The Anatomy of Hope

I thought that I was going to write about fear this week. But instead I am writing about hope!

Hope is noun and a verb…it is something we have and something we do. When we are hopeful we believe that something we desire can or will happen, therefore we have “hope.”


Sometimes optimistic people are viewed as being unrealistic or naive. To me this appears to be because we have an anthropological imperative to be wary of danger. As a result, people are often preparing for the worst instead of preparing for the best.

At a minimum, to experience more hope we need to get more comfortable with what “is,”  as opposed to the either extreme (particularly as opposed to being fearful).

I recently heard the phrase “We spend far too much time dying…and too little time living!”  This can apply to both our physical and emotional health.

The Anatomy of Hope

It is well documented that people who experience the depths of depression and become suicidal experience feelings of “hopelessness.” While this is troubling, it is also a reminder/indicator that  “hope” is fundamental to human existence.

Hope and hopefulness are critical to mental fitness. As I reflect on hope, there are some key components that are present in one who truly has hope. In these components, we can find the conditions and qualities that therapists, counselors, helping professionals, friends etc… can seek to embody.


Encouragement comes in various forms. To encourage someone involves helping to cultivate confidence – a belief that they can do something. Encouragement comes in many forms, below are but a few:

  • Simply by “being”  with someone else on their journey.
  • By giving and receiving words of affirmation (essentially…“I see you”“I honor you”).
  • And also by believing in someone’s ability even when they do not believe in themselves.

The qualities described above are part of the conditions for encouraging others…however we must cultivate these qualities within ourselves to be successful in supporting others.

Sometimes helping professionals find themselves depleted and fatigued; thus not experiencing hope or hopefulness themselves. In this state, it is increasingly difficult to support clients. We don’t have to be hopeful and encouraging all of the time, but these experiences cannot be so distant or barely recognizable within us.


Inspiration involves the development of ideas to “do”  or “be”  something. I can’t think of anything I do or create that isn’t supported by some-

  • concept;
  • idea;
  • well written phrase;
  • poetry;
  • philosophy;
  • spiritual practice;
  • or school of thought.

Other times it is someone else’s accomplishment; the beauty of what they have created; or their success.


Hope is imbued with possibility. Within the realm of possibility is the recognition that we have choices. In some instances all we have is our choice as to how we respond and what we choose to focus on…

  • We can focus on loss…and we can focus on life.
  • We can focus on pain and we can focus on breathing.
  • We can focus on fear and we can focus on being brave.

These “being” states are not mutually exclusive.

  • When we experience loss it adds meaning and value to life.
  • When we experience pain it elevates our awareness of the critical need for nurturing.
  • When we experience fear it highlights the necessity of courage and bravery.

The Anatomy of Hope!





Hope involves longing…longing can be both painful and motivational. It is not the goal that one would never feel hopeless, sad or down. We cannot have hope without hopelessness. We must give honor and acknowledgment to them both.

Don’t be too quick to demonstrate optimism or lightheartedness when someone shares a painful, frightening or discouraging circumstance. Remember we can help best by first learning to be with whatever is true.

Copyright © 2016 Ruby Blow. All rights reserved.

Share your thoughts on Linkedin, FacebookTwitter or log in to one of your accounts below to comment.