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The Hope Trap

16th February 2011

Hope seems to be one of those empowering words we hear in films about how someone full of hope triumphed against all the odds for a powerfully positive result.  We are literally bombarded through various media how important hope is to have and yet there is a dark side to hope we hardly hear about.

Inspired by a quote from Baruch Spinoza the Dutch Philosopher “There can be no hope without fear and no fear without hope.”  I decided to explore hope and came up with some very interesting perspectives I thought I would share with you as it certainly made created some changes for me.

In the Encarta dictionary it also says about hope:

“To have a wish to have or do something or for something to happen or be true, especially something that seems possible or likely.”

“A feeling that something desirable is likely to happen.”

“A chance that something desirable will happen or be possible.”

It all sounds good doesn’t it but I believe Hope can be a trap and it can torment people with its allure and false promises.  Some people might recognise that as false hope but what is interesting is that a lot of people can’t seem to tell the difference and get really hurt by their expectations, desires and wants not coming true.

Here are some interesting perspectives about hope.

Hope can create frustration too, have you ever hoped for what type of day you want to have and then when it doesn’t happen your way, you find yourself being inflexible and frustrated?  If so, your mind would benefit from being a bit more present and flexible with what the day brings to you as you will often have no idea what will come your way.  If you try to make the day happen as hoped then you could also be missing out on opportunities which come when being too focused and stubborn with the direction you want to take.

I find hope distracts me from what I am doing; it creates dissatisfaction with what I am doing right now in favour of doing something better.  This is a trap as that something better will never satisfy the hopeful mind.

Hope is so distracting it lowers attention spans,  I used to notice when I would be surfing the internet I would hope to find something better than the page I had found.  When flicking through TV channels I would restlessly go from one channel to the next in the hope of finding something to attract my attention.  I no longer do this as my mind hates the heavy, tense feeling that comes with it.

The most common trap from hope is when hoping to be happier.  How can anyone be presently happy when their attention is in the future or the past wishing they were?

Another example of this is weight loss, the amount of clients telling me they will be happy when they reach their goal is a bit worrying.  They live in hope they will reach their goal but the misery caused by not being there yet creates another binge on the food making them fat!  Being happy now and being proactive now with that weight will make the change, hope will not do it and can just create more dissatisfaction which requires some treats to bring some happiness back, even if just for a moment.

Hope can lead to inaction as some people wait their lives out hoping for the change they desire to suddenly happen?

Hope can create fantasies of the future which people will not settle any less for.  For example clients often tell me what they hope for in a relationship and yet they are not getting the message that years of being single or drifting from one relationship to the next is a clue that what they hope for is an illusion.

Hope creates expectations and you could miss out on the joy of the new experience due to the mind still focusing on what it thought it would be like.

In Greek mythology, when Pandora opened Pandora’s box, she let out all evils of the world except one which was hope.

Hope was personified in Greek mythology as Elpis. When Pandora opened Pandora’s Box, she let out all the evil except one: hope. It may be worthy to note that in the story, hope is in effect far more potent than any of the major evils, which include lust and envy

What to do with hope

If my attention shifts to the future to create a mind movie or image which inspires a good feeling about what I want to happen then the next few steps have to be:

Is this realistic and achievable?

If not then I drop the false hope right there and shift the mind back to the present moment.

If unsure if realistic and it needs exploration then I will seek advice at the right time and in the present moment.

If it is realistic and I can make steps towards it right now then I will, if not then the shift back to the present moment is next and the action will take place at the right time.

Interestingly since I began dropping “hoping” I noticed how much more present I am and also how much more productive I am in that present moment.  Life is way too short to be lived with the mind wishing this that and the other in the future when in reality we often have so much great stuff going on right now.  If we don’t have something great going on right now….then hoping changes nothing and by being present, we can act right now to change what comes our way in the future.