“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
-Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet: "On Joy and Sorrow."
In a previous article, I spoke about “hope” as the driving force that can propel you to make fundamental changes in your life. However, it is crucial that feelings of hope are not bound to glorifying your remembrance of a “perfect” past or conjuring impossible fantasies of an improbable future.
Are you who you imagined you would be?
Hope is such a powerful force within our existence. We are always in the process of becoming. Going about life, being who we are, picking things up, either thoughtfully or by happenstance, that inevitably have an effect on us, our being. But right now, in the present, you most likely came across this writing because there is something inside of you that you are not happy with about yourself. Perhaps you are displeased with who you've become. You desire that relationships could work out better or that others could know parts of yourself and experiences within you. You had many dreams for your life and maybe they haven’t actualized. Are you hoping for something different? Do you desire to activate a different side of yourself? Do you wish more for your life?
You are not alone in this pursuit. I decided to study theology, philosophy, psychoanalytic and existential theory because I felt like my counseling studies were not getting at the core of what it meant to be a person. It didn't make sense or touch on my experience of what it was like to live. The existentialist would call this a thirst for meaning.
Leaning into Hope
Existential psychologist, Rollo May, spoke vividly about the impulse within humanity to create and strive for meaning and fulfillment, but that it was an impulse that leads us to the creative process, which inevitably brings us to have to encounter and work with our anxiety. The fear of living.
“The human being cannot live in a condition of emptiness for very long: if he is not growing toward something, he does not merely stagnate; the pent-up potentialities turn into morbidity and despair, and eventually into destructive activities.” Rollo May
As trauma therapist, author and professor, Dan Allender said, "How do we talk about hope without talking about imagination?" We will all be carrying some anxiety as we lean into that which we are hoping for, just enough so that we are still able to imagine. Within these moments of imagination is the seed of how to encourage the process of change that will move us to where we want to be. Where we want to be, for many of us, is somewhere very different than where we are now. Hope is the bringing into existence something that we are imagining.
This is How You Will You Change Your World
In the words of William Blake, “What is now proved was once only imagin’d”
Your imagination is a great gift inside of you with unlimited power. You need to fire up your imagination to create possible life scenarios. These often become successful life goals. If you discourage your imagination and its wonderful flights of fancy and only stick to the facts and figures –you might be dulling your mind to the healing properties of wonder. When you marry imagination with active creativity you quite literally change the world. It is not only reserved for artists but is the birthright of all human beings.
If we feel a life situation is helpless perhaps engaging our imaginations to find new solutions, is a good starting point. Dream bigger for yourself. Try to do things differently –shake your routine up to eradicate harmful habits. Ensure you have sufficient quiet space to listen to your inner thoughts and wild imaginings for your life. Actively seek inspiration to tempt your imagination to come out into the open. Interrogate yourself with loads of questions and your imagination might surprise you.
“And now hope is for me anticipated joy, as anxiety is anticipated, terror.” -Moltmann, conversation with Miroslav Volf.
Below the Surface
Your imagination is your best friend when you need to find a safe space in the midst of chaotic, challenging times and is a powerful technique for healing. As you start to imagine positive outcomes for your life, it might bring up feelings of looking for a connection to leading a life of substance and authenticity.
I believe we find ourselves in a time where we are coming out of the age of glamorous aesthetics and possessions, and moving into a generation that seeks a deep meaningfulness and intentionality as we go about our present lives. People are thinking much more about their sense of lifestyle, their career, futures and how to cultivate a sense of well-being. Move gently towards your new horizon by delving into the pain of today. Hope and a healthy imagination will guide you through.
Dan Allender says, “Perhaps you have put off the pain of today in preparation that, that which you seek will arrive tomorrow. I tell you now, with confidence and shared hope, it will not come if you do not face it and bring kindness to it.”