Holistic medicine

Confidence - finding hope

Confidence - finding hope

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Draw hope again

In times of the corona pandemic, we hope that it will end someday. What is it anyway, hope? Hope means confidence and a positive expectation of what is to come - without knowing that this good perspective is emerging. The opposite is despair, resignation and depression - the point when all hope ends. In the psychologist, it means cognitive attunement to an upcoming goal, or an emotion, a form of felt optimism. How do we create hope?

  • Hope can be an active as well as a passive state.
  • The former Czech head of state, Vaclac Hawel, separated hope from optimism. He said, "Hope is not optimism, it is not the belief that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something will make sense - regardless of how it turns out."
    Hawel introduces an essential aspect here that sheds light on the psychic structure of the hope. Anyone who is resigned or, in a clinical sense, caught in a severe depression is not only pessimistic, but also sees no sense in what he is doing, in his life - in the world. .

  • Hope can promote the body's self-healing.
  • Those who actively hope are looking for unconventional ways to achieve their goal. Active hope motivates.
  • Those who passively hope, on the other hand, block their own activity, which could improve a precarious situation.

Messianic thinking

The Jews believed and hoped that a person, the Messiah, would announce the coming Kingdom of God on earth, a time when the Jews would cope with their social justice and would drive the Roman occupiers out of the country. While despair is the opposite of hope, fear and worry accompany our hopes.

Everyday hopes

Hope is rarely absolute. We hope modestly in everyday life. Children hope for gifts, older people hope for a better job, young people hope for attractive sexual partners, sick people hope for healing. Such hopes, which is also part of it, are disappointed.

Christian hope

Meaningfulness sheds light on religion in which hope has a central position in the cosmic and human sense: Christianity. When it finally prevailed, Europe and West Asia suffered the Little Ice Age of late antiquity, and the first great plague pandemic took people away in the Roman Empire. Here the Christians put their hope for eternal life in the kingdom of heaven in the place of a sober helplessness against the overpowering natural disasters. And this religious meaning was extremely successful.

Hope in philosophy

In philosophy, hope also means an inner attitude towards challenges. Whoever hopes accepts what he cannot change and at the same time trusts to do it. This hope appeals to one's own inner attitude. Politically and ethically, this can also mean staying true to your own conviction so that you don't lose hope because you know that what you stand for, suffer or die is right.

Hope and suspect

Hope can also be synonymous with conjecture. If a researcher has reasonable hope of developing a new drug, it means there is evidence of an effect. But it is not certain. But if someone has a positive expectation, but the reality opposes it, we speak of false hopes.

Hope as a placebo

Hope leads to the release of hormones and messenger substances and resembles the positive self-suggestion or the taking of placebos, i.e. dummy medications that do not contain any real active ingredients, but whose effect the people concerned believe.

What is hope today?

Current definitions of hope agree on the essentials that

  • Hope is in the future
  • wants to see positive things there
  • the hoping person does not see his hopes as completely unrealistic, although he may well be aware of major difficulties
  • Hope means inner strength when it connects with an inner attitude that fills your psyche with meaning
  • religious beliefs, on the other hand, associate hope with suffering and a reward that comes from outside,
  • In a religious context, hope can also mean believing in and hoping to be supported by supernatural powers: here, hope goes hand in hand with the idea of ​​salvation.

Hope motivates

In psychology, hope is an important motor of motivation. Hopelessness diminishes the commitment to stand up for a cause, because this engagement seems pointless - hopeless. Hope, on the other hand, increases motivation and can also lead to action and thus to making projects successful.

Desire meets conviction meets action

Furthermore, from a psychological point of view, hope is an expectation, whereby the psychological schools are divided, whether the focus is on conscious-cognitive expectation or the expectation emotion. Imagination is important: people create designs in the brain from their dreams, plans and ideas. With “good hope”, these are positive, and this enables one to work towards it consciously or unconsciously. The desire connects with the conviction and this with the action.

However, there are also hopes when the hoping cannot influence what is happening. for a feeling of hope it is also that the wishing has little or no influence on this happening. This is the case, for example, for a doctor who says about a cancer patient that there is hope and at the same time believes that the cancer will heal and wants this cure, but knows that his own options for contributing to it are limited.

Hope means being free

Active hope is freedom. If you resign, you think you know that the future is black. It is neither open nor waiting. The hope is patient and attentive. Hope is always social: Without community there is no hope - no “We can do it”.

How can hope have a positive effect?

According to studies, active hope has a positive effect on professional success and promotes the achievement of high goals, both at university and in sports. Hope promotes well-being even in precarious situations. It mobilizes the body's self-healing similar to a placebo.

Is hope naive?

Someone who has “false hopes” is considered naive. But hope doesn't have to be naive. Confidence also means knowing the reality and still seeing the future as open. The hopeful knows that he is in danger - in contrast to the pure optimist, he does not hide threats.

So if I hope that a different state is possible in the future, the ideas and thoughts of what I can do to achieve this state are slowly but surely dripping.

How can we gain confidence?

An inner attitude combined with humane ethics is a good condition to hope for. Working in projects that help people to be better strengthens hope. Hope also means finding meaning in life (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


  • Bloch, Ernst: Work edition; Volume 5, Part 2: The Principle of Hope in Five Parts, Volume 2: Chapters 33-42, Suhrkamp, ​​1985
  • Snyder, Charles R .: Handbook of Positive Psychology, Oxford University Press, 2001

Video: Finding Hope in Hopelessness. Peta Murchinson. TEDxSydney (October 2022).