The word hope has such a nice ring to it. When you think of the word hope what comes to
mind? Most people have thoughts like:
- I hope I’ll lose weight
- I hope she does well in school this year
- I hope he calls me
- I hope I get that promotion
- Hopefully I’m not as stressed this year as last
- Hopefully we can have some alone time together this
These all seem like positive thoughts that could be
useful. They all appear to set the tone
for better things to come.
As humans we all desire to have the feeling of hope
sometimes. Like when there’s been a
tragedy somewhere in the world and you hope everyone affected will be ok, then hope
can be comforting.
So if the feeling of hope indicates something positive,
then when is it not helpful? Aren’t we
taught at a young age to wish upon a star and hope for things?
The issue with being hopeful is that it is not a strategy
that gets you what you want and really negates your power. The feeling of hope can be a problem because
it’s passive and doesn’t inspire action. It’s often masking a negative emotion
that you want to feel better about in the future.
By hoping and wishing, you don’t have to challenge
yourself to face things like fear, doubt and uncertainty. Instead you put hope out into your world and
you sit back and wait.
This week I’m going to discuss why being hopeful isn’t
always helpful and a better alternative.
hopeful isn’t always helpful
The problem with hope is two-fold – first it’s passive
and second it creates dependence. Hope
doesn’t create action and it actually keeps you powerless.
If you really think about it, hope leads to inaction and
waiting for some future moment to give you what you want. Hope is dependent on something else and doesn’t
take full responsibility for how you show up and create your life.
Hope is effortless and doesn’t require putting any skin
in the game. It’s like hoping to win the
lottery without ever buying a ticket.
Hope seems nice and useful but it never creates anything
that you really want. When you just hope
for something, you are abdicating responsibility for taking action which means
you are in essence failing ahead of time.
Why would you choose to fail ahead of time? So that you don’t feel vulnerable or disappointed
when you don’t get the results you want.
For example, if you are in a relationship with someone that
isn’t going the way you want it to and you think “I hope he calls me”, the
feeling of hope isn’t useful. The
feeling of hope will lead you to not take action like picking up the phone and
calling him instead of waiting.
If you fear being rejected or disappointed then hope
keeps you “safe” from experiencing those negative emotions. Hope is a buffer that blocks your ability to
take charge, take some action, get a result and then make a new decision based
on whatever result you get.
If you keep hoping he calls you, then you don’t have to
make a decision about whether this relationship is really what you want. If you keep hoping then you don’t have to
take action to either move forward or walk away.
Hope is also a problem because it is a feeling of
expectation where you want a circumstance to be different in the future so that
you can feel differently. You hope for
things like feeling better, for your life to improve or to get to a place of
In this way the feeling of hope comes from wanting this
moment to be different than it is. You
want a circumstance that you don’t currently have because you believe you will
feel better when that circumstance happens.
For example, if you have the thought “I hope she does
better in school this year”, the question you should ask yourself is
“Why?” Why do you hope she does better
in school this year?
It might seem like a silly question to ask but it gets to
heart of why being hopeful isn’t helpful.
When you say “I hope she does better in school this year” it’s probably
masking a feeling of concern or worry which doesn’t serve you or your
The tricky thing about hope is that it seems fine but the
question really is, is it useful? Is
there something more helpful than hope?
A better alternative
As I said before, the problem with hope is two-fold – on
the one hand it doesn’t fuel action and on the other hand it’s dependent on
some future moment to be better than the current moment.
When hope is fueling passive action, it looks like this:
- You hope you can work on being a better parent
so you listen to a podcast on how to parent with a managed mind but don’t do
the thought work advised in the podcast.
- You hope you can get a promotion at work so you
take some continuing education classes in an area of interest but don’t take
the steps to show your boss your added value and discuss how you deserve that
- You hope you can start working on some form of
exercise so you cut out the ad for the new yoga class, put it on the
refrigerator and wait until “the time is right”.
When hope is fueling how you show up in your life, you
appear weak and uncertain. You appear
wishy-washy, lacking determination and energy.
This also affects how show up to others because if you
don’t believe you can do something then why would others believe in you? When you believe, as opposed to hope, you
The interesting thing is that when you focus on hope and
passivity, you will keep recreating the same results. You never give yourself the opportunity to
have the result you really want.
A better alternative is to choose certainty or
determination. Those feelings take you
from where you are to where you want to be.
As a coach I’m less interested in what you are hoping for
and more interested in what you’re committed to or feel determined about. The “how” to getting what you want in your
life is much less important than the feeling that fuels the actions you take.
For example, instead of thinking “I hope I can stop
yelling at my kids one day” you could choose the thought “My relationship with
my children is worth the effort and I am committed to learning how to manage my
emotions”. That thought is much more
focused and will help you to be open and coachable, resulting in learning how
to stop yelling at your kids.
When you don’t just hope for that new job but instead are
committed to getting the job, you open yourself up to taking actions that
weren’t possible from the feeling of hope.
Will you regret being committed and taking action even if you don’t get
the job? Of course not!
Once you’ve taken action from a place of commitment you
now have that experience to build on and the momentum to do the next
thing. Being hopeful that you get the
new job doesn’t create the fuel to take action no matter what, which also slows
The other way that being hopeful isn’t helpful is when
you hope for a circumstance to be different than it is right now. The reason this isn’t helpful is that you are
actually delaying a feeling, waiting for that circumstance to change.
For example, having the thought “I hope she does well in
school this year” is fine if it comes from a feeling of love but if the
underlying feeling is worry, then you are looking for her to do better in
school so you can feel better. If the
feeling you want is love or pride, those feelings are available to you now and
don’t have to be dependent on some future moment in time.
The issue is that when you are hoping for something so
you can feel a certain way, you are denying your ability to feel any emotion
right now. You have the power to feel
any emotion based on the thoughts you choose in this moment without waiting for
some future moment to make it possible.
If you have been practicing thoughts that make you feel
hopeful because you are waiting to feel happy in the future, you are wasting so
much time. You are not taking
responsibility for how you feel right now because you believe that you’ll feel
differently when something changes.
The good news is that if you are hoping for X so that you
can feel Y, you don’t have to wait. You
can create the feeling of Y without X being any different.
When you learn the power of managing your mind by
becoming aware of the thoughts you are currently thinking and how they are
making you feel, you can decide what to think to create the feeling you really want. By stopping being dependent on circumstances
to change to feel better, you take charge of how you create your life.
For example, if you are hoping that your children can
start getting along so that you can feel peace at home then you are dependent
on your children behaving differently. I
don’t know about you, but my children behaved the way they wanted whether I
liked it or not!
Instead of making the feeling of peace dependent on your
children, you can create the feeling of peace right now. Even if your children were acting like
angels, the only thing that would be creating your feeling of peace is the
thoughts you are having about your children.
The best part is that those thoughts are optional and
available at any time. Your children could
be teasing each other, yelling at each other or ignoring each other and you
could have the thought “I just love them and there’s nothing they can do about
No matter how much you believe some future moment will be
better than this present moment, that’s not the case. The only reason you believe that is because
you haven’t worked on the skill of managing your mind.
Instead of waiting to see what will happen or waiting to
see what your future holds, you can create your future on purpose. You don’t create what you want by hoping, you
create it by choosing; choosing feelings that fuel action and choosing to not
delay how you want to feel in the future.
I hope this was helpful…scratch that; I know it was
helpful because I am committed to showing up every week as the best version of
myself, no matter what!
- By hoping and wishing, you don’t have to
challenge yourself to face things like fear, doubt and uncertainty.
- When you just hope for something, you are
abdicating responsibility for taking action which means you are in essence
failing ahead of time.
- Hope is also a problem because it is a feeling
of expectation where you want a circumstance to be different in the future so
that you can feel differently.
- The “how” to getting what you want in your life
is much less important than the feeling that fuels the actions you take.
- When you learn the power of managing your mind
by becoming aware of the thoughts you are currently thinking and how they are
making you feel, you can decide what to think to create the feeling you really
If you’d like some help with switching
from feeling hopeful to feeling committed, please feel free to schedule a free
mini session or email me at email@example.com and we can get to work together.