Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hope Vs. Faith

Recently someone said to me, "At least I have hope!" referring to themselves and their circumstances. This was said in an almost weak, victim-like attitude, lacking strength and self-empowerment. Let's examine that statement in relation to the often unvoiced "I have faith!" in non-religious terms.

Jim Carrey once said, "Hope walks through the fire while faith leaps over it!" When I heard this, it made something "click" within me, because although having hope is often a great starting-point for coping and developing an optimistic attitude in the face of challenges, it's been my experience that having faith almost certainly helps us to avoid finding ourselves face-to-face with the "fire" or challenges; do our unconscious thoughts and attitudes affect decisions and actions we take, leading us to positive or negative occurrences, or does life just "happen"? If the "inevitable" does occur, faith appears to act as a "shield" of sorts, the proverbial "water running off a duck's back". I'm not suggesting that there are no challenges in this life, for without them, how would we learn, grow and evolve? I'm also not referring to having an unrealistic, "Polly-Anna" attitude; an ancient saying goes like this: "Have faith, but tie your camel!" which I interpret as meaning have faith, but "cover your butt"/have all angles covered/safeguarded/insured, in a logical, but not fearful way. I am saying this: it is logical to lock your car up when running a quick errand to the convenience store; this is a logical, smart precaution, regardless of the "type" of neighborhood the store is in. Lock the doors and windows of your home, even in the summer, and regardless of the type of neighborhood you live in, again as a logical, not fearful precaution. Burglaries can (and do) occur everywhere, regardless of the demographics and condition of the neighborhood. Some take a "hope-based" attitude that they "trust" nothing bad will happen, and if someone wants to break in, they will regardless, so why have them break a window? Others take a compassionate approach, justifying their loss as "The crooks probably need those things more than I do!" These attitudes may be judged as being irresponsible, and even unrealistic. 

Regardless, having "true" faith means that the very thought of robbery, loss, destruction and even having a pessimistic future rarely, if ever, even enters into your mind. Having "hope" means that you hope nothing bad will happen, despite taking or not taking precautions. Which of these two "feels" stronger: "I hope (I think/believe) nothing bad will happen", or "I KNOW (have faith) that nothing bad will happen!"? Having faith does not mean that you should "tempt" faith, with irresponsible, potentially harmful acts, for this is not intelligent and logical, but rather fool-hardy and lacking self-love. True faith just "knows", while hope "believes".

When I was younger, this was my perspective: Total faith, that "Nothing bad will ever happen to me", and indeed, when challenges did occur, I was barely aware of them and continued on seamlessly with my life. This attitude was of course based on my happy, supportive, and "overly-protected" early childhood; I was shielded from most so-called unpleasant "worldly" occurrences as much as my parents could shield me from. I also never felt that we were poor, even though I grew up in a lower-income middle-class Montreal neighborhood, because my life felt enriched as a result of my scholarly and artistic accomplishes and my friends who are still in my life fifty years later! As I grew older and sought out gainful employment, the thought of defeat in a highly-competitive environment never entered my mind, and so I attribute my early career successes and accomplishments and manifestations to this attitude of faith. As I grew even older and found myself face-to-face with the kind of challenges that many others face such as one's parents' mortality, separation and divorce, poverty, betrayal, even bullying and violence, I had to develop more coping and healing skills, which again "manifested" in the form of self-help books, people "appearing" in my life to educate me about all of this, and even opportunities to learn skills, techniques, and degrees to help myself and my own patients and clients, all of this also occurring virtually seamlessly. I still marvel at these "miracles" which always seemed to accompany the challenges! After years of personal and clinical observation and meditation, (resulting in my writing and publishing many self-help books) I have arrived at faith having been the key to it all; that somehow I maintained a strong unconscious (and often conscious) faith, a "knowing" that regardless of the "good" and "bad" around me, it all didn't (and doesn't) really matter, that it is all like a "play", and nothing that occurs around me can affect my true, inner essence, that "part of me that can never be hurt".

Although I had an early "start" at this, I have observed that it can be nurtured and developed in others through self-hypnosis, meditation, and mental re-conditioning, using various spiritual and psychological technologies, as outlined in my books. Yes, there is always hope, but I have faith that all is, and will, continue to be outstandingly amazing, and I still marvel at the whole process. You can too. Remember the "perfect" in the "imperfect" and faith will grow.

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