The Hypocrisy of Hope

Yep, you read the title right.  It will be easy for many of you to dismiss this entire post as me just going through a tough time.  After all, one of my brothers has cancer and another family member is ill.  Some of you might tell yourself that I could just be pissed at the whole world right now.

But the thing is, I’m not.  In fact, there is a deep peace in my life that has only increased over the last few months.  The reason that very hard-earned peace is increasing instead of decreasing is because, when he learned of my brother’s diagnosis, a good friend had the courage to tell me not to buy into hoping that everything would turn out OK in the end.

And as my friend suspected, it was one of the things the doctors said.  “We’ll do all we can and hope for the best.”

There will be those arguing that hope is vital and important, but it really isn’t.  I can hope that after losing 79 pounds these last 40 are just going to take care of themselves, but they aren’t.  I can hope that my brother will live another 40 years, but there is no guarantee he will.

Here’s why I don’t like hope.  If you rely on hope, you’re less likely to think about the worst case scenario.  You’ll focus on how great things will eventually be.  But if you don’t think about the worst case, you’ll never think about why it is the worst— why would it bother you if things got that bad?

In that way, hope protects you from dealing with unpleasantness.  It sucks that someone you love is suffering and may die earlier than expected.   It sucks that it is hard work to change and improve yourself, etc., etc.  No one wants to deal with those things so we hope we don’t have to.

But it sucks way more when you miss opportunities to take care of the really important things because you didn’t even realize they were important until it was too late for you to do anything about it.  You were too busy hoping it would all work out, there’d be some new treatment, or some product would make it all much easier.

It isn’t hope we all need.  Instead it is a personal reason to fully live life— a reason that runs deep enough to cause us to act even when fear is present and motivation is gone.  We need a reason that runs so deep that we will continue to take action even when, well, even when we can’t find a shred of hope.

And the peace that is part of my life?  It came when it became more uncomfortable to deny my weaknesses and problems than it was to face them and start working through them one at a time.

Once I realized that the temporary discomfort was nothing compared to the positive gains of knowing what really matters to me, it was easier to apply that to all aspects of life.  Hope no longer matters to me, but what does matter is enough to keep me coming back to the things I know make a difference.

Have you found your reasons and faced your demons?

🙂
Kathryn

(*Hypocrisy is the act of pretending to have beliefs, opinions, virtues, feelings, qualities, or standards that one does not actually have. Hypocrisy is thus a kind of lie. Hypocrisy may come from a desire to hide from others actual motives or feelings.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypocrisy)

The Hypocrisy of Hope

Yep, you read the title right. It will be easy for many of you to dismiss this entire post as me just going through a tough time. After all, one of my brothers has cancer and another family member is ill. Some of you might tell yourself that I could just be pissed at the whole world right now.

But the thing is, I’m not. In fact, there is a deep peace in my life that has only increased over the last few months. The reason that very hard-earned peace is increasing instead of decreasing is because, when he learned of my brother’s diagnosis, a good friend had the courage to tell me not to buy into hoping that everything would turn out OK in the end.

And as my friend suspected, it was one of the things the doctors said. “We’ll do all we can and hope for the best.”

There will be those arguing that hope is vital and important, but it really isn’t. I can hope that after losing 79 pounds these last 40 are just going to take care of themselves, but they aren’t. I can hope that my brother will live another 40 years, but there is no guarantee he will.

Here’s why I don’t like hope. If you rely on hope, you’re less likely to think about the worst case scenario. You’ll focus on how great things will eventually be. But if you don’t think about the worst case, you’ll never think about why it is the worst— why would it bother you if things got that bad.

In that way, hope protects you from dealing with unpleasantness. It sucks that someone you love is suffering and may die earlier than expected. It sucks that it is hard work to change and improve yourself, etc., etc. No one wants to deal with those things so we hope we don’t have to.

But it sucks way more when you miss opportunities to take care of the really important things because you didn’t even realize they were important until it was too late for you to do anything about it. You were too busy hoping it would all work out, there’d be some new treatment, or some product would make it all much easier.

It isn’t hope we all need. Instead it is a personal reason to fully live life— a reason that runs deep enough to cause us to act even when fear is present and motivation is gone. We need a reason that runs so deep that we will continue to take action even when, well, even when we can’t find a shred of hope.

And the peace that is part of my life? It came when it became more uncomfortable to deny my weaknesses and problems than it was to face them and start working through them one at a time.

Once I realized that the temporary discomfort was nothing compared to the positive gains of knowing what really matters to me, it was easier to apply that to all aspects of life. Hope no longer matters to me, but what does matter is enough to keep me coming back to the things I know make a difference.

(Hypocrisy is the act of pretending to have beliefs, opinions, virtues, feelings, qualities, or standards that one does not actually have. Hypocrisy is thus a kind of lie. Hypocrisy may come from a desire to hide from others actual motives or feelings.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypocrisy)

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2 Responses to The Hypocrisy of Hope

  1. Penny says:

    Your posting was very insightful and clarified why I feel discomfort when I use the words “good luck” or “hopefully” followed by a positive desire for someone. It feels insincere and inactive. A positive outcome most often requires commitment and hard work. And to your point, it is a cop out for me, the well-wisher, from both an emotional and active support perspective.

    That said, we can’t 100% discount those other mysterious forces such as hope and luck in the world. It reminds me of advice I heard once that went something like, “Pray like IT is the only thing that will work, and seek the best care like IT is the only thing that will work.” I think you would add, “And be prepared if nothing works.”

    Thank you for this week’s personal challenge.

  2. Hi Penny, Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment.

    As you know, I’m very lucky to be alive. And it is inexplicable as to how that is possible, so I won’t discount those unseen and unknown factors. But I wrote the post because I think it is important to try to look at why something bothers us so as to not miss opportunity over a little discomfort, or even a lot of discomfort.

    Lots of folks have the hoping down, not as many will sit quietly with themselves and face that which scares them.

    You’re welcome for the challenge. 😉

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