11-27-22 Hope and Fear

Hope and Fear

Hope – “To desire with expectation of obtainment.” (How can I get what I want from this?)
Fear – “Intense reluctance to face or meet a person or situation.”(How can I avoid what I don’t want to deal with?)

Hope may have been, or is still, a necessary part of our recovery. We may have needed hope that there was a way out of our hell in order to begin healing. We have now learned that any vision of hope must be followed by action for anything to actually happen.  Abandon any hope of a different past, — or a better future. What we are is because of what we have done. What we will become depends on what we DO NOW. Right action based on our right view. A healthy view, has nothing to do with hope or fear, but only reality, acceptance and action. 

Our addiction has brought into the spotlight our hopes and fears magnified to the point of our not being able to deny the destructive nature of our thoughts and actions, on ourselves and on others. Brought into the light of our awareness, we step into recovering from our primary addiction or obsession, but that addiction is just a symptom of our problems. The same demons will continue to haunt and affect our lives, in ways not as obvious or deadly, but still in negative and harmful ways that keep us unhappy and away from our spiritual center.

We keep hoping to get what we want by forcing our way, or alternately, are afraid to step into something we know to be right but feel a fear of extending and exposing ourselves. What will others think? What if I am wrong, I don’t want to rock the boat. If I stay invisible maybe fewer bad things will happen, I don’t want to be responsible. I can’t look at myself.
Stepping into fear is how fearlessness comes about.

Motivated by hope, but then confronted by failure, we become depressed and demoralized. Rather than inspiring and motivating us, hope has become a burden made heavy by its companion, fear of failing. So we have to abandon hope, and learn how to find the place “beyond hope and fear.” This is a familiar concept in Buddhism, yet little known in Western thinking. Liberated from hope and fear, we are free to discover clarity and energy. The journey there demands behaviors we’re not familiar with or have actively avoided.

A willingness to feel insecure, to drop our defenses, is the first step on the journey beyond hope and fear. It leads to the far more challenging state: groundlessness. Nothing ever remains the same,  we learn to live with, and accept completely, the unrelenting constant of change, realizing that even the good things won’t last forever. And “good” is only my personal judgement.

The present moment is the only place of clear seeing, unclouded by hope or fear. We learn to acknowledge and accept our past through not denying any part of who we are, and working to amend, have counseling if needed, and work in a program with the past, so we no longer regret anything. We can then use what we have learned from the past to inspire us to move forward in healthy ways. Our past was and is essential to our recovery. We could never have gotten here, if we had not been there. But we need to use the past as a learning experience, not a barrier that we keep replaying that keeps us from moving forward. 

We can consciously choose to open to the feelings of health and joy and curiosity that life naturally contains in the NOW. We don’t have to hope we will be happier someday, or fear that we never will be happy, we can choose, the best we can, to not be dark and negative, to come from our innate sense of contentment and kind strength. Regret and fear will still arise but we choose to let them go the best we can, and re-set our attitude. You will miss the edginess of judging and condemning yourself and others, but your faith in belonging, kindness and engagement, will slowly replace the old darkness if you persist in being positive, kind and open. 

There are actual physical pathways in the brain that exist because of their being used. Just like a path through the woods, if it is used a lot it becomes an easier and famaliar place to move in. When we deviate from the famaliar path it takes an awareness of what we are doing and a discipline to do so. It is more diffficult at first. If we quit walking on the old path long enough it will fill in, and our new pathway will be our famaliar, clear and primary means of travel.

Beyond hope and fear, freed from success or failure, I’m learning what reality feels like, feeling its clarity and energy. I still get angry, and frustrated. But I choose to no longer be driven, controlled by these emotions. I’ve learned to pause, BREATHE, come back to the present moment, and calm down. Relax the shoulders, take a deep breath or two, relax, open up the mind to the reality that I can choose to engage in a positive, healthy sense of stepping into life. Am I able and willing to have the discipline to be kind to myself for a few seconds? This becomes possible when I become present in the moment, and clarity emerges undimmed by hope and fear. Then I think and act, from a place that has a broader vision of what is healthy, beyond my small self of grasping or avoiding. Use the Breath, often, to step back into clear seeing and acceptance.

Perhaps most importantly, I begin to believe in myself. I begin to touch into a deeper sense of connection to a power greater than my personal hopes and fears. A connected self that cannot be demeaned or frightened away. I may experience some doubt, but I know I CAN step through it and hold my heads up. I find faith in myself and my path, which brings courage. I may have had to start with hope, but soon I begin to have faith and just commit to the path. Like taking poison, which we have all done, when we stop, we begin to heal.

I seemed to find hope in AA that I could recover from alcoholism. What I really found, through others who went before me and shared their experience with me, was the recognition of the capacity within myself, to honestly face who I am, how the world is, and to choose to live more honestly, more fearlessly, with a kind and gentle heart. This takes effort and resolve. With practice I begin to relax into the flow of life, while still being able to deal with all the ups and downs. Big Book of AA

“Hope is an addiction to the idea that things would be better if they were somehow different.” Pema Chodron.
Quit hoping, quit fearing, have faith in yourself and the universe, and begin to really live, right here, right now. That is freedom.


How do you fill your bucket? One drop at a time
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step
The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for
May you be well. May you be happy. May you find peace.

Heart Of Recovery web site  — fcheartofrecovery.com