The Role of Hope in this Work

Hope is a word that is often misused and misunderstood. It’s a word that can feel trite and wishy washy sometimes, and can rub some people the wrong way. Often, we distill hope down to the desire to see a specific outcome. However, hope is much bigger than that. Hope is a powerful force, and one that is necessary for survival.

We just looked at how uncertainty can create opportunity for possibility. Similarly, much more than wishing for a specific outcome, hope is about creating opportunity for possibility. Hope is about finding a wee bit of purpose and meaning so we can get out of bed in the morning. Some might say that hope is as important to our survival as food and water. Hope supports our immune system, and it fuels our cells.

In her book Rising Strong, Brené Brown says;

In my work, I’ve found that moving out of powerlessness, and even despair, requires hope. Hope is not an emotion: It’s a cognitive process – a thought process made up of what researcher C. R. Snyder called the trilogy of ‘goals, pathways, and agency.’ Hope happens when we can set goals, have the tenacity and perseverance to pursue those goals, and believe in our own abilities to act. Snyder also found that hope is learned. (2015)

Courageous Hope

All growth and change whether on the micro or macro level begins with HOPE

Hope is not wishy-washy. It is not the same as wishing on a star. We can water down the meaning when we say things like, “I hope it’s sunny tomorrow.

Hope is wildly courageous. Acting on our hope requires uncertainty and bravery. Disrupting the status quo (personal or societal) is really, really hard.

Hope always involves risk. Always.

Hope ebbs and flows. Sometimes it’s close, sometimes it’s very distant.

Hope is the spark that motivates us to do anything, including simply getting up in the morning or embarking on a big, new adventure. Many people who are lost in despair struggle with basic things like getting up or eating.

Hope involves action and movement. It’s like a muscle we develop that gets stronger as we use it. The birth of hope can often be really humble, but it can grow into a powerful force for change.

Hope is messy. It often goes hand in hand with a battle of sorts – either an internal battle or a societal activism. Battles are messy and scary. (Think of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey work).

Hope is as essential to well-being as food, water, and shelter.

Hope is never solitary. We are deeply interconnected. When one of us loses hope, we all suffer. We can also hold hope for loved ones who have lost theirs.

Hope is contagious. Since we are so interconnected, hope spreads to those around us.

Connection is essential for hope to flourish. Because we are wired for connection and belonging, hope always involves other people. When we are considering movements such as peer support, this means solidarity and working together.

Hope is not the same as optimism or positive thinking. Hope is focused. Opening ourselves up to hope means that pain will likely make itself known to us along our journey. But when we reflect on everything above, we can trust in our resilience.

Nurturing Hope

As you begin this peer support training, you are embarking on a deeply meaningful journey. You are also joining a powerful movement to change the way we support and care for one another. May we all nurture hope within ourselves and may we intentionally and collectively create ecologies that nurture hope in others.


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Post-Secondary Peer Support Training Curriculum Copyright © 2022 by Jenn Cusick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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