Since I last wrote on here I have been working on an exciting project that has taken up a lot of my time. I have been listening to audiobooks and podcasts, researching and reading articles. As I have been pondering I have also looked at my own life and lessons learnt in light of all these things. The concept I have wrestled with is hope.
For me hope was always something outside of myself that I could stretch towards and have faith in. Hope was an anticipation, an optimistic state of mind, a want, and a deep desire for something almost impossible to imagine. A clear, bright light at the end of a tunnel that calls you and draws you in. That was how I would have defined hope; Hope for something better, a solution or a favourable outcome.
When I remember back to my own situation of years with hospital appointments, trying new treatments, experimental drugs and therapies, meeting with doctors and specialists who were interested in my case, hope was something that again and again was being crushed. I do remember reading the proverb that says ‘hope deferred makes the heart sick’, and I thought it was best to stop hoping all together because it just became another battle to fight. Rather than the light becoming brighter and the end of the tunnel seeming closer, I felt that the light was disappearing all together. I started to always prepare myself for the situation not changing, and the little ray of ‘maybe’ was pushed to the back to not cause any more disappointments. I called it staying realistic, and I found that was a lot easier to live with then clinging to fragile hope that never materialised.
However, the more I have been pondering and trying to understand how to balance hope and realism, I have understood one really important thing. Realistic thinking is where real hope is found! When we face the facts of our situations, whatever that may be, and we spend energy on the things we can control (accepting the things we can’t change), that’s when we can find the balance between realism and aspiration. Once we open ourselves up for realistic optimism that’s when we can start to pursue small victories and one percent growths: those little changes that can make a big difference to our motivation and can drive us forward (even a small step forward is still moving)! Suddenly hope becomes a journey to take alongside and through all the anguish, pain and longing! And a journey is much more manageable then believing in magic!
I will write more on this in another post as well as explore how we can practically use realistic optimism to move forward.