Hope that Springs Eternal, to misquote a pope which, if you’ve read Dan Brown, is misleading.
It occurred to me today in between the coughs that are all that remain of the second-hand cold I’ve been fighting off since my wife caught it from my sister on Boxing Day, (a sort of genetically modified, festively duplicated cold-in-law perhaps?), that there oughtn’t to be any such thing as a false hope.
It’s a criticism levied at those of us who look positively at negative situations by those chappies who’s own particular stance and opinion is negatively tuned, often by the potential for litigious back-lash. For some, it is apparently better to accept that the worst is reality and that entertaining the slightest optimism for a better outcome isn’t worth the risk of massive potential disappointment if the worst then duly turns up and kicks you right in the teeth.
I get it.
But surely this is simply not hoping; actively deciding that Hope is not worth the risk of Hope being dashed.
This is not false hope nor is it actually making a case for hope to be ignored. It is simply weighing up the pros and cons of entertaining hope and opting for the downside of life as either it is pretty likely to turn up anyway, or grinding your way through yet another disappointment is more than you can bear.
This is not a nice place to be. Life throws some horrible things at us sometimes. Sometimes Hope can feel too big.
But my point I suppose, is that taking the risk of hoping for a better outcome is more than simply ignoring the obvious truth of your situation, as some naysayers would have it.
Taking the risk of hoping can bring some immensely powerful guns to bear on an otherwise hope-less situation. Not least of these is that by truly opting for hope; opting to believe that there just might be way beyond the apparent certainty you’ve been expecting; that one of the most complex and least understood mechanisms in western culture can finally fire up and weigh in on your side.
Those of your that follow me regularly will probably have guessed that I’m alluding to that not-so-mythical mind-body connection. That aspect of eastern philosophy that is being slowly uncovered and accepted as our sciences become more adept at measuring such ephemerous concepts.
Maybe there’s a reason that hope springs eternal. Maybe Alexander was simply expressing a deeply ingrained feature of our human make-up that is designed to get us to stoke up the fires of the mind-body connection and generate every last vestige of opportunity for the bad thing, whatever it that bad thing might be, to be overcome.
Hope really can change your destiny.
But what if it didn’t.
What if, despite Hope, the bad thing happened. Your illness didn’t go away? The pain didn’t recede? It really did turn out to be the death that comes to us all, scythe in bony hand depending on your local anthropomorph?
Does this mean that the hope was false?
Not at all. Hope is just that. Hope. Nothing more.
My point is that by hoping, you bring every last possibility to bear on the side of your own victory. By hoping, every last possible chance and opportunity has been taken.
And if hope doesn’t work, what’s the consequence?
Well, for the time that you were hoping, life had a more positive feel. You did what you could. You felt as if you were in control. You were in charge of your destiny, not the bad thing.
The disappointment of losing your personal battle is no more disappointing because you hoped.
The hope wasn’t false. It was just hope.
If you look at Hope and you decide that it is not for you, then I’d ask that you consider your decision having thought and felt a little more about what Hope might bring, if only you dared to entertain it. It brings so much more than wishful thinking. It just might turn the tide.
One of the key aspects of my therapy practice is enabling clients to find Hope in what they had previously considered to be hope-less situations.
It’s one of the key turning points in therapy.
Once that fire of Hope is lit, we’re homeward bound.
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