Action 50

I use hope by establishing and pursuing doable positive goals and use my abilities to achieve them. I use my “hidden strengths” and “buried treasures,” to survive and thrive, “in spite of” the great odds that I wouldn’t succeed. I strengthen my self-efficacy or my belief in my ability to cope successfully with difficulties. I translate my “know how” into coping tools.

Hope is a powerful antidote to helplessness and despair.

An interesting way psychotherapists nurture hope is to use what is called the “miracle question.” (Metcalf, 2004).

“Imagine when you go to sleep at night, a miracle happens and when you wake up the next morning, things are different in a good way. Since you are sleeping, you do not know that a miracle has happened and that whatever problems you are working on has been solved. What do you suppose you will notice different the next morning that will tell you there has been a miracle? What exactly would have changed when you wake up that would alert you that a miracle has indeed happened? How would you be thinking and behaving differently? What would other folks notice? Now, what might you do to reach these goals? What small initial steps can you take to get there? What does this tell you about your strengths, your coping abilities, your survival skills, your abilities to live your ‘in spite of’ story?”

On a Scale of 1 to 10, how hopeful are you that things can improve in your life, with 1 being not at all hopeful and 10 being most hopeful. What needs to happen for you to feel one point closer to your goal?

Hinge Questions:

  • “What have you done to cope and survive in the past?”
  • “What has kept you going?”
  • “Is there anything you have done in the past that worked that you can use now?”
  • “What would need to happen to help you be more hopeful about the future?”
  • “What keeps you going in difficult and challenging times?”
  • “Whom can you rely on during difficult times?”
  • “What resources do you possess that can give you hope for the future?”
  • “Do you have a vision of your future?”
  • “What do you imagine you will be doing in one year from now? Five years from now?”
  • “What do you want your future to look like?”
  • “Are you taking steps to accomplish these things?”
  • “How could you get yourself to the point of initiating some small, but meaningful changes?”
  • “Whom can you share this game plan with?”
  • “How will you know if you are making progress?”

Remember: hope begets hope.

Looking for the positives allow people to gain a sense of control and mastery and help them restore their sense of self-esteem, and foster a hopeful outlook. As we will see in Action #62 and Action #65, there is value in learning to use the language of hope and becoming. Think hopefully.

Quotable Quotes

“I view my distress not as evidence of mental disorders, but as part of the human condition.”

“Bad things happen to me, but good outcomes often follow.”

“Remember that cracks let the light shine through.”

“I can see my old self through the eyes of my new self.”

“I can shift my perspective and share my story of survival, and my story of change.”

“Life is not about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.”

“I should not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”

“How I choose to be today is not predetermined by who I was yesterday.”

“I remind myself that trauma and distress can push people to develop in positive

ways, to develop new levels of psychological resilience, develop new survival skills, greater self-knowledge, self-appreciation, increased empathy and a more broad and complex view of life.”

“Trauma can result in growth.”

“I stay motivated in tough times by keeping my personal and career goals in mind.”

Action 51