Hope: Can it be painful?

Picture by: Thinking (2015). Thinking Words.

Hope is a complicated feeling. It has the power to lift people up but can also be hard for some people to believe. It is when we are at our lowest point, that we need some hope, and it is in those darkest moments, that we do not believe we can be hopeful again.


Hope – “The feeling of expectation and a desire for something to happen. A feeling of trust and belief for the future.” – Cambridge Dictionary.

Hope can be both a positive and negative feeling for people to experience. Positive in that it gives people something to believe in and negative in that when people give-up…it gives them the opportunity to carry on fighting even if they do not want to.

Sometimes hope can be painful too and it will be explained further below.

Can you relate?

Hope; it can be invigorating, healing and comforting, but it is painful, because when you choose hope, you actively know that you may be let down over and over again, therefore, you are kind of taking a gamble. While hope can provide you with enthusiasm, vision and peace…deep down inside, you also know what you may be wrong. Your situation may not get better and you may be let down again. The continual let down from people seems a lot more painful if you emotionally have far to fall. So, sometimes it seems easier to just not hope at all and to just be okay with your current situation, no matter how dark that place is.

Hope involves an element of fighting, but what if we have no fight left in us to be able to hope?

The Opposites of Hope:

Hope can be both a positive and negative feeling depending on how you look at it. See below for explanations on the opposites of hope:


Hope is the desire for something combined with an anticipation of it happening. To hope for something is to make a claim about something’s significance to us, and so to make a claim about ourselves. Hope is an expression of faith for the future, and the foundation for more practical dispositions such as patience, determination and courage. It provides us not only with aims, but the motivation to achieve those aims. Hope makes your present situation a lot more palatable and the future easier to bear. 

Our hopes are the strands that run through our life, shedding optimism on our struggles and setbacks, enabling our successes, strengths and weaknesses. 


One opposite of hope is fear, which is the desire for something not to happen combined with the anticipation of it happening. Inherent in every hope is a fear, and in every fear, a hope. Other opposites of hope are hopelessness and despair, which is an agitated form of hopelessness.

Contrary to the above, hopelessness is both a cause and a symptom of depression, and within the context of depression, a strong predictor of suicide. Hope is pleasant as the anticipation of a desire is pleasant, but hope is also painful because the desired circumstance has not yet been made available.

Realistic or reasonable hopes are more likely to lift us up and move us forward, however, false hopes are likely to prolong our torment, leading us to an inevitable frustration, disappointment and resentment. The pain of harbouring hopes, and the greater pain of having them explains why most people tend to be modest in their hoping.

Is False Hope Worse Than No Hope?

No hope is almost like a mental numbness, a void that may never be filled, however, false hope crushes most feelings of acceptance. It continues the feeling of being alone.

It is better to have no expectation than to expect something that will never happen, therefore, no hope would be better than false hope.

What do you think about this? Do you prefer to have false hope or no hope? Both can be equally as crushing in the end.


Hope is complicated. It has the power to lift us up, as well as destroy our confidence. However, hope is seen as a positive to many and is something used to keep us striving forward.

Thank you for reading.

What are your thoughts?

I am a freelance writer and aspiring author. My passion lies within UK adult education, stigmatised topics and mental health, however, I aim to keep an open mind.

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