Hope. It has been described to me as a strategy for freedom, a trajectory of love, a means of healing and a way of being. Except it seems lately that “hope” is actually a diversion from trusting myself — from knowing what I can do. We humans use hope as a perfectly rational way of staying far away from real trust and knowing, by “hoping” things will work out. Could we replace hope with knowing, and effectively clear the way to our dreams?
I hope I can have that conversation. I hope this will pass. I hope I get that job, I hope I’ll find my way through this, I hope I’ll be able to say “I’m sorry.” I hope she will hear me.
By saying “I hope,” I’m buying time. I’m diverting my own attention from what I need to do, which is to design the experience and KNOW that it is so. DONE. Far more potent and real than hope, designing my life and trusting in my capacities actually makes things happen, and it’s how I learn to trust myself.
In the past two weekends I’ve taught at the Yoga Journal Conference in New York and the Tadasana Festival in Santa Monica. The ridiculous irony of teaching alongside my earliest teachers is that I’m making my dream come true — helping families be more attentive, communicative and honest — yet still I doubt. I doubt what’s possible in general; I doubt my capacities in particular. I’m afraid of failing and equally afraid of succeeding. And by holding such doubtful thoughts, I keep the concepts of lack and failure very close by.
I want another way of seeing. For the past two months I’ve made a deal with myself to toss $1.00 onto the street every time I have a doubting thought. This self-imposed, slightly humorous consequence — learned from working with the Handel Method — has the effect of heightening my awareness of how seemingly tiny thoughts can literally take over and derail me. I’m now able to notice when doubt begins to form in my mind and catch it before it drives me to take any action out of fear.
But I can’t shift my doubt by talking about how much I hope I’m able to do it. When I’m hoping I’ll succeed, or hoping everything will be alright, it might seem like I’m headed in the right direction — but that hope distances me from actually being present in the moment and focusing on what I should be doing NOW. Hope keeps me from doing what I need to do — because I’m “hopeful” instead of actually just dealing with what’s next. It’s a simple matter of how I place my attention — if I tell myself that I have hope, I feel like I’m a “good person,” yet I’m not taking any real action to make my dream happen. Meanwhile, conversations go unaddressed, tension and pain mount in my body, and I wonder why I feel like a hypocrite, why hurt and haze are so present, and why a solution feels so far away. I want more than hope.
Be in the know
When my life coach taught me that all I ever need to do is KNOW — know that I can have that conversation, know that this will pass, that I’ll get the right job, that I’ll find my way through this, that I’ll be able to say “I’m sorry”, that she’ll hear me — then I can set about designing my way into that reality.
In the profound work that I’ve been doing with the Handel Group, we begin by creating and writing down dreams for every area of our lives. What’s your dream for your relationship to time? Or to money? Your dream for your body? Your partner? Your personal space? Your career? Your family? Your adventure quotient?
Then, in sorting through why we haven’t made those dreams true yet, we learn about the interior commentaries that keep us from living those dreams and making our highest contributions. I can’t. I won’t (insert foot stomp)! It’s not MY responsibility. It’s HIS fault. And once we’ve understood how our minds work, we can make interior shifts in our thinking — then we learn how to shift our actions externally, which eventually leads to huge sea changes in our perspectives. Then the real healing begins.
Let’s lift the veil of hopefulness and just get clear on what needs to happen — and how elegantly we can take the daunting but exhilarating next step.
We asked experts, authors and readers like you to share their stories of Hope. Every day for the next month, you’ll find new tips for optimism on Gaiam Life, the Stream of Consciousness blog and our social media sites: Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. And don’t miss the GaiamTV.com Hope Film Festival, with FREE films all month long.