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Why Steady Hope: The Longer Story and How It Applies to Mental Health



Hope is one of the bedrocks of our practice. So much so that it is included in the name.


I (Kim) have found myself drawn to this word for the entirety of my adulthood. I have found quotes, blog posts, and song lyrics saved on my phone and computer dating back to 2010 and older.


What is it about this word that jumps out at me?


It can seem like such a simple word. I mean, it’s only four letters.


But in reality, hope is one of those concepts that we talk about in terms all of the time, like “full of hope” or “feeling hopeless.” It’s interesting to me that hope is often talked about in these opposite ways without considering what hope looks like in the middle of “full” and “less.”


The Definition of Hope

Webster defines hope as “to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment.”


Cultivating hope is linked to perseverance — which means to be steadfast toward something.


Thus the word steady: “constant in feeling, principle, purpose, or attachment,” like steady friends. It’s another word for “dependable.”


The Concept of Hope

Hope is a word that is used often in our everyday language and, to many of us, has different definitions and understanding. In my mind I see hope and trust as similar words - words that we use regularly. It is when the going gets tough or someone breaks our trust or we feel hopeless that we often try to actually understand what the word (concept) means.


A few key points about hope:

I think each of us personality-wise are prone to experience different levels of hope more naturally.


I recognize that life circumstances can greatly impact our levels of hope.


Hope is not purely an emotion.


It’s a way of thinking.


We can choose to have hope.


We have some choices of what we are hoping for.


We consciously and unconsciously choose to put our hope in things.


If we aren’t careful, and we place too much of our identity into what we hope for, we are bound to be disappointed.


When we are hoping for something, often it pushes us to do hard things because we are hopeful for what will happen on the other side.


Hope is complex. It’s not a simple, straightforward, single-facet-of-our-life concept.


Hope usually involves our whole being.


I was recently listening to a book by Brené Brown and heard her discuss the concept of hope. She recounted:


I always thought of hope as an emotion - like a warm feeling of optimism and possibility. I was wrong. I was shocked to discover that hope is not an emotion; it's a way of thinking or a cognitive process. Emotions play a supporting role, but hope is really a thought process made up of what Snyder (C.R. Snyder) calls a trilogy of goals, pathways, and agency.

Brown goes on to explain Snyder’s work of how we cultivate hope in simpler terms:

  1. Decide where we want to go by setting realistic or SMART goals.

  2. Know where we want to go and learn to tolerate disappointment, be flexible, and come up with routes of how to get there.

  3. Believe that we can!

Hope is a combination of setting goals, having the tenacity and perseverance to pursue them, and believing in our own abilities. Using this definition and the findings in his research- we note that hope can be learned. That we aren’t born with a finite amount of hope. (Thank goodness!)


I love this research result because I believe that we can grow our hope. I remember this story from the Bible where it talks about having a mustard seed of faith, and how that can lead to mountains moving. Imagine if our mustard seed of hope grew larger; how much life change that could bring.


The Practice of Hope

How do these definitions apply to the work that we desire to do→


As therapists, our goal and professional standard is to be steady and dependable. Our team works to be as consistent as we can with our availability, dependable with our therapy office spaces, and steady with how we are as the person in the room. We want you to know and believe that we are for you. We are paying attention to the relationship in the room.


Many clients who seek therapy are coming to therapy because they believe that there is another way of living: either a way of living in which they know themselves better, are more connected to their emotions, experience less discomfort, or want better relationships (to name a few). The active choice of deciding to pursue counseling shows that there is some level of hope or desire for the future in order to commit time, money, and energy into sessions. I am not saying that all therapy clients have an abundance of hope for the future when they start; but, rather, I am saying that the step of scheduling an appointment is actually one sign of hope.


I love this quote from Morgan Harper Nichols:


Hope is not wishful thinking. Hope is the audacity to believe that after everything you have been through, there is more ahead of you. It’s the courage to trust that as long as you’re still breathing, you have not missed out on what was meant for you.

We help hold you steady so you won’t give up hope.

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