When trying to encourage hope for a loved one, friend, or colleague, there are several things to keep in mind.
First, people hope differently; how and what you personally hope for, may not be the same as the person which you are trying to help. We rarely know what to say in difficult situations, so we often resort to platitudes or general statements like, “I know everything is going to be fine,” or, “everything happens for a reason.” These comments often seem insensitive to the individual who is struggling to maintain hope.
Perhaps what is most important, is trying to understand what your loved one or friend is hoping for and then respecting that hope. Never assume or say, “I know just how you feel.” Even if you have had a similar experience, you simply can’t know what their thoughts and feelings are. Also, regardless of their hope goal, it is not your place to try and diminish what you consider an unrealistic hope or to warn them not “to get their hopes up.” Each person has the right to decide on what and how they will hope.
It is also not the time to try and impart (or impose) your own philosophy or religious beliefs on the person you are trying to help. Statements like, “God never gives us more than we can handle,” or, “there must be a lesson in this someplace,” are particularly unhelpful. The following ten phrases may be more useful for expressing your willingness to serve as a resource and hope advocate.
Here Are 10 Key Phrases I use to Encourage Hope in Others:
- Tell me what you are hoping for and how I can best support you in it.
- There are many of us in your corner. Together we will help you get through this.
- Please don’t give up hope. Your hope may need to change as the situation changes, but there is always hope.
- You may not feel hopeful now, but you can feel hopeful later. Until then, I have enough hope for both of us.
- I know you think you can’t handle this, but you can. I will help you and you can lean on me.
- You have gotten through tough times before, and we will find a way forward in this situation, too.
- Let me help you put together an action plan for your hope. We can figure this out together.
- It is important to always choose hope. Hopelessness only leads to helplessness.
- You may feel you can’t be hopeful any longer, but you can. I will hold your hope and be hopeful for you until you can regain your own hope.
- Sometimes, just our presence, sitting quietly in support, can be the best encouragement and offer of hope. Our presence confirms that we care and that the person struggling with hope is not alone.
Hope is not magical thinking, wishing, or optimism. It is much more important than any of those. Instead, hope is a powerful, complex emotion that can best be defined as a way of thinking, feeling and acting.
Hope may be a personal resource, but it is enhanced when it is done in connection with others.