2 Reasons You Need to Get Hopeless
"Just as hope can conquer all, false hope can ruin everything…"
Dr. Henry Cloud, author of Necessary Endings examines the dangers of false hope. He suggests that there are times in life when everyone needs to get hopeless. In stepfamily life, you need to discover "healthy hopelessness" to keep you moving forward.
When Kim and I started getting serious in our relationship, my hopes began building. I had hopes for our marriage, hopes to be a great step-dad, hopes for a fun home and for more kids someday. Some of my hopes were realistic and some were simply false hope.
You see, I grew up in a dysfunctional stepfamily that left me disillusioned. I had never been married before, I had no kids of my own and I had anger issues rooted in my past. I had all these great hopes, but no idea how they might turn into reality…I wasn't equipped for this.
As we moved closer to our wedding day, some of my hopes began to crumble and were replaced with fears.
What I was really doing was wishing…not hoping. I was wishing that Kim and I were already equipped to handle the complex dynamics of stepfamily life. That seemed fine early on, but once we started talking about wedding plans, the fears started creeping in.
Dr. Cloud says, "Hope is based not only on desire, but also on real, objective reasons to believe that more time will help." I had a desire to build a healthy blended family, but I had nothing solid to stand on. Deep down I knew we weren't equipped to handle complex stepfamily issues. No amount of hoping, wishing, love or time would change that. I had no objective reasons to believe we had what it would take to lead a successful stepfamily.
That's when my healthy hopelessness set in. Lucky for us, the weekend before our wedding we had the opportunity to attend a 2-Day seminar for step-couples. It was my fear and hopelessness that drove us to set our wedding planning aside for that entire weekend and instead focus on how we were going to be successful for the long haul. The principles we learned and the practical tools we picked up gave me the objective reasons I needed to turn my false hope into healthy hope.
It was the point that I reached healthy hopelessness when I made it a priority to get equipped for our journey.
Here's two reasons you need to find healthy hopelessness too:
False hope produces unrealistic expectations. Most every couple we coach has unrealistic expectations. Here's a few we've heard over the years:
- We're going to love living under the same roof as a family! After all, everyone has been getting along great while we've been dating!
- Kids are so adaptable, they'll get used to all the changes quickly.
- We both want the same things for our kids. Parenting & discipline should come pretty easy for us.
Kim and I were no different. We headed toward stepfamily life with false hope and unrealistic expectations. I remember thinking "I know what NOT to do" because of my experience as a child. It turns out there is a big difference between knowing what NOT TO DO versus what TO DO.
Every step-couple needs to reach a place of healthy hopelessness in order to reset their expectations. Unrealistic expectations need to be replaced with truth. That's when you'll be ready for the next reason you need healthy hopelessness.
I've heard that insanity is defined as, "doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result". False hope feeds this kind of insanity.
False hope keeps us locked into desire without action. It keeps us believing that with enough time and love everything will work out fine. The problem is that when the stresses, frustrations and annoyances of everyday stepfamily life repeat over and over again, time doesn't grow our love…it grows our resentments.
Trading false hope for healthy hopelessness can drive us to act. We might start talking to friends for advice. Maybe find a book about stepfamilies to help. We could google "blended family help". Whatever step we take it is typically because we've reached a point of healthy hopelessness and are ready to step off the insanity carousel.
It's time to get hopeless. Healthy hopelessness will help you drop your unrealistic expectations and take a next step. Don't wait around simply wishing for false hopes to come true. Get hopeless and move forward…today!
QUESTION: What false hopes are you holding onto and how can you get hopeless? Leave a comment below…