Matthew T. Rippeyoung, M.A., C. Psych. -
No Secrets Here

Choose Hope

Walking through my neighbourhood this weekend, it’s clear that September has arrived.  Moving trucks everywhere, it’s a time when people are starting something new…a new school year, a new lease, and new routines after the dog days of summer have come and gone.  It’s a time of year that can be quite hopeful, and gives us time to reflect.  At the outset of any journey, we are often full of ideas about what will be, how we will be, and what will be different based on our past experiences.  Many times when we’re in the middle of something, it’s hard to think about new possibilities or ways to “course correct” if things are not going as we had planned.  But there’s nothing like a new beginning or a second chance to get us thinking about how we can make the next leg of the journey great.  We love the clean slate of a new year or a new beginning.

The flipside to the hope, however, can be fear.  Self-doubt.  Insecurity.  Can I do the things I’m hopeful about?  Can I really make use of where I’ve been and do it differently this time?  What if this is going to turn out like the last time?  Have I changed any?  Can I change?  What about the factors beyond my control?

We live in a culture that says if you try hard enough, you can do anything.  If you have the “right” attitude, you can make anything manifest.  And then the opposite is also thought to be true—if I don’t get what I want, it’s because of a failing on my part.  I have a different take on this—I’ve seen many people who are working incredibly hard who don’t get what they want through no fault of their own.  We can’t control everything.  But we do have some power to focus on our part in the process of trying to make things happen.

I wish every time I am faced with difficulties I could always choose hope over the fear and self-doubt.  This is the part of the process we can actually control.  Choosing hope allows us to tap into our inner strength.  Choosing hope lets us take risks we might not otherwise take when it comes to asking for help from our friends and family.  Choosing hope helps us to have the freedom to connect with ourselves and what we really want.  Choosing hope FEELS GOOD.  Choosing hope also requires great effort, some times.

When fear and insecurity grab hold of us, it becomes exceedingly hard to choose hope.  The way out of that rabbit hole starts with the recognition that we are overcome with fear and to start challenging those thoughts and feelings.  What if the worst thing happens?  What next after that?  And after that?  When I play this all the way out in my office, it’s not uncommon that people struggle to identify what it is that they are really afraid of, or afraid will happen.  Articulating it can take the power out of the overwhelming feelings.  Often when fear is on deck, we lose the ability to really think thoughts all the way through.  We’re ALL FEELING, like a bundle of raw nerves.  Undoing the gnarled knot of fear and insecurity can bring us back to the place where we can start to choose hope, for real.

Trying our hardest to meet the future with hope isn’t always easy—especially if we are coming off a difficult time—but it isn’t going to hurt us.  Sometimes we are afraid to hope because we’re afraid we can’t bear the disappointment that comes if what we hoped for doesn’t turn out the way we would like it to.  But let’s face facts—it’s a dream to think that we can trick ourselves out of being disappointed or hurt when we are let down.  Let me be clear: choosing hope doesn’t guarantee any outcomes.  Choosing hope won’t make you win the lottery, and it won’t make it so that you don’t have hard times.  Sometimes our lives go sideways and that’s the way it is.  But we can deal with what is, when we see it for that—what is.  Choosing hope helps us to move on and move through that which is difficult.

September, like New Year’s Day, is a time when we’re more likely to be thinking about what lies ahead.  I hope to choose hope as often as I can as we move into the autumn.  I hope you choose hope, too.

20 Comments to Choose Hope:

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Margaret on September-02-14 3:10 PM
Dear Matthew ... thank you for this ... so very articulate and expressive ... I feel stronger and more hopeful after reading today's blog, which BTW ... I needed it today and of late. Choosing hope is such a significant and hopeful matter. :)
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Alan on September-04-14 5:02 AM
Great. Thank you for this. Sometimes fear holds me back, but through naming it and examining it, rather than attempting to bury it, I can often get out of the cycle of negative thoughts. Much appreciated. I am trying to choose hope.
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Michelle on September-04-14 9:06 AM
I HOPE to someday get past the fear of the unknown and be free to make the hard decisions I need to make!!!
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