Don’t Let Hope Guide Your Life

I learned this lesson the hard way

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Have you ever find yourself “hoping that things would be better?”

Well, I have. However, I realized that in many cases in the past that is all I did: “Hoped.” This made me understand that hope itself means nothing. It’s just a feeling, and we shouldn’t always rely on our feelings. In some cases, we tend to give them more value than we should.

By no means, I mean that we should suppress our emotions and completely ignore them. Though, it’s very important to learn how to “filter” them. As Rolf Reber, Ph.D., a cognitive psychology professor concludes in his article “Can we trust our feelings” we “should take feelings seriously as signals, but not uncritically.”

Additionally to what Dr. Reber mentions, I would say that we shouldn't accept passive feelings as “life guides”, either. I often used to do this when bad occurrences arose, and I just hoped that the passing of time would resolve them. To be honest, in reality, I relied more on luck than my ability to act and come up with viable solutions.

To give you an example, in the last few months, I gained a significant amount of weight back (around 17 kg/37 lbs) and found myself drowning quite often in self-pity parties hoping things would be different. Battling my whole life with obesity, such a setback in my weight loss journey made me also regain the mentality I once had, even though I wasn’t at the place where I used to weigh 108 kg/238 lbs, meaning there is still a significant difference.

That made me understand that “hope” played an important role in hindering my progress, both weight-wise and life-wise. You see, I can sit here and list many misfortunes that I endured during the last few months, but at the end of the day, my response to them was what shaped my situation.

To be honest, I don’t quite regret how I reacted to my “misfortunes” because, eventually, it all worked out in a way that I am now wiser than I would have been if events had taken another course.

But the problem is that I let hope guide me more than I should have. It made me passive and take things as they came when I shouldn't have and the great evidence for that is my current situation that is a result of me being proactive. It’s a result of me deciding to take risks, move out during a pandemic without having a stable job and make me a priority over excuses, what-ifs, and mere hopes for a better future.

Now, I am not yet in the place I want to be, but neither where I used to be a month ago. I’ve started working, my eating habits are better, I am getting creative again coming up with ideas for projects, reaching out for other opportunities in fields/ (carrier) paths that I want to pursue, etc.

It doesn’t matter that everything is not perfect, but it does matter that I have stopped hoping and started acting.

Final thoughts

So, is hope a worthless feeling? Apparently, when your whole life strategy depends on it, yes, it is. Thus far, my experience taught me that passive emotions such as hope should guide, only when necessary, the final stages of executing a plan of any kind; life plans, business plans, whatever. Meaning, hope, and any other passive emotion should be taken seriously when there isn’t another thing to do left.

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