I remember years ago being told off by someone for saying that I hoped I’d be able to handle something that was coming up for me. ‘Hope aways implies there’s a doubt, and you need to think positively and say that you can do this.’

For sure we sometimes trip ourselves up by creating our own seeds of doubt, so that we won’t be too disappointed if we don’t succeed in something. Telling ourselves we can do whatever it is is a powerful tool that feeds our unconscious with the instruction to find a way, and I have used it a lot in my life, to good effect.

But more recently, several different things have reminded me that it is important to acknowledge that hope can also be useful. We all know the difference between situations where we probably can do it, and those where the odds are against us. And when the odds are against us, hope can shift the balance somewhat and make it possible to do it.

A simple example is being out somewhere and seeing big rain clouds coming over. Saying, ‘I hope I can get inside before it pours with rain’ will automatically quicken your pace and give you a better chance. Saying, ‘I’m going to get soaked’ has the opposite effect. We give up even trying to beat the rain. And of course, the way the Ukrainians are dealing with the Russian invasion is a prime example of hope giving strength and perseverance.

Our thoughts are instructions to our unconscious mind on how to behave. They affect our attitudes, our reactions. So if it doesn’t seem likely that you will succeed, don’t just give up. At least find some hope and give yourself a better chance, increase the odds in your favour.

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