted in the broader personality, in the Self.
Hope versus Denial
Sometimes, we don’t operate from a place of hope. It’s common enough for people to get caught up in a place of “just going through the motions”. Instead of having an activating and enlivening sense of possibility for the future, we can keep operating, and getting through our days performing by rote, just carried along by routine.
It’s possible for people to have little or no hope, and to go through the motions in their daily life in complete denial. It may be that people in this situation are actually stuck in the opposite of hope: despair. Despair is that state where individuals lack the sense of possibility for their lives. It can be a very debilitating state of mind. Very often, it is rooted in early life experience of physical or emotional neglect, or in later traumatic experience.
For a fulfilling human life, it’s essential that we find our way to hope. How can we do that?
Hope for the New Year, Hope for Ourselves
This early part of the New Year strongly highlights our need for hope. As we pass the winter solstice, with its shortest day, and its minimal light,, and the calendar changes to a New Year, it’s natural for us to turn our minds to the future. It’s also natural to seek to increase our capacity for hope, and for a sense of possibility for our own lives, and for the lives of those who are closely connected to us.
Often, an exploration of our lives, and of our deepest selves can lead to connection with those parts of ourselves that carry hope. Working with a Jungian analyst in a secure and supportive relationship can often be of great help in this process, as we explore past wounds, but also the elements of psyche that draw us forward into the possibilities in our lives.
With every good wish for your personal journey,
© 2023 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario