Why I am interested in “hope”- and perhaps you are too?

Hope – a word laden with significance, yet its essence is often elusive, its impact profound. When I embarked on the journey of creating my life coaching business, hope lay at the heart of my intention. Like many others, I had experienced moments in my life where hope seemed distant, where the possibility of a better tomorrow felt out of reach. It was during these times that I realized the transformative power of hope and the profound impact it can have on one’s life.

My own coaching journey began from a place of feeling ‘hopeless,’ grappling with mental health challenges and searching for a pragmatic, self-empowering approach to navigate them. As I articulated in my initial business case for Dr Sophie Coaching, the most significant promise I could offer my clients was the restoration of hope in their future and the discovery of a purposeful life. This promise was born out of my own experience, my journey of regaining hope and finding purpose through coaching.

Yet, as I delved deeper into the concept of hope, I encountered perspectives that challenged its traditional narrative. Brooke Castillo’s perspective on ‘hope being a problem’ was particularly thought-provoking. It prompted me to question the role of hope in our lives, its efficacy as a catalyst for change, and the potential costs associated with relying on hope alone.

Intrigued by these contrasting viewpoints, I embarked on an exploration of hope – what it truly means, how it influences our experiences, and whether it holds the key to unlocking our potential. Today, I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore three distinct perspectives on hope, each offering valuable insights into its multifaceted nature and its significance in shaping the human experience

Hope as a Catalyst for Change

In a Mel Robbins’ recent interview on the show “Diary of a CEO”, the pivotal role of hope in instigating change is illuminated. I liked how Robbins articulates that hope serves as the impetus for transformation, particularly in moments of stagnation or despair. It is the glimmer of possibility that propels individuals towards new beginnings, nudging them to embark on uncharted paths despite the odds stacked against them.

As Robbins eloquently describes, hope acts as a beacon in the darkness, illuminating the way forward when all seems lost. It is the catalyst that spurs individuals to challenge the status quo, to dare to dream of a brighter tomorrow. Without hope, the inertia of resignation can prevail, stifling growth and perpetuating cycles of despair.

The Paradox of Hope: A Double-Edged Sword

Contrastingly, in Episode 153 of the Life Coach School podcast, hope is painted in a different hue – one tinged with caution and scepticism. Here, hope is portrayed as a passive force, one that breeds complacency rather than action. The argumentation in this episode goes that while hope may inspire fleeting optimism, it can lull us into a state of passivity, and making us trapped in a cycle of waiting and wanting.

The podcast challenges the notion that hope is synonymous with progress, asserting instead that true empowerment lies in relinquishing hope in favour of decisive action. By embracing responsibility and agency, individuals transcend the limitations imposed by hope, paving the way for tangible transformation and meaningful change.

The Power of Hope in Positive Psychology

Turning now our attention to the realm of positive psychology, hope emerges as a potent force for resilience and growth. Defined as the determination to achieve goals coupled with a belief in the existence of multiple pathways to success, hope serves as a driving force for human endeavor.

This definition of hope draws heavily from the work of Ilona Boniwell and Aneta D. Tunariu, prominent figures in the field of positive psychology who have extensively studied the concept’s role in human flourishing.

Additionally, it’s essential to understand the components of hope highlighted in this definition:

  • Agency: This refers to an individual’s belief in their ability to initiate and sustain action toward achieving their goals. It embodies a sense of self-efficacy and empowerment, driving individuals to take proactive steps in pursuit of their aspirations. (Bandura, 1982)
  • Pathways Thinking: Pathways thinking involves the capacity to generate and navigate various routes or strategies toward goal attainment. It encompasses flexible thinking and problem-solving skills, allowing individuals to adapt their approach in response to challenges and obstacles encountered along the way. (Snyder, 2002)

These components, when combined, form the basis of hope theory in positive psychology, highlighting its dynamic and multifaceted nature. In this context, individuals high in hope not only set ambitious goals but also possess the strategic acumen to navigate the myriad obstacles encountered along the way.

Moreover, research in positive psychology underscores the profound impact of hope on overall well-being, with high levels of hope correlating with greater self-esteem, positive emotions, and effective coping strategies. Far from being a passive sentiment, hope therefore emerges as a potent catalyst for personal and collective flourishing.

Conclusion: Navigating the Tapestry of Hope

In the tapestry of human experience, hope weaves a complex and nuanced thread – one that embodies both the promise of possibility and the pitfalls of passivity.

As we navigate the labyrinth of hope, let us heed its call to action, harnessing its transformative potential to shape a future brimming with possibility and purpose.

Reach out today and discover how coaching can empower you to embrace hope as a force for lasting change.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Sophie


Inspired by:

Bandura, A. (1982). Self-efficacy mechanism in human agency. American Psychologist, 37(2), 122-147.

Boniwell, I., & Tunariu, A. D. (2019). Chapter 5 on “Optimism, Explanatory Style, and Hope”. In Positive Psychology. Theory, research and Applications. (Second Edition). McGraw Hill.

Peterson, C. (2000). The future of optimism. American Psychologist, 55(1), 44–55. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.44

Robbins, M. (Host). (2023, December 4). Diary of a CEO interview Mel Robbins [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEo48f_Rs4w

Scheier, M. F., & Carver, C. S. (2009). Optimism. In S. J. Lopez (Ed.), Oxford library of psychology. Oxford University Press.

Snyder, C. R. (2002). Hope theory: Rainbows in the mind. Psychological Inquiry, 13(4), 249–275. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327965PLI1304_01

The Life Coach School. (2017, February 16). LCS podcast nb 153 “Hope is a Problem” [Audio podcast episode]. Retrieved from https://thelifecoachschool.com/podcast/153/