Inspirational Articles

Hope Is More Than a Four Letter Word

Hope Is More Than a Four Letter Word

Conscious Living Column

By Gord Riddell and Kathy Ryndak


Within all humans is a remarkable quality called hope. It is something we all know about and yet defining exactly what hope is alludes us.  It is unique in that we can use it as both a noun and as a verb. “Hope dwells within”- is an example of it as a noun or the subject of a sentence. “Throughout Sally’s entire ordeal, she hoped fervently for a positive outcome”. That is how hope is seen as a verb, or the action word in a sentence. While this is not an article about the use of a noun or verb in the English language, it is a way to underscore the importance of hope in the human psyche. It is not an emotion nor is it part of the analytical or cognitive function of the brain. Hope appears to stand on its own as though through some divine intervention it is planted within us to be utilized when the need for a positive outcome is deeply desired. It is through our deepest fears and pain that Hope always points us towards the positive and always this positive outcome resides somewhere in the future.

Much like describing love and faith, words often fail to adequately describe what or how any of these three attributes are or can be fully experienced. It is known that at pivotal moments in our lives such as the impending loss of someone close to us, an illness strikes our physical body or a change in anything that we have a strong attachment to, that hope becomes the sole saving grace that lifts us up and seems to sustain us until we can internally arrive at a new level. Then having found our own inner strength, we carry on. The power of hope is sorely underestimated by most people. It is talked about, just like love and faith, the words freely sprinkled throughout our dialogues as if describing something from a television show - “We can only hope that she will find the faith to be able to love again.” In poking fun at how we can string these powerful energies together into a simple dramatic sentence, we can see how lightly these powerful forces have been trivialized.

Action not Concepts

Hope is neither passive nor a docile quality of the human experience. Like love and faith, we are convinced we know something about each and yet we cannot really describe them. We know all three can exert powerful driving forces in our lives but we do not know them as much more than complex ideas which are highly subjective. They are though much more than concepts that we give a nod to in our discussions. Our intellectual need to understand and describe things have moved these powerful forces from the realm of experience to the arena of intellectual banter. Hope, Love and Faith are the very actions that drive the human psyche. The presence of hope in all areas of our lives experiencing upheaval, pain or despair will help us to rise up and contend with our challenges, feeling strengthened and more confident.  Hope is truly not a noun as was written earlier in this article; it is an absolute action word, which while it may be only 4 letters, embraces the fullness of the human potential.

For the caregiver, hope is a major tool on the road to wellness. It is also a major tool on the path that leads us through our death and in to the next expression of life.  As hope always points to a positive outcome in the future, it is not even questioned as to its existence in the present. It is this very fact that many of the world`s religions adhere to doctrines of an afterlife filled with a splendor we can only dream of in our worldly existence. An afterlife that is pain free, expansive and filled with all the requirements that we imagine will be necessary to have an afterlife that is a reward for all the good we did here on earth.  Hope again points us to a positive future even in the great unknown and gives us comfort that all will be well.

It is well documented that the loss of hope in any individual will lead to or deepen a depressive period in virtually all people. It is also documented that the progression of most potentially fatal illnesses is accelerated in the individual that no longer has hope in a positive outcome to what they are experiencing. For the caregiver, whether it be a physical illness, mental disorder or a spiritual crisis, the reconnection to a place of hopefulness is an early primary treatment goal which facilitates a patient moving forward to an improved situation. In the absence of hope, only fear exists which can be both limiting and destructive to the human psyche.

Magical is not always helpful

Hope when diminished from our experience creates both fear and paralysis. However too much hope can be problematic as well. Learned as children, we dreamed that the problems of life that were impacting us would magically go away. We hoped with all our heart that today, our parents wouldn’t yell and scream at each other, that mommy wouldn’t get drunk and daddy didn’t say mean things. Each day we hoped that it would be different and even when it wasn’t we never gave up hope for something better.

Having learned in the face of adversity that hope dispelled the bad feelings and lifted our spirits, as adults we continue to use this magical thinking to get us through our life. The problem however is it has re-enforced our denial of serious problems. Abusive relationships, addictive behaviours are just some of the problems we can remain involved in due to the magical thinking, in hoping that today it will be better. The magical child, while enhancing aspects of our adult life, can bring with it a shadow side which prevents us from seeing our reality in a clear way which may enable us to take a definitive course of action to help us out of serious situations. The erroneous thinking that today when our spouse comes home it will be different and harmonious only to see the evening degenerate into yet another screaming match.  Nothing will change through hope and magical thinking alone.

Hope is a powerful energy which fuels our many strengths as they propel us towards creating a different and more positive outcome for our problems. Hope, faith and love are all metaphysical traits, delivered from our Higher Self and are calls to action that rise far above the conceptual ideas lost in words in our efforts to describe them. True Hope is not about being optimistic, Faith is not about believing in the unknown and Love is not romantic, what they are, when combined and put into action, are pure, formidable energy that spurs the human psyche to divine acts of great compassion and selflessness.