The Radical Practice of Giving Up Hope

Perhaps like me you have been fighting to hold on to your hope for a better future in the face of what may seem like a world gone mad with no leadership in sight able to get our systems back on course. How often have we been told, "Don't lose hope!" But I have come to realize that hoping for a solution actually helps keeps me stuck waiting for the old systems to do something they were never designed to do: change.

I have found that can even be true on a very personal level – in relationship. How often have I found myself hoping that I would change or hoping that someone else in my life would change? How often have I stayed in a bad situation, a job, a relationship, a pattern of thinking, because I had hope that it would get better.

How often have I clung to my old ways of being hoping and waiting for them change? If I just read enough, pray enough, or think positively enough…

Yes, hope can keep me stuck – tethered to an old dynamic, waiting for something new to happen while I am continuing to do the same things over and over (can anyone say definition of insanity?)

This is why I have now adopted the radical practice of Abandoning all Hope.

The moment I catch myself hoping that something inside of me or outside of me would be different I stop. I breathe. I ask myself, “What would it be like if I were to give up hope that this thing, this situation, this part of me, or this person I am in relationship with would change?” And as I do this, I find that either a huge wave of fear or huge wave of relief washes over me.

If I feel fear, that is a signal that there is healing work for me to do. I grab a Phase Three worksheet from The Q Process shadow work practice and dive in to find out what I am afraid of and how I can face the fear and love the fearful part of me back to wholeness.

If I feel relief, then I know it’s time to let go of that hope and replace it with a loving acceptance. This is especially true when it comes to wishing that I would be different.

How often do we forget that who we are in any given moment is just one possibility in an infinite number of potentials. It's true that we are made up of past conditioning and the choices we have made up to this now moment, yet we also have open to us the option of making a radical shift in our lives at any given moment.

The trouble is that a radical departure comes at great cost - the old has to be released to make room for the new. And as hard as that is, releasing the old is only the first step of several steps required of us if we are going to create true transformation in our lives, in the world. We will refuse to let go of the old as long as we have hope that it will get better. Giving up hope allows us to make space for and lean into entirely new ideas about what else could arise that might serve us better.

Then comes the practice. As I try on the new idea of radical self-acceptance, I am actually asking myself to adopt a new behavior (even though I am accepting myself just as I am – not good at self-acceptance). At first I will be very unskilled at it. I will try and fail. I will go back to my old hope-filled ways, back to wishing I was better at accepting myself and hoping that I will be better at it soon. I will bargain for a different path to self-acceptance as I find this new one to be too hard to hold. But, if I am diligent and continue to simply give up hope that it will be easy, or that I will change, and keep leaning into loving acceptance of where I am in this given moment, eventually the new skill takes hold.

It’s a paradox: Change only happens when we are committed to seeing and loving ourselves exactly where we are.

When you approach your Q Process practice from this perspective, the work becomes a joy, an adventure even, rather than a punishment or payment in the demand for self-evolution. It can even be a loving gift of self-acceptance as you complete each new worksheet with the intention of knowing yourself and loving yourself more fully right where you are.

And so I invite you to give up hope and opt instead to see the power of potential in loving acceptance - radically accepting ourselves and others exactly where we are now. It just might be the greatest gift you have ever given yourself.

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