“Give up all Hope.” This was the provocative opening to a recent post by my dear friend and burgeoning life coach, Molly Larkin. I was instantly hooked. I found her words insightful and inspiring. But also frightening. I began to question my own dogma. At first, this unnecessarily “worried” me. Have I been wrong? Have I been influenencing others negatively with my words? In large part because I agreed with Molly’s thoughts and at first they seemed to be in contradiction with my own.
But the beautiful thing about debate (even an internal debate!) is it gets the self to think deeper—to think broader.
And I realized: 1. There is definitely more than one way to skin a chicken and 2. Words mean different things to many different people. That’s why even Merriam Webster lists multiple alternate (and sometimes opposing) definitions for an individual word.
So let me back up a bit to the beginning…
Molly’s post that got my mind a’spinning explained that she has had such “hope” for so long that if she only parented differently, her son would be/behave differently. And recently it was brought to her attention that this may just be the way her son is. “What if it’s always this hard?” her friend asked (what a great question!). She realized she was bringing herself unnecessary suffering by always “hoping” that things will change some day.
Hence the “Give Up All Hope” post-it.
Expounding on this idea, she brought it full-circle to the roots of human suffering… we spend so many moments waiting for the next moment (the “better” moment) to happen that we completely miss out on the life we are given.
And this is where I got turned on my head. Hope has been the cornerstone of my faith (before I even had faith) over the last decade plus as I have faced medical challenge after physical challenge after personal challenge.
BUT at the same time, and this was my conundrum, I agree 100% with her assessment of suffering.
So, how can both be true?
It all comes down to reaction instead of action.
For me, I realized, it is not the idea of hope that causes me suffering, it is the attachment to a specific outcome of hope that causes suffering. When I start defining what hope should look like or feel like in my future life, that’s when I get into trouble.
Hope for me is truly: Hang On Peace Exists… internal peace.
It’s remembering that “this too shall pass.” It’s actually the process of not forming an attachment to the present situation.
Hope for me is a personal journey. It is knowing that I am powerless over external forces in my life. That includes friends, family, my husband, my illness and the doctors, the freezing cold weather (!) and many, many other things. But I can also have hope that each day I’ll wake with a little more acceptance about what is. A little more grace and gratitude for what I do have.
Instead of trying to change myself to “better fit” into my environment, I hope only to see a little more clearly each day that everything is exactly as it is supposed to be. And that includes myself.
And that when I hope or pray that “this too shall pass,” I am not hoping that the situation will pass or change but that my attachment to it will. When I start to let go of my attachment to outcomes, it frees up an enormous amount of “heart space” to live and just be, in that moment.
I know this to be true. Because I have experienced it. And because I have experienced it before, I can hope that this feeling of true peace with what is will come again.
This is how I came to terms with the dichotomy of feelings I initially had towards Molly’s post.
I won’t give up hope. Because that to me is giving up any chance that each day can be a little bit better. And by that, I mean, I can be at a little bit more peace. Hold On Peace Exists.
To me, just by writing her brave post, Molly showed hope. Hope for acceptance of who she is as a mother and who her son is as a unique person.
Just imagine if we all hope for a little more of that peaceful acceptance in our lives… we would each begin to walk around looking others in the eyes and being able to fully look our own selves in the eyes, with the truest sentiment of “Namaste:”
“I honor the spirit within you as I honor the spirit within myself.”
So, now read the definition of Hope:
1. “To want something to be true and think it could be happen or be true.” And
2. “to expect with confidence”: TRUST
and look at it in a different light. If the thing you want and think could be true is no longer a specific outcome that will change the current situation of your life but rather that you now “trust” that the thing that is true is yourself, doesn’t it change everything? Have hope and trust that the truest thing is who you are, where you are, and what you are already doing. Now the hope lies in the peaceful acceptance of these facts.
For the other part of “Namaste” is the acknowledgment that god/goddess/spirit resides in all of us. It is the humble removal of ego. It is the awareness that we are all one.
And at that center of that oneness is a perfect creation.
I hope that today you can look yourself in the mirror and wish yourself “Namaste.”