Abandon Hope – Find Freedom
Someone recently said to me that she was taken with the statement, “Abandon Hope”. I had to pause a bit and really think about this statement. She wasn’t talking about it from the perspective that life is dismal. Rather, she was talking about how abandoning hope brings about freedom – freedom to accept the moment we are living right here, right now. Freedom to put away the “wishing things were different”. Freedom to sink into the moment we are living. I think it falls into the same category of “suffering versus pain”. When we can accept what is, we are released from wishing life were different. Then we can truly live present in the moment.
This past six months, we certainly may have opted to practice these skills like no other. Life changed in March 2020 and finding a new normal rhythm has been tough. No matter how much we complained, struggled, or took a stance that we were not going to live this way, life still happened as it was going to happen. Our work became the work of how to daily manage life in this new way that was anything but normal. How do we accept not seeing the people we love or having our elderly parents receive no company? Or losing a loved one and not getting to have a funeral? How do we miss a season, or two, or more with our grandchildren? or watch our children miss school time? How do we manage our day living in peace and calm versus worry and fear?
Abandoning hope falls into a skill set that we teach from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), called Radical Acceptance. When we really cannot change what is going on, it may be most effective (for our own mental health) to accept things as they are. When we do that, we can move into managing the moment. This is what we have some power over. This is how we can find some peace and calm in the midst of chaos. This is how we can have freedom from what is going on outside ourselves. We settle into our moment and accept what we have right now. This guidance will allow us to really find acceptance and move forward without hoping it changes, or wishing it were different. With this moment, we can really be present and live now regardless of where we are or what is going on.
It turns out that this quote comes from the Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron. She states, “Without giving up hope – that there’s somewhere better to be, that there’s someone better to be – we will never relax with where we are or who we are.” She goes on to say, “Most of us do not take these [difficult] situations as teachings. We automatically hate them. We run like crazy. We use all kinds of ways to escape – all addictions stem from this moment when we meet our edge and we just can’t stand it. We feel we have to soften it, pad it with something, and we become addicted to whatever it is that seems to ease the pain.” (Pawula, 2018)
We have spent a lot of time this year sitting with ourselves in situations that are not our norm. We may have spent the last six months kicking and screaming about what has been happening. Somewhere in this, we may have found a way to settle into acceptance of what is happening right now. We may have moved back and forth between being calm and then not being calm. Wherever you landed with this COVID journey, it has been an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and grow through the difficulty. We may not have been fond of the situation, but if we have grown from it, we have used the experience to come out of this as a better person. Go ahead and “Abandon Hope” for one moment and see if that release will allow you some freedom to be present in this moment where life happens.
Pawula. (2018, March). 48 of the best Pema Chodron quotes for difficult times. Retrieved from https://www.alwayswellwithin.com/: https://www.alwayswellwithin. com/blog/2018/04/07/pema-chodron-quotes-when-things-fall-apartTags: Abandon hope and find peace, suffering comes from nonacceptance, Wanting what isn't
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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