With the New Year beginning, many of us look at the next twelve months as an opportunity to accomplish, inspire, and shed the old patterns of thinking and living. This is a great thing! But if you already feel yourself slipping away from your New Year’s resolutions, here’s a thought to hold in mind so that when you get to February you don’t start hating yourself for not living up to your expectations – understand the difference between hope and false hope.
Hope includes qualities like anticipation, eagerness, excitement, creativity, awareness, dreaming, and planning out the small steps to get you where you hope to be. These qualities make you feel light, alive, present, charismatic, filled with an attitude that nothing in the world can keep you from accomplishing your goal. There’s a tingling in your bones that tells you how close you are, your heart expands into feelings of joy, an intuitive ability activates that guides your every move. Hope is the essence of why we are living this human experience, for the hope of love and peace and freedom. Hope is all about an abundance of choices and knowing you have the freedom to make them. Hope is an acceptance of where you are in your life because you know that right now is exactly where you need to be to get to where you want to go. Hope is your ultimate motivation.
False hope is the illusion that all of the qualities of hope are present when in reality; you’re nowhere close to hope. Your stomach ties in knots but you don’t quite know why. You get anxious when you think about all the things that need to happen in order for your hope to be fulfilled. In your gut, you kind of know that you’ll never actually make it there in this lifetime but you want this so bad that you’re willing to deny all the road signs that are screaming at you to turn left when you’re turning right. False hope leads you away from yourself into a dense fog of rationalization and frustration. You live in constant motion, banging your head against a massive, solid wall and wondering why the soft bone around your brain isn’t enough to even make a dent. False hope is using the same methods and practicing the same patterns but expecting different results. False hope leads to internal turmoil and eventually a life that looks completely normal on the outside but feels completely insane on the inside. There is no freedom in the fog of false hope, only unrelenting repetition of how things have always been, absent of any evidence of change.
In order to clear the fog, we need to change the patterns. Hope is an ally in this process. False hope only leaves us confused and caught in circular destructive behavior patterns. Do you find yourself making the same resolutions year after new year only to lose all your motivation after a couple of days or weeks? This is having false hope; your goal is either too lofty or you’re not living in reality. For example (and this is kind of a heavy example, but nonetheless valid), I grew up in an abusive family. For about twenty-five years, I held the false hope that someday our family would wake up, recognize the destructive patterns, make healthy changes, and we’d all live happily ever after. As a child and teenager, I tried everything – communication attempts, acting ‘nice’, saying and doing exactly what they wanted me to do, thinking that I could please them if only I were perfect, denying that I had any valid needs, etc. The destructive behavior list was endless. But you know where I ended up? I lost all sight of who I was as a person. I was incredibly unhappy. I felt neglected, unloved, unsupported, and completely exhausted from trying to keep up the façade that I was a well-adjusted, ‘normal’ person. I was living in my own personal hell, created by me and my false hope for my family unit to be anything but what they are. And the day I woke up and saw that I was holding onto false hope as a survival technique, and that it was getting me absolutely nowhere, was the day I truly felt freedom for the first time in my life. What followed were a few hard choices, a lot of tears, and a truckload of self-doubt, but looking at where I am now in my life, in my mental and emotional landscape, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. See, in the freedom I now have comes the realization that I was desperately clinging to false hope and leaving no room for the magic of real, honest hope to transform my life. When I let go of my false hope and expectations, life gave me what I had wanted all along. I found all the things I needed right here inside of me, they’d always been here, I just didn’t know it. I made room for real hope to give me what I really needed – myself, my true happy contented courageous real self. All of our journeys are different, not everyone wants to completely leave their family and venture out into the world like I have (although it is quite an amazing life really). Yet, I am an advocate of taking an honest look at where you stand in your life and having the courage to say ‘no, thanks’ to false hope and ‘absolutely yes!’ to hope.
So when you’re thinking about the changes you’d like to see in your life, whether big or small, ponder whether or not you’re absorbing the qualities of hope or clinging to the qualities of false hope. You’ll know you’re on the right track when the fog lifts. Your instincts engage and you see your life with a clarity you’ve never experienced before. In that clarity, the seed of hope is planted. Water it, softly speak words of encouragement, and watch as the most tender, beautiful, loving awe fills your heart. This is hope. Growing and transforming…