Hope and I have a rocky relationship. Recently after a conversation with Cameron Chell, I decided to take a closer look at Hope and my relationship with it. We are born with hope. It drives us. Without hope, we would not learn to walk or talk. It is our innate need to hope which ensures we become better, do better, and strive for better.
Hope and I used to be very close. I embraced it and believed without a doubt it would always come through. I had little reason to believe otherwise because I was the type of person who didn’t need to make contingency plans, everything worked out. I got what I wanted and was rarely surprised. I had complete confidence in my future and myself, even if those around me told me they doubted my ability, I did not. So, when the carpet was ripped out from under me and I had my first set back, I was not prepared for the fallout.
In 2006, I tried to buy a business and failed. I lost money, my confidence, my voice, and my power. My husband poured all his frustration, anger, and disappointment onto me to take control of my future. There are plenty of reasons why I allowed him to hammer nails into my entrepreneurial spirit and take away my voice, my dreams, and my desire for better, but they are for a different story.
After this event, I no longer had any power. What I wanted no longer mattered. I had no control of my life. I no longer cared about anything. I gave up and moved in with hopelessness. Seven years later, my husband demanded a divorce and I entertained inviting Hope back into my life, but all I found in the dating pool was rejection and more failure. So, I kicked hope to the curb once more and wallowed in hopelessness.
Luckily, hope is embedded in our DNA and never really goes away. It can be embraced at the smallest glimmer of light in the distance. As I rebuilt my life, I begrudgingly admit hope has been there showing me what is possible and at times, I have believed it. That does not mean I fully embraced it, I did not trust it.
Last week, as I listened to Cameron Chell talk about how to overcome self doubt, I had a visceral reaction to his solution. I was looking forward to discovering how this man, who does impossible things, can even have self doubt, let alone how he manages it. I was leaning in to my computer, engrossed in what he was saying when he dropped the bomb - his solution to managing self doubt is hope. It felt like I’d hit a wall because there is no way I trusted hope enough to help get through anything, let alone self doubt. I said something about hope sending her sister disappointment so often, I didn’t think hope would help. His response was to shine a light on my problem with Hope - I had allowed expectation to crash the party.
I sat with this for awhile after the call and thought back on the times in my life when I kicked hope to the curb and discovered expectation was to blame. I had expected the bank would give me the loan to buy the wholesale business. I had no doubt it would happen. I believed 100% in myself and my future and couldn’t wait to get started. I expected everything to go right and was not prepared for it to go so wrong.
Expectation is believing an exact result will occur and there is no room for any other option. It’s black and white. When it doesn’t work out, there is no where else to go. Hope is about possibility and options. It’s dreams, not facts. When things don’t go a certain way there are other dreams and possibilities to replace the original hope. We can live without expectation and in doing so, we open ourselves up to possibility and opportunity because expectation no longer obstructs our view. Without expectation we can find contentment, happiness, and new beginnings.
Without hope we only exist. The darkness of hopelessness pushes on us until we are but a shadow of ourselves, living so far below our potential we don’t even register. We shut down until we are nothing. I’ve been there more than once in my life.
Is hope without expectation possible?
Can we hope for something and not expect it to occur? Can I hope APeeling will succeed and still believe in myself if it does not? If I believe in myself and yet have no success to back-up my belief, is my belief wrong? Or is my hope in a possible future success enough?
I do not expect my relationship with hope to be perfect or even consistent. It will take time to understand and rebuild it. For now, it is enough to be open to its possibility without measuring the result to ensure expectations are met. I’ve read about hope and its place in our lives. The two books which stood out as textbooks on the topic are, Everything is F*cked and Man’s Search for Meaning.
In his book, Everything is F*cked, Mark Manson explores what hope is and society’s use of it. How it fails us and how people are manipulated by others welding it. In the book he tells story after story about our emotional and rational reaction to hope. He brings in proof of our need for hope as proven by study after study. However, in the end he concludes, “Instead of looking for hope, try this. Don’t hope. Don’t despair, either. In fact, don’t deign to believe you know anything. Don’t hope for better, just be better. Be something better. Be more compassionate, more resilient, more humble, more disciplined. - Be a better human.”
In Dr. Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, it is not hope but meaning which defines one’s ability to survive uncontrollable circumstances. The book tells about his life in multiple concentration camps in Germany during World War 2 and the psychological theory he developed from the experience. He told one story about his friend who dreamed he would be free from the camp on March 30th. He died March 31st.
He relayed the finding of a Nazi doctor who noticed there was a spike in deaths during December 1944 and January 1945. It was concluded the spike resulted because people hoped they would be home by the Hanukkah and when they weren’t, their hopes were dashed, they gave up, and died. Mark Manson wrote a similar account about prisoners of war in Vietnam. Those who perished had hoped they would be released at a certain time and died soon after those deadlines passed.
Dr. Frankl does not dismiss hope, his theory is centred on life’s meaning and living for our purpose in the distant undisclosed future. He stated, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” To him, hope is not tied to an expected result based on actions beyond our control. Hope is tied to our purpose, our reason for living, and our actions to move forward during dark times. He discovered the only thing which cannot be taken from us is how we chose to react to the actions and events outside of ourselves.
To put it into current context, we cannot control the Coronavirus pandemic and the economic outcome of government directed shut down of non-essential businesses. What we have control over is how we react during this time. We can focus on scary news stories and dwindling bank accounts or we can seek-out opportunities to fulfill our purpose and bring meaning to our lives. Hope, expectation, belief, disappointment, failure, and hopelessness are intricately woven in the fabric of our dreams, goals, and plans.
The recipe of success is filled with a variety of ingredients with varying amounts and individualized directions. What works for one, does not always work for another. However, in every recipe for success there must be a large serving of hope tied to purpose and action, to drive us forward. Expectations need not be added.
Shannon Peel is the driving force behind the MarketAPeel brand and it's multiple platforms, APeeling, UnPeeled, A Peeled, The Book Bag, and more to come... She is an author, a content creator, a business promoter, a publisher, and so much more. Follow her journey as she strives to create something bigger than herself.