Being hopeful vs getting your hopes up

I’ve missed writing this past week!

Hope. It gets us through difficult situations, it helps us manage painful experiences because we believe it can and will get better. I’ve heard it said that humans would die without hope.

I was watching a film that included a storyline where the character had to undergo an experimental treatment for their disease. The treating physician said to them that they shouldn’t get their hopes up. This made me think… wouldn’t this be the perfect time to have ones hopes up? And, what level of hope constitutes “up” versus just being hopeful in general?

I’ve worked with very sick and dying children and have noticed a difference in the way hope looks for treating an unwell child or adolescent, versus an adult. I think part of the struggle is defining what is being hopeful and what is getting ones hopes up. I believe it is possible to be hopeful of a good outcome without being unrealistic (definition of a ‘good’ outcome would be a whole other post). There’s an association between ‘getting your hopes up” with an unrealistic outcome. Of course, the argument can be made that if we didn’t hope for and imagine things being different, there would be no progress.

What is hope? Sometimes we talk about it like a tangible thing that can be felt, or raised up.
Disney tells us that “Wishes and hopes are the tiny silk ropes to which you attach your dream (…)”
Is it positive thought? Is it a positive way of thinking? Is it a gut feeling that all will work out? Is it our fantasy of our ideal outcome? We don’t typically use it to refer to things that are going to happen for sure. I’ve never said: gee, I hope the sun rises tomorrow. But I might say, I hope to see the sunrise tomorrow.
Where does hope end and action begin? If hope is like putting our wish out there to the Universe, at what point does the wish transform into action (by me, or others) and become reality?
Does hope need to be like a smart goal, this is the outcome I hope for and here’s how and by when it will occur? Does hope inherently have a mystical or faith based property to it because it takes these to make it happen? Maybe that’s what distinguishes it from a goal- that only some of it is out of our hands. I can hope to see the sunrise, make sure I’m awake on time, in an open area facing East- but if the weather changes and clouds are present, it won’t help. I would need the intervention of some wind to clear the sky for me. Perhaps, in the same way, when someone is sick, we can hope for a good outcome, like getting better or a peaceful passing, but we can’t control every factor that would lead to it…and so we send our hope out there to be (heard ?) received by the Universe in hopes (!) of a response leading to our desired outcome.

All that to say, I am hopeful that even if I get my hopes up, my hope will become reality.


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