The Psychology Of Hope and Fear

Joyce McFadden 

Both hope and fear are great motivators, and they both have the capacity to promote growth in us, but hope creates space in the mind and heart. Fear, more often than not, restricts it.

Just think of how you feel in your own body when you’re afraid – you tense up and go on vigilant alert, like an animal bracing to fight or flee. Let’s say you’re walking down a dark deserted street and you hear someone following you. The instant you become aware of it your body and your mind go into hyper drive and all your energy is devoted to “Am I in danger? What do I do? Do I turn and confront? Do I run? If I confront, then what? If I run, where do I go?” Your entire world constricts to focus on the situation.

When you feel hopeful, your body’s relaxed. You feel generous and open, not only with others, but with yourself too. Your world expands with ideas for how the hope could gather even more momentum. You feel motivated forward.

If fear takes too much hold of a personality, rigidity of thought and paranoia enter. When this happens on a national level the same trend is seen. You end up with things like racism, sexism and hate. When hope is experienced in the extreme in a personality, a sense of being un-tethered to reality allows delusion to enter, and on a national level this puts a culture in danger of complacency and unprepared-ness.

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