The Case for Hope: An Overview of Hope Theory

The Case for Hope: An Overview of Hope Theory


3 minute read

    In recent years lessons on positive thinking has become rather taboo.  Critics state that the recommendation to just to "think positive" negates some individuals' circumstances or socioeconomic statuses.  They contend that positive thinking is only for the privileged and that any other perspective encourages what they call "false hope".  It's called false hope because they believe statistics and/or circumstances dictate that there is no use having hope because not many people in their situation ever make out of it.  However, new research called, Hope Theory, now challenges that perspective. 
    I have to admit that some of my personal growth has been to be genuine and real with myself and experiences.  Some things are just awful, sad and hurtful.  Sometimes tears, anger and all the strong emotion are necessary to work through it.  This is not normally what we're taught to do though.  People tend to have a hard time watching others suffer and will often say or do things to save themselves the discomfort of the experience.
    Before describing Hope Theory further, it's important to say what it is NOT.  It is not saying that sadness, anger or other strong emotions should never exist or occur.  What it IS saying is that if one wants success or self-esteem, certain elements must exist. 
    Based on substantial research on the psychology of people who accomplish goals or who pursue optimism, several key factors exist.  First, hope must be present.  One must have the belief that the goal can occur.  Next, these individuals, often referred to as high hope people, often have created multiple pathways in order to achieve their goals. Finally, the individuals have agency, or the motivation, to accomplish the goal. 

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    Often, many so-called advocates will state that telling a person to have hope that their circumstances will improve is almost immoral.  They will often turn to statistics to show that the person has little or no ability to really change their station. Here in lies the dilemma.  It is true that one may have some degree of hope and not accomplish a goal.  However, another truth exists.  Every person who accomplishes a goal has to have hope.  The goal will certainly never occur without it.  Training people to be realists and accept a lesser fate ensures that they will never accomplish anything above what statistics determined.  It doesn't take into account unique talents, developed skill, drive, optimism and most importantly, hope. 
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