The following material is from page 97, Safe People, by the authors, Drs. Cloud and Town-send, published by Zondervan.
Defensive hope is hope that [we think] protects us against grief and sadness.
Sometimes simply hoping a person will change keeps us from the pain that we need to face. Hu-mans are incredible optimists. Especially when it comes to destructive relationships. For some rea-son we think that a person who is hurtful, irrespon-sible or out of control, abusive, or dishonest is going to change. All we have to do is love them correctly or more or enough. We think that if we just let them know about their mistakes or cry the blues, or get angry, they will change.
In short, we have hope. But it is a hope that disappoints. In this scenario we use hope to defend ourselves against facing the truth about someone we love. We don't want to go through the sadness of realizing that they probably aren't going to change. We don't want to accept the reality about who they are. So, we hope, not wanting to face reality.
Usually this kind of hope did not start in our cur-rent relationship. We usually have an old pattern of not facing grief and disappointments in many past relation-ships, dating back to childhood. (Emphasis, mine.)
Facing sadness is difficult. It places the respon-sibility of change on us, instead of hoping that unsafe person is going to change. We have to learn to not expect that he will change. We have to make other friends. We need to adapt to a nonfulfillng marriage.
We want the courage to set limits and conse-quences. We will want to make many more tough choices that may change our relationships.
Yes, hope is easier in the beginning. In the end it is more difficult. Not facing reality is to stay stuck and to get more of the same in the future. Defensive hope is one of the biggest reasons that we allow des-truction to continue in life.
Grieving our losses is critical. It is a big part of acceptance: mourning. We need to do this. It is vital for our sanity to let go of fantasies.
This is essential, for us to move beyond this painful area. When we do this, we are also exercising self-compassion.
We need to move away from dreams that things will get better. This is especially true about our fantasies about unhealthy people who disturb us. They prevent us from seeing life as it really is, which is the sanity referred to in Step Two in Recovery."Came to believe in a power greater than ourselves that could restore us to sanity." Step Two
This is the first step towards healing. As we move from victims to individuals making healthier choices, we are seizing control of our lives. 2 (See footnote.)
By the way, what is said in the quoted passage is also true regarding circum-stances. We may fantasize about them. We may not want to face the truth. Again, facing disappoint-ment is important if we want to move forward.
After we grieve, we let go. We decide what to do next. We consider our healthiest, most constructive options.
When we make peace with our reality, we'll have a greater Atti-tude of Gratitude to complement the increasing sanity and serenity we enjoy.
1. My work is satisfying.
I love what I do. No two days are the same. I contribute to the positive well-being of the world. How could I not have an Attitude of Gratitude?
I'm moved when others get more out of life, because of my work. I celebrate the purpose my life holds.
2. I grateful others appreciate my efforts.
I get plenty of that. It's wonderful that clients value the work I do. Not that I need appreciation in order to have serenity. 1 (Footnote below)
3. I value each comment visitors write. It builds the community we enjoy here.
4. I'm thankful for each person who drops by. It's nice having you here. It makes the work I do as the innkeeper worthwhile.
How About You?
1. What losses have you been grieving, regarding a relationship?
2. What are some tough choices that you are making?
3. In what ways have you been facing reality, lately?
1. "If I can learn to evaluate my own actions and behavior and value my own judgment, then the approval of others will be enjoyable, but no longer no longer essential to my serenity. Just for today, I will appreciate myself.
"I will not look to others s for approval; I will provide it for myself. I'll allow myself to recognize that I am doing the best I can. Today my best is good enough."
Courage to Change, p. 9
2. "Focusing on ourselves doesn't man that we let other people walk all over us and pretend not to notice, or that whatever others do is acceptable. Nor does it imply that we should stop caring about our loved ones. Focusing on ourselves simply means that when we acknowledge the situation as it is, we look at our options instead of looking at the options available to other people.
"We consider what is within our power to change instead of expecting others to do the changing. As a result, problems have a better chance of getting solved, and we lead more manageable lives." Courage to Change, p. 359Our life becomes somewhat more manageable ("have a better chance") because we do have some control over how we choose to live our lives. I say "some" because our character defects get in our way, even here, as we attempt to transcend our errant ideals, past history and pain. This points to the value of having Balcony People.
For more information about them, you can read here. Have a great and grateful day!
Image: Cumbria: Dervent and Skiddaw by Tim Blessed © all rights reserved, used by permission