This year reminds me of the Greek myth about Zeus creating a jar filled with all the evils of the world. Part of an act of vengeance, the jar was given to someone called Pandora who opened it and loosed those evils upon humankind before being able to shut it again. It was later mistranslated as a ‘box’, hence Pandora’s Box.

What interests me about the story however is that one small frail creature stays behind when everything else has gone. It was Hope. Even Hesiod, writing this story some 700 years before the common era, understood the value of even a small and frail amount of hope that stays behind when all else is chaos.

2020 has certainly seen a Pandora’s Boxful of evils unleashed on the world and doubtless there is more to come. Glimmers of hope however have captured our imaginations much more strongly than the evils of Covid, race hatred, war, famine, wildfires, terror and political mistrust. The capacity to look to what can be, allows us to continue to survive and thrive when the odds seem so heavily stacked against us: acts of kindness and generosity, fundraising, portrait painting health workers, food deliveries, the gesture of Patrick Hutchinson, and then of course there is the vaccine.

Hypnotherapy clients sometimes feel those odds are overwhelmingly against them. They often come to a therapist because they believe there is no hope left: that hope has fled the box along with everything else.

In his book The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse, written in 2019, and strangely prescient, Charlie Mackesy has the boy ask ‘“What is the bravest thing you have ever said?” “Help”, said the horse.’

It is ironic that the very action of making an appointment to see a hypnotherapist sets in motion that small frail creature. It is in itself a very present act of hope when any of us ask for help. We know that by reaching out to someone, there is hope that things can and will be different. It takes courage of course but things are not hopeless when we are prepared to ask for help. Not at all.