The Hopeless Nature Of Hoping

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality.”

– VIETNAM WAR. ADMIRAL JAMES STOCKDALE 

Do you want to know the one reason you’re not happy right now? 

It’s because you’re hoping for something different. 

It’s as simple as that. 

By wishing for something different your perception of what reality should be crashes against what is. This friction is the source of all your suffering. 

You cannot alter reality. Only your perception of it, your acceptance of it.

Reality is perfectly happy being the fucked up place it is because it can’t be anything else.

It was just as fucked before you were born as it will be the day after you die. 

Stop hoping for something different. 

Either Act Or Accept. 

These are far better choices than hoping.

Do you want to know why you’re in the mess that you are?

It’s because you were sold a dummy by a society that has glorified hope. With the movies and TV shows you watch. The super hero who swoops in to save the day at the final hour. You cling to that, waiting for your knight in shining armour to save you.

It’s true to say hope can serve as temporary relief from your current pain, but that’s about all one can say. 

Do you know what else achieves the same? 

Taking drugs. Drinking alcohol. Binge watching NETFLIX. 

How have those things worked out for you in the past?

What has hope really done for you?

It’s another form of avoidance, of distraction. 

What happened to your hope when coronavirus fucked up all your plans last year? What happened to your hope when your government repeatedly failed you? 

Is hope going to get us out of this mess?

No.

Fuck hope. 

You’re the super hero of your own reality. You control yourself, your thoughts and the way you look at the world. 

Fuck hope. 

Hope is an excuse not to do what you can. 

Hope is an excuse to say these problems are beyond you, to say they are beyond all of us. 

Hope is saying all will be ok when I die and go to heaven. 

Fuck hope. 

Hope is what led you to hopelessness when the world didn’t live up to your expectations. 

And let me tell you, living in hopelessness is an equally terrible place because that isn’t based in reality either. 

Act or Accept. 

Those are your choices.

I’ll say one more thing before I wrap up.

Letting go of hope isn’t about being overly pessimistic – it’s about coming back to reality and seeing it for what it is. 

Hopelessness is being overly pessimistic. 

If you have clothes on your back, food on the table and a roof over your head. If you can breathe…!

I’d say there is more right with you than not. 

The best things in life haven’t changed because you lost your job or your wife left you. 

Taking a shit or having a wank is just as wonderful with zero dollars in the bank as it is with billions (sorry, I meant feeling the cool breeze on your skin or listening to the birds chirping in the morning – yeah those things too).

Will this message inspire you in some way?

Who knows. 

All I can do is reinforce the narratives that help me and see if it helps others.

Maybe it will, maybe it won’t.

Either way, I’m not holding onto any hope.


(Thanks for reading ladies and gentlemen. I hope (ha) you enjoyed it. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Sometimes I take a position on a topic to challenge myself (and you) to think differently, even if I don’t entirely agree with the argument. Do I really think that hope is such a terrible emotion? No, of course not. Hope is a very important emotion designed to inspire action. But here is what I did take from this post – hope without action is dangerous. Hoping for things out of your control (as I learnt the hard way this past year) is truly awful for your mental health. Hope only for yourself, for the things that you can control. And then take action to make it so. For everything else you can’t control – I suggest you practise acceptance instead. With that said I’m curious what your thoughts are on the topic of hope? As always I welcome ALL comments and opinions. Wishing you well, AP2 🙏)

***

You can see find more of AP2’s nonsensical world views and poor self-help advice here at: https://clear-air-turbulence.com

27 thoughts on “The Hopeless Nature Of Hoping

Add yours

  1. I agree completely, AP2! Hope without action gets you nowhere. More and more I find myself reciting the Serenity Prayer: “To accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; And wisdom to know the difference.” Thanks for your always direct and spot on way of saying it like it is!

    Liked by 7 people

    1. That’s a great prayer – put far more eloquently than I! You’re welcome firefly and thank you for your comments. Sometimes I write from the heart. At other times from the gut. Maybe one of these days I’ll try writing with my head 😂 Wishing you well 🙏

      Liked by 2 people

  2. A thought-provoking post. I don’t think we disagree on the practical application, just the semantics, AP. I think that hope motivates action. After you have done all that you can do, you accept that the rest is out of your hands. Though I am not a religious person, I think that the Serenity Prayer, as a curious firefly says, has it right. Best wishes for a great weekend! ❤

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you Cheryl. The post was more about challenging the way we like to think. That said I tend to believe many of us place an inordinate amount of hope on things we have no control. I certainly agree that hope is designed to inspire action. For many the problem is that they don’t take action they need to. They cling to hope without doing anything – a bit like clinging to happiness – and that is dangerous in my book. You end up feeling it’s opposite. Best wishes to you too Cheryl. I sincerely hope you have a good one 🙏😊

      Liked by 2 people

  3. ‘Fuck hope!’ is a pretty harsh litany there, AP2. I did read your cautious caveats at the bottom, and I agree with the act or accept idea to help stimulate some sort of equilibrium. But hope? We must agree to disagree on this one. Hope, to me, is what strengthens my source of bravery; something I would have never been able to act upon if I didn’t have the hope of coming out of it alive. When you get into the cockpit of a plane, you must have a certain amount of hope that you’ll be able to land safely in order to even turn the thing on, right? I send my child off to school and hope she’ll be alright, even when I can’t act upon the outcome, or even accept the possibility that the outcome can be anything other than her safe return. If I accepted the possibility of her not returning safely, would I even allow her to go? Hell no! So hope keeps me, personally, able to function, able to tap into my braver inner self which allows me to act even when my scared inner monkey mind wants to crawl into a hole and hide. I am a fighter in every way, and I can’t do that without hope, because I fight to stay alive.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The post was more of a thought experiment than a rational piece of writing. Fuck hope is indeed a very harsh litany. I don’t, as it happens, disagree with you. I was trying to upset the applecart to see what response it gets. I’m glad you spoke up in defence of hope. Still, don’t you think there might be occasions we’re hoping doesn’t serve you? My feeling is if you’re hoping you’re not happy – because you want something to be different. If you can’t control something why waste time and effort hoping? When I fly I’m in control of the outcome so I hope I can deal with what might happen. But that hope is paired with action. I’m always taking action to prepare for the worst case scenario. I’m always thinking about what might happen and how things might go wrong because that’s life. Shit happens. If I’m the passenger I don’t hope. I simply enjoy the flight. I have no control so I let go. I accept what may. If I was hoping we make it there safely without being in control of anything it would drive me nuts. Of course I expect I will make it to my destination safely because I have no good reason not to. But hoping? I don’t stand around hoping I don’t have a heart attack for the same reason. But it’s a possibility. If you’re always hoping for the best, when that doesn’t happen it will crush you. Living in acceptance for what is now rather than living in hope for what might be in the future is better for your mental health if you ask me.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh yes, I do agree with your idea, it is very true within those conditions. I wonder if maybe we need more words, like variations of hope? Can’t think of any at the moment, because my brain is sleepy and fuzzy. Thanks for the think! Hope I didn’t come off as too harsh, but while trying not to use it as a crutch, I remain firmly a hope champion. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Not at all. To be honest the post was deliberately provocative which was a bit mean on my part. I often write to challenge conventional wisdom rather than argue what it is I actually believe. That’s why I always say my writing requires a pinch of salt. I find it makes for interesting discussions. (I also find it interesting that my ego gets attached to words I’ve written even if I don’t agree with it myself. So I’m
        also trying to break down the part of me that has trouble with criticism by becoming comfortable with it – strange tactic I know.) Ultimately I think it’s a good thing that you’re a champion of hope. I am too at the end of the day. Truth is we can’t live without it. It’s a necessary emotion. Rest assured you will always get a civilised response from me. I take no offence. I sincerely hope (ha) you’re having a wonderful weekend 🙏

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I have given up on reality and will settle for a happy fantasy.

    There is a lot of Zen in this post. There’s a lot of Stoicism. It mirrors the lessons of Radical Acceptance, a branch of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in psychology. I see it reflected in the works of people as diverse as Viktor Frankl and Albert Camus.

    But… I think you give hope a raw deal. It was the last thing to come out of Pandora’s box and made all the other evils bearable. If there is a 99% chance of death and a 1% chance of life, hope is what keeps you struggling for the 1% instead of quitting and dying comfortably. You hope that the unlikely good thing will happen because there is no future in the probable bad thing. Hope is what keeps you acting when action seems futile. Hope is why we can take a risk.

    The opposite of hope is not pessimism, it is despair. You can be a pessimist and still have hope. (Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.) Focusing on the good things that can come from winning rather than the lethargy of neutrality or on the pain and exhaustion of losing. If I didn’t hope for something I’d nave take action to further it.

    I am NOT a big fan of “the power of positive thinking” because I believe thinking has to be neutral or it reaches invalid conclusions. Hope is an *emotion* to be called upon as needed and (at least for me) not a way of life.

    Hope CAN be a form of laziness. It CAN cause you to take unnecessary and bad risks. It CAN be a mask to hide the fear of taking action. I think that is what you were aiming for.

    So hope has to be based in the reality of the situation.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. You’ve hit the nail on the head. Yes the post was unfair to hope. I’m the first to admit that. It was an experiment in writing. I was having a little fun truth be told. Anyway I did want to challenge the notion that hope is this kind of panacea emotion that so many make it out to be.

      You’re right, hope has everything to do with expectations. When things are incredibly dire then it becomes very important for survival. But in everyday life it is far more important we hope for things we can control – for realistic outcomes. Better than being an optimist or a pessimist is to be a realist.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I think you’ve taken a very balanced view on the emotion. Wishing you well 🙏

      Liked by 2 people

  5. “You cannot alter reality. Only your perception of it, your acceptance of it”.

    Beautiful words.
    We either ACT or ACCEPT.
    I wrote a post about not losing hope some time ago. Reading this, I feel guilty. 😁
    I also wrote a post on Patience, and you shared your amazing thoughts on it.
    Some may consider your words “harsh”, but you wrote nothing but the truth.
    I enjoyed the post. Thanks. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you freethinker – I appreciate your comments. They’re just words at the end of the day but they were a little provocative. I was a little hesitant to publish truth be told – not sure how it might be received. Of course I can’t control what others think/will say. Worrying about that is a mistake. I have to be me. I also believe in writing dangerously. Ultimately I decided that I believe in the message. Or at least I believe in challenging the notion that hope is always seen as this kind of panacea emotion in modern society. I see a very obvious problem with hoping all the time! That’s really what I wanted to highlight with this post. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Yes. Yes, yes, YES. While I do believe in hope—“Hope is a good thing: maybe even the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.”—but I agree wholeheartedly with your call to action. Hope without action is nothing but a dream.🕊

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you Snapdragon. This is one of my posts that most definitely requires a pinch of salt. Hope is a prerequisite for action. We need hope like a tree needs sunshine. Of course. But I believe there is a danger with hoping all the time. With this narrative that hope is everything. That we should always live in hope. Sometimes yes, but definitely not always. Hope is about survival. When our backs are against the wall – hope gives us the little bit extra when we need it most. And we should hope for a better future but not at the expense of appreciating what it is we already have. We do far too much hoping in modern life. And spend far too little time practising acceptance for what is. For our very real limitations. Far too little time being grateful for what we have. That’s not to say we should give up hope but ultimately we all have to reckon with our own mortality. It’s acceptance that brings us peace, not hope. This piece was ultimately about forcing some deeper thinking on the subject. It is heartening to see so many stand up for hope though. I excepted nothing less. I like your last statement a lot “Hope without action is nothing but a dream.” I really appreciate your thoughts/support SnapDragon. Wishing you well 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What leads to suffering? Unmet expectations. And yet, hopelessness as you say, is not the answer to living either. The past year has taught me to value more the little things, to be more present in the moment rather than dwelling on a hoped plotted for destination in the life journey. But hope inspires and a creature without hope is a creature that will soon cease to be. Better to hope and endeavor to hit the target. Even if we miss abismally, at least we try with bravery. A tree grows. A flower blooms. A bird flies. Within all of these lies hope.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s very well said. Hope is a prerequisite for action. However wants, desires, hopes, dreams… We need to be careful what (and how much) we wish for in life. Nothing wrong with ambition but if all you ever do is hope for something else – I think that’s a problem. The post itself was very much about challenging the perception that hope is the panacea to all our problems. Perhaps it’s not? If you’re hoping you’re not seeing what’s in front of you. The small things you mention that make life so beautiful. Live in acceptance for what is. Be grateful for you have. And yes have hope for your ability to make things better. But make sure that hope is tied to action. I would argue not to hang hopes on events out of ones own control. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts 🙏

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Two remarks:

    “Act or accept”!
    Exactly!

    “It’s because you were sold a dummy by a society that has glorified hope. With the movies and TV shows you watch. The super hero who swoops in to save the day at the final hour. You cling to that, waiting for your knight in shining armour to save you.”
    ahm…. many fellow humans lost themselves in this brave new world and are helplessly and hopelessly waiting to be saved by the external structure (government, church, science etc). Unable to feel happy without a promising future…. future promised by those same external entities.
    I´ll pass, thank you. Instead of waiting to be saved and rescued by heroic structure, I prefer freedom of movement and entrepreneurship, so I take care of myself and my family and help other humans do the same, if I can. I want the freedom to use my own head to think and figure out what to do and how to do it…. and more and more often I find myself alone in this endeavour. Been called “weird” only last week for not taking the news-drug 6x a day…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I echo your thoughts about freedom. It goes hand in hand with personal responsibility- the more responsibility we take for our own lives the more freedom we are afforded.

      Avoiding the news is a smart move. Too much of it and we end living in a different reality to our own -and that’s not good!

      Stay present. Take stock of what it is you have. Be grateful for that. Act to make changes if you feel the need. Otherwise accept your current reality as is. Living in acceptance is a much nicer place to be than living in hope.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Wishing you well 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

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