Lending Hope

Emma has been reading Charlotte’s Web every night for weeks. She pulls it off her nightstand immediately after I kiss her goodnight. In the morning, I usually find it lying next to her, wrapped in the covers. She finishes it only to begin again. 

“You really love that book,” I commented as she pulled it toward her last night.

“Oh no!” she replied. “I don’t like it at all. I’m so sad about what happens to Charlotte. I keep reading it thinking maybe the next time I get to that part, it will be different. That Charlotte won’t have to die and she can live and still be best friends with Wilbur.” 

She returned to the pages of her book. Her eyes scanned the words, and her little hand flipped to the next page with anticipation. Emma didn’t see Charlotte’s fate as it was – she saw it each time anew. As it might be. With each new read, she carried the hope that something might be different.

That’s a helpful way to approach people who seem stuck, repeating the same behavior over and over again. Even when change seems most unlikely, viewing others with hope and optimism makes a difference. Because unlike Charlotte, the ends of our stories are unknown. The next page has yet to be written.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.