When things get hard, we turn to hope. We hope we’ll be able to travel, visit, and hug our friends again soon. We hope that people will be able to return back to work and businesses will bounce back. We hope for a 2021 that’s less chaotic, less tragic, less unstabilizing than 2020. Really, we’re hoping for a future that’s better than wherever we are now.
Hope is a survival tool that helps us endure the pain of now in exchange for the promise of a better future. But, what are you missing while waiting for things to get better?
When we turn to hope, we start ignoring, bypassing, or rejecting present realities. We put blinders on to the pieces of life that are too emotionally charged to withstand. When we turn to hope, we often start waiting for things to change rather than taking action on the challenges in front of us.
Though we can visualize the future, we can’t actually live in it — we’re stuck here, now. And the “better future” we long for can only be created in this moment, by working with the present. Pema Chödrön says it perfectly:
“Now is the only time. How we relate to it creates the future.”
We may be stuck here/now, but we still have a choice. Do we choose to turn away from discomfort, grabbing desperately for anything that gives us a sense of stability, relief, or control? Or do we choose to accept the painful, unstable present where things are constantly falling apart – and get to work? Do we keep hoping, clawing, and twisting reality – or do we look it straight in the eye?
Hopelessness isn’t throwing in the towel and giving up. It’s acceptance and action. It’s strength that stands independent of security. It’s a willingness to give up our fantasies. It’s the space where we get real, the space where we heal.
What do I grab for when things become unbearable?
Make a Grab List. Create a note or list in your phone, and write down each thing you grab for when you feel uncomfortable (in real time).
For me, the desire to establish security and exert control often shows up as shopping. This month, each time I find something I want to buy, I’m writing it in this list. At the end of the month, I’ll review – how many of these things do I even want? Are they important, or were they just an escape?
Whether you act on the grabbing instinct is up to you — it’s enough just to start with noticing.
a quote for the road
This is another quote from Pema Chödrön, who’s book When Things Fall Apart (apt title) was the source of inspiration of this newsletter:
“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”
Want to learn together? You can attend my public yoga classes and workshops, schedule a private yoga class, or sign up for a mini coaching session. If you enjoyed this post, you can sign up for my newsletter here.