Hope and Trust: Essential Parts of Our Psychological Capital

These are difficult and uncertain times. The Corona monster still has a major grip on us worldwide and has not yet been defeated. Strict (international) measures have been taken to contain the outbreak as much as possible. Nevertheless, the virus ‘pops up’ again and again regionally. And the monster doesn’t just threaten our health! As a result of the measures taken, the virus leaves a deep trail of economic destruction worldwide.

These are anxious and stressful times. Many people, both young and old, are facing the same questions: Will the virus get me too? When will this misery end? Will I still have a job? Can we all manage financially? Is my company going bankrupt? What does our future look like for us and our children? In times like this, panic, fear and despair are rampant. You can safely say that, in addition to the Corona and economic virus, there is also a third virus: the fear virus.

Fear is a bad counselor

Well, I am a born optimist by nature, I always see positive elements in the darkness, but I always want to have it made concrete. I also know that fear is a very bad counselor. It seems like a cliché, but true. It really doesn’t help you and it will get you anywhere. Instead of panic, tension, fear and despair, I prefer to focus on the other end of the spectrum: Hope and trust.

That, in this misery, is of course easier said than done, I hear you say. That is true, but fear only produces stagnation (freeze), run away behavior (flight) and wasted and negative energy (fight). Fear has a gloomy voice that sticks into your head and tells you how naive, dumb and unrealistic you are to think it will ever work out. It fuels your desire for the “good time”, the situation before all this misery. Or it makes you focus on what went wrong or what trouble is yet to come. It will also not fail to point out to you, for example, that other people are better off than you!

Hope and Trust help us further!

Where fear and despair make you stop, hope and trust can actually get you moving. And, considered very practically, this gives you much more, and you will find the ‘exit’ much easier.

In hard times it is difficult to keep hope in the future. But hope is precisely what helps us through those uncertain times. By definition, hope has a perspective, a goal, something to look forward to. Call it the other side. Hope is therefore also what brings us to that other side. Because we trust that it will work out, it will work out well, and we will make it to the other side. Hope and trust are part of the essential intrinsic wealth that we have as humans. Hope and trust are part of our intrinsic psychological capital. A wealth that we all have; every human being. But with some, it apparently first has to be mined a little further in order for this capital to yield optimal returns.

Hoping and trusting that things will work out does not mean that you don’t have to do anything, that you can lay back and wait until things are going well. On the contrary; It’s hard work. You will have to take action!

Actively hope and trust

What can you do now to rekindle hope and increase confidence?

a. See the world consciously and positively

It’s a cliché, but look at what’s going GOOD and what you DO have. In general, life is not just a trough of tears. Think about what is going well, what you do have, what is positive in your life, what gives you support and guidance. I’m sure you’ll feel a lot better by then; much stronger and more powerful to meet the “challenges of life”.

b. Consider your talents

Take the time to realize what you are good at, what your true talents are and where your strengths lie. When you feel hopeless, you often feel powerless too. But you are not. You can move mountains in the right state of mind. And you know that too. You just have to bring the feeling back. What are you good at? What have you achieved so far? A tip: it are often the small things that matter and which are beautiful. It really doesn’t have to be major world improvements.

c. Give yourself a pat on the back regularly

You can do a lot more than you think and when you look back on your life you more often faced misery and difficult issues. You came out there too. Often by (consciously or unconsciously) taking many small steps and taking action. Pat yourself on the back for every step (no matter how small) you took toward the exit or the other site.

d. Examine your fears

To revive hope, it is good to examine your expectations and fears. What are the thought patterns that underlie it? Do you compare yourself a lot with other people? Do you want someone’s approval? Is something not going as fast as you would like? Research the answers to these types of questions for yourself and discuss it with your partner, family or friends.

e. Think in possibilities

Fear has the nasty quality of paralyzing and destroying your hope. As a result, you no longer see which possibilities there are and the reason why something could not get the upper hand. Take each day as it comes and focus on the aspects of your life that you DO have control over and the actions that you CAN take.

f. Don’t be too hard on yourself

If you don’t like it anymore, take a break. Stop what you were doing for a moment. And don’t worry too much about it either. No “must”! Not now! Don’t be so hard on yourself! Give yourself time to change your mind. That can give you a lot of space and clarity. Pleasant activities can rekindle that fire inside and give you the gentleness and energy you need. Getting a breath of fresh air on the beach, going outside for a nice walk, a good bike ride, a fun games night or an inspiring (online) course can be just what gives you new strength; which gets things rolling and gets things going.

g. Accept that you don’t know the route either

Nobody knows the exact route to better times. So neither do you! Know that setbacks don’t have to be negative, they are like signage. Setbacks can help you simply choose the right route. And if you can’t turn left here, there is always another side road ahead. Don’t be blind to how things should go and what the route should be.

h. Hold on and keep trying

The most complicated situations provide the most meaningful experiences. Disgusting but true. What is your lesson? If you can see that, then it has already happened: you are already wiser, stronger, already smarter than you were before. The only thing that can undermine hope is to give up. And, giving up is not an option! You have the opportunity to make something out of it, something different, something better. And if it seems that it will never get better, remember: everything changes. Everything. Hope is about seeing possibilities in the outside world and in yourself. It’s about trust that things will work out anyway. And if it doesn’t go the way you would like today, remember: “Just try again tomorrow.”

i. Take action

Setbacks and crises occur in everyone’s life. You’re not the only one. And no one will ever say that it is easy to get up again. But waiting passively for “roadside assistance” or doing nothing at all are not realistic options! As a result, you sink deeper into your problems and you get stuck in that setback. You don’t have to solve everything quickly at once, as long as you take action. It is good to face the situation realistically and determine how you can respond to it as good as possible, one step at the time and explore your options step by step.

j. Practice with your psychological capital

Years of research has shown that the qualities of optimism, hope, resilience and (self) confidence (together the psychological capital) make a person crisis-resistant. Someone who has (further) developed these qualities delivers better work performance, experiences less stress and anxiety and feels happier. You can increase this psychological capital by practicing these four properties. Investigate for each property what the true and deeper value is for you. Of course, it doesn’t help to sit down and hope for better times. It is much more effective to actively hope. Two elements are important when exercising with your psychological capital:

  • Positive motivation

    You must have positive motivation for a certain goal. Namely, what you hope for must be of value to you. If not, then you don’t really hope for it. If you do find it important, it motivates you to work towards it and strengthens your willpower.

  • Active hope

    You must have ideas for possible routes to achieve your goal. A concrete idea about this automatically gives more confidence that you can get there. You are therefore more optimistic: you feel that you have an influence.

Example

Suppose your relationship is over and you hope to meet a new partner. How do you actively deal with that wish with hope? The first step is to ask yourself, “Why is this valuable and why do I want to work towards this?” That awareness alone helps to be more hopeful, it gives you stronger motivation. Focus on reasons that give you energy. Imagine that you would like someone to share your life with, and eventually have children with, that motivates more than just wanting a relationship because you fear loneliness. Then consider concretely how you can get such a relationship, because then your confidence in realizing your goal will increase. And when your plans give you confidence that they could ultimately lead to success, it makes you more hopeful.

Good luck