Cultivating Hope

By: Jeff Mortimore, RSI Community Connector


I have been digging into the concept of hope lately. I must admit that I haven’t always thought that hope is the best strategy. Instead, I felt like hope was the final straw. A desperate attempt to reach out for a solution. Instead, after digging a little deeper, I have found that hope is really a mindset, and in order for us to build this skill, we must first focus on our current ways of thinking. 

These are certainly interesting times we live in, unprecedented as they say. We’ve needed to work extra hard to manage our emotions well. We’ve also had our fair share of mixed feelings during this time. Feelings such as anger, righteousness, blame, fear, and sadness can wash over us throughout the day, and the roller coaster of emotion can fray the edges of hope.

Just when you feel like you’ve found your rhythm, life can throw a wrench into the situation. Life is full of interruption and change, some positive and some negative, if not downright devastating. So, how do we really learn about hope, and how do we practically apply it? One of the key processes in developing hope is that when we are faced with a situation we are not happy with or that hurts us, we need to understand that we cannot change the situation, but we can change how we REACT to it!

The first key to developing hope is to know and understand the situation. Knowledge is power, and stopping the emotional discourse and negative dialogue helps put us on the path to a healthier start. Knowledge is a very powerful tool to help you move forward, and the more you know about the situation and different perspectives, the easier it is for you to take the next steps with more clarity and objectivity.  

You’ve probably heard the phrase “trust your gut” before. This is actually more realistic than it sounds, and here’s why: We have receptors in our guts that are wired to our brains. These receptors help trigger safety reactions to fear, happiness, and even intuition. Think of the last argument you were in and how it might have made you feel sick to your stomach. Or, think of the last time you had to take on a huge endeavor such as public speaking, running a marathon, or going to the dentist. Did you experience the feeling of butterflies in your stomach? Your gut will often react before your brain has had a chance to absorb and digest all of the information. Its reaction is often the right one, as it doesn’t rely on the chemical reactions of fear or happiness, it just responds to the situation and the information presented.

Ultimately, hope is really about action. When faced with a tough situation, start by looking at the problem and writing down what steps need to be taken to help change or resolve the issue. This will help to remove your mindset from the negative and into a more positive action-focused mind frame. This may take some time and practice, but it’s important to persevere. When you begin to look a bit deeper into hope, you will begin to see the seeds of resilience, self-awareness, confidence and, yes, happiness! Mastering hope is a learned skill. Hope is always an option, and one I encourage you to use in these times when we are bombarded with messages of despair. 

Learn more about Jeff’s work at RSI on our Community Connections page.