When Should You Abandon Hope?
I’m writing to you today with a singular message that has helped me so much these past few weeks: Abandon Hope.
Yes, really. There’s a particular type of hope that I’m referring to... The hope that keeps us convinced that this moment should somehow be different from what it is, that you could be different from who you are. In the words of Pema Chodron, “Without giving up hope — that there’s somewhere better to be, that there’s someone better to be — we will never relax with where we are or who we are.”
Living a spiritual life means being deeply present, in radical acceptance of ourselves and others. Deepening our connection with Spirit, keeping our hearts open. If we’re locked in a constant struggle against what is, we can’t access the wisdom of the experience we are within at the moment.
This type of hope also keeps us focused on the future, with the constant pressure to “get it together” or “do better”. Change can happen through an increased control of ourselves, but it doesn’t have to. You still get to have hopes, dreams, and desires. Let those inform your intentions and the direction of your path. Don’t cling to them so tightly that your life depends upon them, triggering your nervous system constantly.
Cultivating safety within our own bodies requires a deep familiarity with all of the scary, painful, frustrating aspects of life. Reaching for hope to somehow save us from the present moment prevents us from learning from the wisdom within the hard stuff. Our fears and traumas have less power over us when they are deeply well-known to us.
It might feel counterintuitive to meet fear and pain with curiosity instead of turning away. As Christians, we believe in a deep and abiding spirit of compassion that all of us can access within ourselves at any time - if we choose it. Sometimes, the only way to connect to that compassion is through the pain and the fear, straight through the center of our challenges.
You can think of it like surface tension. Fear is at the surface, creating tension. It’s hot and buggy. If we dive down under the surface of our consciousness, we find the cool, still waters of compassion.
What hope can you abandon today? What feelings have you been avoiding that you can turn toward and befriend?
If you’d like to learn more, Pema Chodron’s books “When Things Fall Apart”, and “Welcoming the Unwelcome” are excellent resources.