How Does Hope Help?

“True forgiveness is when you can say, thank you for the experience.”
                                                                                             -Oprah Winfrey

Hope can be a wonderful emotion to feel. We all need hope. In November, hope can be especially helpful. It can be difficult to be close to a family celebration when so much is unresolved in us with our families, and when our family experiences have been very difficult. We also get filled with “shoulds” during this time. It could go something like this, “I don’t want to go but I should go.” Or, it could go like this, “I don’t want to invite them but I feel I should.” Having hope helps us get through times like this. “I hope all goes well, or that so and so is kind to me, or I don’t get triggered, or so and so doesn’t get triggered, etc.”

When we are little, hope helps us get through very difficult times. Hope is a great help. We need hope sometimes to just carry on and survive. When we feel alone and when we isolate ourselves, being able to integrate all our feelings and all our pieces helps us to move to having real hope. There is hope for happiness, for health, for wholeness, for vitality. When we are able to become one with the truth of ourselves and others, we begin to be able to nurture us at a very deep level and this nurturing leads to hope.

I was working with a woman who is going through a tough time. She has a job she enjoys, but finds she is being triggered by a boss who doesn’t see her clearly, likes to work with men over women, and who reminds her of both her mother and her father in their worst traits. The more she is there, the angrier she becomes. She also gets filled with shame and the old feeling of not being good enough.

As we spoke I asked her what drew her to this particular woman to ask her to work for her. She said that she is a master gardener, that there is a lot she can learn from her, and she really wants to be able to grow and make her own food and this would give her the skills to do so. I asked her who this reminds her of… The archetype of a mother. We spoke of her needing to take time to really grieve not having what she felt she needed from her mother. And yes, she has done this a lot over the years. As we continued to talk she began to realize that yes, she had felt her feelings and grieved, except that she still gets angry and still gets pulled into being with people who remind her of her mother. I suggested that her very young self who needed to have hope to survive hadn’t gotten on board yet to accept the mother she had and to grieve that she will never get what she wanted and felt she needed from her mother. She was still stuck in “hoping”. 

Most of the time, hope is a good thing. Yet, when we are stuck in wanting something from someone who couldn’t or can’t give us what we wanted, we are like hamsters on a wheel. We go around in circles and unconsciously keep inviting the very dynamic to us over and over again. In her case, she looks for someone to be for her what her mother couldn’t. As she is able to accept her mother and her circumstance exactly as they were, and to know that is the way it was, and from her mother, the way it will be, her little self can then really grieve what she couldn’t have. Her pieces can come together and then something new opens inside of her. Now she can nurture herself at a deep level, and then can have the true hope of being whole in her life. 

Shift Your Story: Guided Visualization/Meditation

We are going to do a little meditation together. Go and sit somewhere comfortable where you can put both feet on the ground. Breathe deeply and center yourself. Take a couple more breaths and feel your body on your chair or sofa. Take a minute and let a situation come to you that feels unresolved; one maybe when you were even small. This could even be what you don’t or didn’t like about your mother or father or caretaker or sibling. See that person or persons in front of you. As you see them in your mind’s eye, look at them as wholly as possible; see their bad traits and things they did or said to you, or didn’t do or say, and also see what they did do or say to ways in which they might have done or said helpful things to and for you. See the whole as much as you can. Just breathe with it, and be as far away as you need to while looking at them as completely as possible. Give the little person inside of you a chance to feel their feelings again…this could be a yearning, a helplessness, a sadness, an anger, all that comes up. Talk to your little one and let her/him know that yes that is the way it was, and you had to cope with this your whole life. Let the emotions flow while you also are aware of and hold your older selves with you, so you are together with as many parts of yourself as possible. If a small part gets too vigorous or carried away, hold that part of yourself and reminds her/him that they are older now, you are with her/him, and you now have the ability to step away as you didn’t when small. See as much of the whole picture as possible. Then in your minds eye, let that person or image go. Do this again with another image that comes up, or memory, and go through the process. If it is appropriate, do this one more time. Hold all your parts and feel your center and your feet on the ground and the weight of your body on the chair. Slowly open your eyes.

How do you feel? Was this meditation helpful, or not? If not, in what ways was it not helpful? What were you able to do, and not able to do? In what ways was it helpful? Write down what comes to you from this meditation and if you feel like it, drop me a line and let me know how it went for you, and if you feel stuck, please also feel free to contact me. Hope is necessary to survive, and it is possible.

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