“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”
― Emily Dickinson
I really don’t believe there is such a thing as false hope. Why?
Let’s look at the definition of ‘false’.
1. not true or correct; erroneous:
2. tending to deceive or mislead; deceptive:
3. based on mistaken, erroneous, or inconsistent impressions, ideas, or facts:
4. not genuine; counterfeit:
Hope is an internal experience
Which means there is noting going on inside of you that is untrue, deceiving, mistaken or not genuine when you are hoping. I believe hope is something akin to faith. Untouchable, unexplainable, undefinable. It just is. Even when you don’t think it’s there.
I remember when my father lay dying in the hospital. The doctors told us there was not chance of survival. He had been in the hospital for six weeks, in and out of consciousness. When the doctors said this to us, my desire was to let him know it was okay to go. Still, I didn’t want to take away his ‘hope’.
But was it his ‘hope’ I was afraid of dashing?
I don’t think so. I believe it was my own hope, in the face of undeniable circumstances, that was still going on inside me. And that is not a bad thing.
Hope is something deep inside that motivates us to continue to put one foot in front of the other no matter what is going on. It is what kept so many alive in concentration camps. It is what ignites in us the passion to stand for something that might change the world. It is what lovers feel for their future; what kids experience as they graduate from school; what entrepreneurs live on as they start a new business; what pregnant parents feel for their unborn child; and what we hold on to in the face of disaster.
Hope is an inner drive.
It’s wanting something so much and at the same time surrendering to what will be. We know that just because we hope for something doesn’t mean it will happen the way we want or that we’ll get what we want. But whether we admit it or not, hope is there. It’s part of our nature. Within our ‘hope’ is our potential. The potential to be, do, have anything we want. Without hope life is dull, boring, numbing. It’s like living in Pleasant-ville, just black, white, and grays.
Sometimes we are afraid of hoping, afraid that we won’t get what we want or that others will reject us, or that we will fail. So we squelch that delicious feeling of ‘looking up’, ‘reaching out’, ‘following our heart’s desire. We tell ourselves ‘it’ doesn’t really matter that much to us. But deep inside we know that’s not true. When we dampen our ‘hope’ we use a lot of energy and that tires us emotionally, mentally and spiritually. And for some it can produce such a loss of self, a loss of belief that life will get better, a loss is so painful that they no longer want to live. It is that disconnect from hope that causes them to take their lives.
But the opposite of hope is not death! The opposite of hope is disappointment. And disappointment hurts.
You can see it in the eyes of a child who after hoping for ice cream is told ‘not before dinner’. But right behind that disappointment, that temper tantrum, that expression of emotion, is another hope. One right after another. We know it’s there in their laughter, in their tenacity, in their joie de vivre. It is that hope that gives us the courage to learn to walk, to ride a bike, to go to the dance!
If we are afraid to be disappointed and we let that fear stop us from hoping for MORE…
we live half a life. Half our joy, half our fun, half our greatness, half of our full potential. A world without hope is a world without beauty, diversity, curiosity, and adventure. If you are feeling unmotivated, lethargic, dull, it’s a good bet that you have given up your ‘hope’. You have let your fear of disappointment and pain stop you from feeling your desire. And that is a choice even though it doesn’t feel like it is. I know because I allowed that for a while. I let myself sit in that fear until I realized that ‘it’ was really the only thing in my way and the only thing that was causing me pain.
When I chose to be honest with myself, and allowed myself to connect with my ‘hope’…
the world was full of color again. Did I get what I hoped for? Not necessarily. But the feeling of hope itself was what I was after. And it felt so good. At first I hoped for little stuff but after awhile I started hoping for bigger experiences. I opened a door inside myself and allowed my hope to take me outside and I found the world was beautiful.
I will never again trade ‘hope’ for the numbness that lingers when I’m trying to avoid disappointment or pain. Because pain does pass and when I choose hope it passes quicker.
I hope (no pun intended) that you found this useful. That you open yourself to your true nature. Allow your hope to move you, to carry you, to inspire your greatness.
As always, live easy and be kind to yourself