If you're waiting for a change and frustrated it's not happening, maybe it would be beneficial to give up all hope! Sounds strange?
"Hope" is a double-edged word. Hope in its best sense is something that keeps you going in difficult times. It can keep you heading to your heartfelt goals and dreams. Hope can keep you from feeling despair. Positive hope focuses on the good, sending good wishes and positive energy on others, such as, "I hope for world peace." Or "I hope you have a good trip."
But "hope" can also be something that keeps you stuck in a no-win, less than satisfying, situation or relationship. You remain attached to the potential instead of accepting that it is unlikely to change. In a negative sense, it keeps you from gaining clarity and moving forward in your life. Hope can also keep you in agony, feeling discouraged, hopeless, and angry. You are not accepting the reality that no matter how much you want something to be different, it isn't. It's out of your control.
We hold onto memories of ideals that no longer exist. An example of this is your boyfriend used to think you were so smart. He valued your opinion and made you feel more important than anyone. Now he doesn't listen, cuts you off when you're talking, and criticizes and ignores your perspective. And furthermore, he would rather hang out with his friends than spend time alone with you.
Hope Keeps You Stuck
By clinging onto false hope that he will wake up and change, you convince yourself that if you just hang on people, organizations, or situations will shift. But in truth you are sacrificing yourself and your needs and clinging to crumbs. You are denying what you know in your heart of hearts.
Rather than pleading and begging for making a personal connection, having a meaningful two-way conversation about the finances, or transferring to another department, it might be time to give up all hope. While this may sound extreme, it's the only way you're going to get yourself to a place of peace, clarity, and choice.
Giving Up Hope and Acceptance Are Kin
Giving up hope goes hand-in-hand with acceptance. To give up hope you must first accept the objective reality of how things actually are. Then you must accept that more likely than not, the future will be the same as the present. In our example, accept that he no longer takes your opinion into consideration. You must unequivocally accept that nothing you can say or do will change him or her.
Acceptance means truly realizing that you are powerless to make people and things that are out of your control different. You must accept that people and things are the way they are, not the way you want or think they should be.
How to Give Up Hope
1. Write out a list of what you wish was different. Then one by one, repeat, "He will never do... He will never say... He will never be such and such..." For example, my partner will never be affectionate the way I’d like. Or, my boyfriend will never say he loves me. Or, my girlfriend will never invite me to go out with her friends. Or my parent will never stop drinking to excess.
Over and over repeat each item as a statement of fact until you believe it. In the process, I guarantee you'll experience some emotions, namely sadness (hurt and loss of your fantasy), anger (feeling cheated and deceived), and fear (being scared that you'll be on your own and lonely, and wonder what your friends and family will say).
2. Allow yourself to express your natural emotions while repeating your statements, such as "I give up all hope Dan will ever be as affectionate as I want." While expressing your anger, don't focus on him. Just release the pure emotional energy by pounding or stomping, while making sounds or naming what you are feeling - "I feel so mad. I'm angry. Angry. Angry."
When sadness arises as you repeat your statement, encourage yourself to cry. The loss is truly worthy of tears. Just don't put yourself down. “I’m okay. I just need to cry.” Continue keeping your attention on what you are sad about giving up, and what you will miss while saying “Good-bye.”
With fear, while you shiver out the pure energy by shivering, remind yourself, "Everything will be okay no matter what." The fear is huge and keeps you stuck. You might think, "How can I make it on my own financially? I've never lived alone. I'll be in uncharted territory." But rather than giving in to those thoughts, shiver and think "I'm just feeling scared. It's okay. I'll be all right."
3. Keep giving up what you are holding on to. When you comprehend the loss of the first item on your list," repeat this procedure with the next, and then the next.
4. Make a plan. After you’ve laid the foundation by dealing with your inner processes, you will be in a position to set a course of action. You will no longer feel like a victim in your own situation. Rather you’ll most likely feel clarity and strength. It's like you have awakened from a bad dream and now feel in charge of your life.
Contemplate what the next steps in your future will be and lay out how to accomplish them, recognizing what is in your control. This is a time for speaking up and taking action. From a calm space, set explicit announcements, make reasonable request, deadlines, and boundaries. Formulate well-thought-out and doable consequences.
5. Speak them up and follow through on what you say. It will be scary. You’ll question yourself at times, but hold true to the reality that he or it or they won’t change. As you reclaim your personal power and give up hope that he will come to his senses, he might! It's rare, but as you step out of the dysfunctional dynamic, sometimes your shift will be a wake up call and allow for a change in others. Either way, you will no longer be stuck in hopelessness but full of your own personal power.
Recently I had a client who tried this little giving up hope exercise. After she made a list of what she was holding on to and gave up hope that her boyfriend would ever possess those qualities, she realized she needed to live alone and not give into his declarations of love and pleas to give him one more chance let him move back in. Difficult as this was, this gal recognized how destructive it had been to succumb to her old pattern of being a people-pleaser, something she had done since childhood. Now she was ready to strike out on her own.
In another situation a client had to give up all hope that her partner had similar goals and aspirations of a meaningful career and accept that earning enough money to pay the bills was not a high priority for him. She had fallen in love because he was so carefree but came to realize the financial burden it was putting on her. She worked on giving up all hope that he would ever change.
At the point where she got it, she was free to decide whether she needed to adjust her expectations or whether this difference was a deal breaker. Either way, she no longer nagged him and felt lonely and exhausted. She choose to consciously accept the reality, give up her fantasy of having the big house on easy street, and realize what was truly important to her -- love.
By giving up all hope of things that are out of your control, you'll set yourself up to embrace hope for the right reasons - the good and the positive, instead of being a prisoner of your own making. You'll stop wishing and hoping but instead channel your energy into what will feed you.
You'll relinquish comfort of the familiar but put an end to endless waiting. You'll truly honor yourself and be free to create the life to which you are entitled.
©2011, 2016 by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
All Rights Reserved.
Book by the Author
Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
About the Author
Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), an educator in Santa Barbara, California and the author of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life. In 1982, Jude launched a private psychotherapy practice and started working with individuals, couples, and groups. She also began teaching communication courses through Santa Barbara City College Adult Education. Word spread about the success of Attitude Reconstruction, and it wasn’t long before Jude became a sought-after workshop and seminar leader, teaching her approach to organizations and groups. Visit her website at AttitudeReconstruction.com/
* Watch an interview with Jude Bijou: How to Experience More Joy, Love and Peace
* Click here for a video demonstration of the Shiver and Shake Process.