I recently posted about the importance of hope and realized that hope, like joy, may be more challenging that we initially think. Because both hope and joy require vulnerability from us. They require positive expectancy that, when not fulfilled, can sometimes lead to hurt and disappointment. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Don’t get your hopes up.”? I have heard that a lot in my life. And what I am realizing now is that this phrase is really the opposite of what I want to model for my kids. I want to model vulnerability. Joy. Hopefulness. Even though there is risk of disappointment.
The interesting thing I learned as I was studying hope was what I found as I explored the antonyms. And before I share, I want for you to consider… what is the opposite of hope for you?
Initially, I thought – “hopeless.” Or perhaps “despair.”
But as I read more about hope, I found some additional opposites of hope to be distrust, doubt, fear, and hatred. I began to ponder. All of those antonyms are fear-based. They perpetuate fear. They encourage negativity. They are the opposite of vulnerability.
You see, to have hope when things are darkest is to be vulnerable enough to share that you are in the dark. And that can be a hard thing to do! But this can also be one of our biggest defining moments as parents. When we share that we are still dreaming and hoping in the darkest times, we are showing our kids that they should never give up. And more importantly, to not be afraid. So as you face challenging times, I believe we must be purposeful with the language we use to describe how we feel during those moments. If you find yourself using phrases like, “It’s never going to get better.” Or “it is always going to be this way.” – Those “always” and “never” phrases are not hope-driven. They share a message of hopelessness. Instead, choose phrases like, “It feels really hard right now, but I know we are strong enough to move forward from here.” Or “I know it is scary, but we both know how hard you work.” Moreover, if you hear your child using “always” or “never” statements, it is important to shift that language for them as well!
Reflect – When I face challenging situations, how do I model the resiliency to stay hopeful? Do I allow my children to see and hear those things from me so they can learn as well? What types of “always” or “never” phrases should I rephrase?