What would the human world be without it? Without the idea that there is something to look forward to, something to hold on to? Perhaps, nothing.
We all need to go about our lives with a sense of hope to be able to face adversities and difficult circumstances. Without the idea or feeling that there is something worthwhile at the end of the deep, dark tunnel, it can be difficult to go on.
At times, this very hope can become the source of our existence. We create a life that surrounds this idea that maybe someday, something will change in our favor—one day, we will see that silver lining that we’re pining for.
It’s the same hope that forms a huge part of our relationships as well. In fact, it even drives it to a large extent.
We all carry our own ideas about how relationships in our life need to be. Not only do we want our relationships with our parents, siblings, friends, and partners to be a certain way, we also want them to be a certain way. And yes, for all of our relationships to work, there needs to be a balance between our needs and expectations.
We all have our own needs and we need our relationships to fulfill some of them for us because that’s what relationships are for. We can’t live in isolation and are not supposed to. It’s natural and obvious for us to expect the people in our lives to be with us in certain ways and do some things for us so that we will feel fulfilled with them and vice versa.
Everyone needs to adjust, accommodate, and make room for each other’s needs so that they can continue to support and grow with each other.
Thus, without the idea of hope, it’s hard for relationships to thrive.
Hope allows us to have faith in the fact that with the requisite amount of time, space, and efforts, the issues in the relationship will be taken care of by the people involved.
It enables you to look forward to a bright, happy, and fulfilling future with the person on the other side. It lets you go on patiently so that one day when the silver lining comes out of those dark clouds, you can finally smile and be at ease that now things will be better.
While hope is great in every aspect of our lives, it can also steer us away from reality to a great extent. It can keep us going in a direction that only leads to a dead end, and at times, there is no end.
In my book The Intentional Being, I have written about the difference between being realistically optimistic i.e. hopeful and confident about the future and blindly optimistic:
“Realistic optimism comes from the fact that you acknowledge and accept the situation for what it is. Yet, you look for possibilities that fit into that scenario. You see things for what they are, not for what you want them to be. When we begin to force our imaginative reality into what actually exists, we create a mess for ourselves. We ignore our ‘inner knowing’ or gut feelings, we overlook red flags, we allow ourselves to be taken for granted, and so on.
While hope is the one thing that we all need to get us through to the other side, sometimes, it becomes the very thing that keeps us stuck. It keeps us captive in choices that aren’t serving us or in relationships that are unfulfilling. It takes away the power of our own efforts as we pour all our energies into simply wishing and hoping that one day things will improve.
It’s blind hope when we are choosing to overlook what’s actually in front of us and are indulging in our own delusions. Blind optimism sounds like this:
‘One day it will get better.’
‘It’s not like this.’
‘I hope one day he/she will understand.’
‘Maybe he/she will realize…’
‘Maybe he/she will change.'”
And this keeps us stuck because we’re not really seeing situations and people for who they are.
When it comes to relationships, it’s even more problematic because for the reality of any relationship to change, the people in it need to change. Change needs three components:
>> Awareness of what needs to change and how
>> Willingness to change
>> Efforts/action in the direction of change
Many a times, we are just in our own mental stories of “If I do more or less of this then the person will understand or change,” and that’s where we’re completely wrong because we’re blindly chasing a version of reality that’s only in our mind, causing us to completely negate what is actually happening in real time.
“Relationships are worth fighting for. But you can’t be the only one fighting for.” ~ Anonymous
People don’t change because we want them to; they change if they want to. So whether or not we need to continue being hopeful depends on if they are making any efforts to change. If not, then this is simply blind hope and there is no end to it.
“The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.” ~
Here are some signs that indicate that you might be stuck in a cycle of blind hope where you think that one day they will change. You make relentless efforts to get them to see and understand your perspective and needs, they continue to do what they want, and you continue to think that they will change.
In the end, you are the one who’s tired, exhausted, psychologically and emotionally hurt, and simply stuck.
If you identify with most of these signs, then maybe it’s time for you to change the way you think about your relationship.
1. You’re holding on to the idea of “what can be” instead of looking at “what is.” The other person has shown you repeatedly who they are and their unwillingness or inability to change or be the way you want them to. Yet, you keep telling yourself that one day, things might change. Instead of looking at reality, you are focusing on potential. Well, everyone has potential but not everyone realizes or reaches it.
2. You continue to lower your standards or tolerate unreasonable, hurtful behaviors in the hope that one day they will see your sacrifice and realise your importance or you simply convince yourself that this is all that you’re going to get because no one can have everything that they want.
3. You’re fixated on the idea of a “better future” and that “this too shall pass” and that one day you will be happy—not realizing that the relationship in the present is completely messed up or unfulfilling and your efforts cannot or aren’t enough to shift the dynamic.
4. When someone tries to give you a reality check, you rationalize, make excuses for the other person, or simply defend the dream that you’ve envisioned, no matter how disconnected from reality it may be.
5. You hang onto all those rare moments when they do something that’s meaningful, even though it’s the bare minimum. You keep waiting with baited breath for the love, affection, understanding that you “know” is there.
6. You feel directionless in your life and struggle to balance the various aspects of your life because all your mental, physical, and emotional energy is completely invested in hoping and wishing that one day this person would change and you will get your happily ever after.
7. Your experiences with this person always leaves you drained, exhausted, emotionally lonely, and sad. You keep thinking that there’s something more that you need to fix in you just so that you can get it better the next time. But that next time doesn’t really arrive, and the cycle of hurt and disappointment continues.
At times there is no happily ever after in some relationships, and that’s a harsh reality that we must accept at some point in our lives.
It takes each and every person involved in an equation to make it work and they have to actually do the work to create a positive, well-meaning, sustainable change.
Relationships are always a two-way street and if it’s only you trying to do all the work on your own then it’s no longer a relationship. It’s a lonely quest for something impossible.
Then, it’s about understanding that sometimes the best thing you can do is to let go of what you’ve been holding onto simply because holding on hurts more…much more.
“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.” ~ Anonymous
And if you can’t let go of the relationship for any reason, then at least let go of your own expectations that you know are hurting you.
“Don’t let them fill you up with false hope and empty promises. People pour their heart out through their actions; not their words.” ~ Lisa Archer