Hope: The light in the Darkness
HOPE...The Light in the Darkness
Some of my clients have dubbed me “Doc HopeFull”. They have done so because, when they are in very dark places, I often act as a Spiritual Guide to lead them to a Beacon of Light. When I recently did my genealogy, I discovered that almost all of my ancestors were sea-faring folk. Many were sea captains and fishermen who had learned to navigate through stormy waters. They were also keenly aware of the locations of lighthouses and fog horns that could guide their way home. Perhaps this is how I inherited my undaunted hopefulness? Many people struggle in despair and hopelessness at the other end of the spectrum.
I attempt to reassure them that there is light at the end of the tunnel and, if they “keep the long view” and stay focused on the vision, there is some hope that they will come out into the Light.
The movie, “Invictus”, in which Morgan Freeman plays Nelson Mandela, is a depiction of this ability to muster the courage to
trudge on through the darkness. Mandela is portrayed as a man of invincible and unassailable vision who persevered through nearly impossible obstacles to free ALL the people of South Africa from the terrible yolk of apartheid. Another example is U.S. Presidential candidate John Kerry whose slogan was, “Hope is on the way.” He was then followed by Barack Obama whose slogan was, “Yes we can.” Hope springs Eternally from the Souls of such inspiring people.
Hopelessness was very well described by Alighieri Dante when he said of his Inferno (Hell), “All hope abandon, ye who enter here.” Many people live and act as if there are only two poles of hope: hopefulness and hopelessness. Consider that there is a whole spectrum of hope from 0% to 100%. It operates on a gradient from very little hope to lots of hope. If a person projects that there is little hope, then that will most likely be the outcome. If they project that only 5% of people succeed in a particular path, then they will probably wind up among the 95% who fail! Who says that they can't wind up in the 5% success group? Hope is letting go of fear of failure on a given path.
Viktor Frankl, author of: “Man's Search for Meaning”, spent many months in a German concentration camp. He initiated a field called logotherapy which essentially espouses that, “What you project is what you get.” One of the ways that he kept his hope alive was to completely plan a beautiful home for his family which they built when he was liberated by the Allies! C.G. Jung, the psychologist, suggests that we “darken” and “lighten” our challenges by exercising choice. We can choose hope. We can choose to for-give ourselves for an emotional block. Hope is an emotion in the present tense. It is not in the future. By staying in the present and focusing on our vision we can meaningfully thrive. Have you ever noticed how the Light seems to go out in the eyes of a person who has given up on a goal, or mentally slipped away, or is soon to die?
Hope is not the same as optimism. Optimism can lead to “false hope” which is hope built on fantasies and/or nearly impossible outcomes. Hope has the element of confidence that a possible outcome has, in reality, a good chance of actually manifesting.
Consider that hope requires specificity. For example, there is no such thing as a hopeless person! However, a particular person may be hopeless in a particular situation at a particular time. When we navigate through our days in a state of unconditional love we can maintain our hope at the highest realistic level. Many roadblocks, traps and perceived limitations evaporate.
Many people look at uncertainty as a negative experience. It is true that it is not very comfortable. However, we can ratchet up our “uncertainty tolerance” while holding onto our hope. Then out of the cloud of uncertainty a higher vision will be born.
In this way we are amply rewarded for our temporary discomfort. When we choose to face the uncertainty with courage and Buddha-like non-attachment, our flame of hope can burn brightly.
I hope that all your highest aspirations come to fruition!
Richard Merrill Haney, Ph.D. (613) 234-5678