I’ve only recently began to believe in hope.
Prior to last spring, I didn’t even know that I didn’t believe in hope. I had no idea how meaningless hope was to me.
Yes, there were clues.
For instance, two years ago, I was teaching a How to Thrive During the Holidays workshop and we were practicing connecting to various qualities that would be helpful for us throughout the holiday season.
One of the participants suggested connecting with hope. In my head, I was like, “Hope? Really?”
Out loud, I said: “Ok, hope!”
The other people in the workshop had an experience of hope. I felt nothing.
Sidenote: Generally, when I ask to experience a quality, it shows up. I can feel it. I can easily distinguish gratitude from love from acceptance, etc. I haven’t always been able to do this; it is something I’ve learned to do, a skill I’ve actively cultivated.
Anyway, I asked to experience hope. Nothing.
Looking back, my experience makes perfect sense. Of course I would feel nothing.
At that time, however, I just noticed I felt nothing and instantly forgot about it. Hope hadn’t ever seemed particularly useful for me anyway.
Spring forward one and a half years… to last spring.
I’m participating in a powerful healing ceremony. During this ceremony, I have a vision.
In the vision, this unearthly being of light approaches me. Somehow, I know that I am in the Realm of Qualities (like love, kindness, integrity, compassion, etc) and that the approaching being is the embodiment of a particular quality.
The being approaches. I ask her name. She says: “My name is Hope.”
I’m all (again): Hope? Why hope? I have no relationship with hope!
The vision ends.
This time, I become curious.
It has become very evident to me that I know nothing about hope. And yet, meeting Hope (out of all the possible qualities) suggests there might be something here for me.
Plus, hope seems to be very important to other people. Perhaps I’m missing something?
(like hope, perhaps?)
I begin talking with friends.
One friend tells me that she loves hope… because hope is so hopeful. While that isn’t very helpful for me, I do feel oddly envious of her relationship with hope. Her energy feels so happy and light as she speaks.
Another friend tells me that hope is:
“the golden thread connecting where I am to something better. Hope is what helped me get through some really, really dark times in my life. Without hope, without a vision of something better, I wouldn’t be here today.”
I can feel the emotion, the sincerity, the deep gratitude in her voice.
I still don’t get it.
But, I can sense how real hope is for her and part of me wants to share her experience. Part of me wants to believe in hope.
But, how can I?
For me, hope has always seemed ridiculous.
What is the point of hoping for something? Either it happens or it doesn’t.
Hoping is just a waste of time (at best). At worst, hope might even keep you (me) from doing what it takes to get somewhere… because I am *hoping* for it to happen vs doing something to *make* it happen.
Hope implies lack of will, powerlessness, the necessity to be rescued by something or someone else. Hope implies the inability to be self-determined.
(Stay with me, it gets worse.)
Of course I don’t believe in hope! There is no point to hoping. It is better to just endure whatever is going on that is uncomfortable, painful, or intolerable.
Eventually, it will be over. Or it won’t. Either way, hoping isn’t going to change anything. All hoping does is set up the opportunity for disappointment. Or, in other words, for more pain.
It’s just like with my headaches.
I can hope that they get better. I can hope that this one will not be as long or as intense as the last. I can hope that I’ll find a permanent solution for it. Still, though, when I actually have a headache, all I can do is wait for it to be over. In its own time.
And then, I get to deal with all the feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, grief, and depression that are the aftershocks of that much pain.
See, there is no hope.
For me, years and years of unrelenting pain have squashed any hope of hope. There. Is. No. Hope.
For me, at least, there is no hope. There might be hope for you. I don’t know.
Despite all the above, something my second friend said keeps nagging at me.
The part about hope being the thread that connected her to the vision of something better.
The vision piece… hope is related to vision?
Hope is what connects where I am now to where I’d like to be? Hope is the pathway between here and there?
I begin to notice all the times I’ve really wanted something in my life, where I’ve had a vision for how something could be different or better or easier.
I begin to see how so often I’ve told myself it isn’t possible, or realistic, or that I shouldn’t even want something like that.
I begin to tie all those lost visions, those lost dreams, together with my loss of hope. I realize I DO know what it feels like to hope. However, so often, I immediately squash that feeling of hope, that thread that connects the me-of-now to the me-of-my-vision.
Because, there is no hope… right?
And then, following all the noticing of self-sabotage, I begin to see how the times that I have allowed myself to follow that sense of hope (that sense of something in my heart pulling me forward, that sense of expansion, of lightness, of inspiration, of longing) how beautifully my life has changed.
I begin to see how Hope, even though I denied her very existence, has still managed to be a thread connecting me to something bigger and more life-enhancing time after time after time.
Now, everywhere I turn I see Hope.
I see how Hope has been a constant companion, often in the disguise of that feeling of ‘rightness’, walking beside me throughout every step of my life.
Hope led me to:
- changing my life completely in order for something new and more aligned to come through (this business, my husband),
- discovering more about healing, self-care, ritual, teaching, etc than I could ever have imagined,
- getting married,
- the community we are a part of,
- my spiritual path,
- a deeper connection with my family and my lineage,
- even to writing again (this post),
- and to much, much more.
Plus, as I am becoming more and more aligned with hope, I know that Hope is one of the biggest reasons (perhaps THE reason) I am here.
I am here to offer hope.
Hope of finding relief from pain, hope of a deeper connection with yourself, with your true nature, and with Spirit.
I’m not here to offer the hope of my fears – hope that is not grounded in realness.
Instead, I am here to offer hope that is a pathway to tangible, life-enhancing changes.
I am here to offer hope.
Thank you for being here! I’m curious, what is your experience of hope (or lack of hope)? Your stories, insights, hellos, etc, are all welcome.
Andy Dolph says
Hope for me is about possibility, it’s about acknowledging that there might be a place where things can get better. Somehow knowing there’s a possibility can sometimes open something for me which makes it more possible, and at the very least feels better.
Possibility! Yes! Thanks for being here, Andy. 🙂
Emma McCreary says
Yay, hope! Right now I’m in the process of discernment between False Hope (delusion, the idea that you can will things to go your way, or make other people change) and Real Hope (faith, the truth that all things change and evolve, that wholeness is innate, that I am growing). False Hope can lead to painful disappointment and Hope-less-ness. It can put a shadow on Real Hope, if I’m not careful to separate them and rest my hope on what is real/true.
I love your definition of Real Hope, Emma. Also, discernment! Being able to discern real hope from everything else that claims to be hope is a super important skill (and one I want to also become better at). Any tips?
Emma McCreary says
You know, it’s interesting…reading people’s comments and pondering it there seem to be a spectrum, where No Hope is on one side, and False Hope is on the other. For both the remedy is the same: to rest in Truth.
If you are only seeing No Hope, the Truth you need to see is that there is always possibility, that things do change, that you can create what you want. On the other hand if you are only seeing False Hope, the Truth you need to see is the actual real life before you, paying attention to your needs moment by moment and asking if they are really being met, and what would actually meet them.
When I was a kid, my superpower was to be able to completely shut out the world around me (and the pain it generated) and live in a world I created, a world of the future, a fantasy where my needs would be met all the time, perfectly. This conviction and faith in Hope helped me get through situations I couldn’t change. But as an adult, that same superpower is something that has been responsible for more pain than any other pattern I have, because it has kept me from facing reality for long periods and let me endure in delusion while doing nothing to change my circumstances. What was once a way to nourish myself has become poison fruit.
Tips? Staying in the present. Making small changes that make a difference in my day to day life. I try to let the dreams float above me and around me–they are still there, but I don’t want to live inside them, because they aren’t real yet. I know they are possible, but my actual work, and that which will make me feel better today and tomorrow is in the day to day living.
False hope has a flavor too it. A little too exciting, a little too perfect, a little too grandiose. Real life good things feel solid, not epic, and have a flavor of satisfaction.
It’s still something I’m learning. It’s easy for me to put happiness out there in the future, amidst a wonderful plan that unfolds splendidly. But there is more net happiness in attending to the present moment by cleaning the house and going to bed early, meeting my needs for order and rest.
Beautiful, Emma. Thank you!
I am laughing over here because “I love hope because it’s so hopeful” is totally something I would say myself. Giggling away. It sounds so funny when I say it but that is exactly how I feel about it. I do love it. It reminds me of possibility and magic and wonder. It reminds me of my story about the girl with the river & turquoise wand, where their heart’s fondest wishes came true, in likely and unlikely ways. It reminds me that things can always change, even if I can’t see how from where I am standing. Because when I don’t believe they can, I am not connected with what is real and true in me.
THIS!!! “It reminds me that things can always change, even if I can’t see how from where I am standing. Because when I don’t believe they can, I am not connected with what is real and true in me.”
So beautiful. Thank you.
Also… you did say it! I was quoting you! (and, again, I’m envious of your connection with hope; your connection is so evident in your words). I wasn’t going to out you on my blog; however, since you’ve outed yourself… 🙂
*slips away to add link to your site*
Oh my, I SO identify with your early experience/perception of Hope, Larisa! I haven’t discovered Hope yet, though I can see I struggle enormously without her (arch enemy Hopelessness). For me, I think somewhere along the path, it became dangerous to hope, so learning to squish it was a (then) survival strategy… however it no longer serves me well. I fear Hope; that crashing sense of disappointment that threatens to cave my world… And yet I can see also that I DO hope at times.
*embarks on path of learning to find Hope in healthy ways*
Thankyou for your beautiful post; I’d love to hear more about the vision healing with various qualities, if you’d care to share more!
Hi Magic 🙂
I so understand about it being dangerous to hope and how squishing the hope was a helpful survival strategy for a while. Sending so much love and support your way as you embark on discovering a new way to relate to Hope.
I love this post! It gives me lots to think about. I really don’t think I’ve ever given hope much thought at all. But it occurs to me that, despite that, I must have had hope in the past. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have done the things that were necessary to get myself out of depression, eating disorders, and just generally less-than-ideal situations. Even though at those times I was just doing whatever it took to relieve my suffering, at some level, I must have had hope (even though I wasn’t at all aware of it). What you said about hope being a thread definitely makes sense to me. It was a thread that I wasn’t even aware of.
Interesting! It sounds like our experiences with Hope have been pretty similar. I also hadn’t given hope a thought (I’m repeating myself here). For me, too, I had to revisit different times in my life (once I became aware that Hope is real) and kind of seek out the role Hope had played. And then, wow! Hope is everywhere! And now, I genuinely want to keep cultivating a *conscious* relationship with her/this quality. Who know where Hope might lead?
I’ll really have to give this some thought. I don’t know hope except in passing, you know when you’ve heard someone say, “I hope so”, I know it like that. I guess I think hope is really something else. Some combination of other things and people are just calling it hope, but if she’s an angelic being, a real quality and energy by herself… then I think I need to give hope another and more respectful chance to reveal itself to me. Thanks for this.
You make a really great point here, Cliff… basically about how (I’m paraphrasing) overused the word ‘hope’ is. Speaking for myself, hope is a word that is used so often and so casually that it’s no wonder I’ve never had a genuine relationship to Hope. It took some pretty big hints for me to even become willing to consider there might be something more there.
I’m super curious to hear if/how she reveals herself to you!
Note to everyone: I keep referring to Hope as a she because that is how I experienced her in my vision. Hope may feel/be totally different for you.
So great a post! I’m so happy to read your writings again.
According to my ancestors, “hope” was the thing left in Pandora’s Box (jar; urn) after all the evil was released. Through my life I’ve developed the idea that hope is the most dangerous of all the evils in that historic container. Because it distracts from *now*. Because it, as you put it, “Eventually, it will be over. Or it won’t. Either way, hoping isn’t going to change anything. All hoping does is set up the opportunity for disappointment. Or, in other words, for more pain.”
I consider you a mentor, a teacher, and a friend. When I consult with you, I’m not looking for reassurance (hope), I want perspective & truth. If that somehow generates hope, then that’s what naturally happened to me when I received whatever you put out. I don’t think it’s your job to offer “hope” per se. You offer health and wisdom; what happens in the recipient is completely in them.
PS: of course, if I come to you as a friend seeking reassurance, then yes, I’ll take a dose of hope, please.
Wow. I’ve never heard that version of Pandora’s Box. How absolutely fascinating (and understandable as that is how I’ve lived most of my life) that Hope is considered the most evil of all the evils in that framework.
I love, however, that my actual experience of Hope has began to change over the past months. Perhaps what Emma says about False Hope is more what that story references?
Good food for thought!
Also, yes! I have no desire to force-feed people Hope through my work. 🙂 However, if after interacting with me in some way, people walk away having a sense of hope thanks to knowing what their next concrete step is… awesome!
I can suffer a traumatic experience and get over the pain and suffering of it, mostly because I can recognize that the experience doesn’t define me. When or if I lose hope then I’ve lost the ability to separate myself from the experience. I’ve lost the possibility that healing can come into my life and I can get better. I’ve lost hope. Viewed on a scale, hopelessness/depression would be -100 and the opposite would be manic positivity +100 (see Tom Cruise). Hope would be right in the middle at zero, balanced yet hopeful. Not creepily positive, and not totally defeated either. At least this is how I think of it.
So the worst is to be without hope. If hope is believing that something better will come. To be without hope is to believe I deserve whatever I’m suffering. I cannot separate my true self from the traumatic experience, I take it on as ‘me’. This is the worst place to be. If I think of prisoners of war, hope is what leads them to escape. Whereas the captors try to distinguish all hope in the prisoners. That makes for much easier prisoners to deal with.
I guess I view hope as a feeling, or energetic experience in my body. Faith I see as more of a belief. I’m not so big on faith. I like proof. I guess I see the energetic experience in the meat of my body as proof enough for some things. If my body verifies it, then I know my mind isn’t deluding me.
Ooh. Faith! That’s another quality I have very little embodied experience of and also tend to not put much faith (ha!) in.
I appreciate all the connections you’ve made between no-hope and the inability to separate yourself from whatever pain you’re experiencing. Lots more for me to think about here! Thank you.
george tseng says
Love this. Hope is a vision that will be achieved eventually as long as every step and breath feels beautiful. See beyond the superficial with owls eyes and feel the sweetness beyond the usual. Trust the signposts along the path in life that will show your heart towards the destination you hope for.
“Hope is a vision that will be achieved eventually as long as every step and breath feels beautiful.” Nicely said! I like how you are bringing attention to the importance of tuning into what you *feel* as a way to know if you are on the pathway of hope.
Larisa, I was so happy to see this writing from you in my inbox. Hope comes up often in my lists of qualities I’m asking to join me for the day, but I can feel pretty hopeless at times. Fortunately, today is not one of those times. So it’s like I want to believe in hope but I don’t have much of a relationship with her, at least it’s hidden.
“…i want to believe in hope but don’t have much of a relationship with her…” I can relate to that! When I was asking friends about their experience of hope, it was super frustrating to realize how little of a relationship I had with her at the time.
Sending whatever is necessary for you to follow that thread that connects the you-of-now who wants to believe in Hope to the you-who-HAS a strong relationship with her.
This reminds me of a scene from the movie Charlotte Grey, where the psychiatrist interviewing her (so she can join the intelligence service in WW2 England) asks: “Of these three, which in your view is the most important: faith, hope or love?” To which Charlotte replies, “Hope.”
Hope is what you need when you have nothing else left, and is therefore the most important thing. Without hope, you cannot truly have faith, and without faith I feel you cannot truly love (for what is love if you do not have the ability to believe in someone or something, and what is faith if you have no hopes to have faith in?)