Friday, July 8

Defensive Hope, Not a Good Deal, It Ensures Disappointment 7/8/11

       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.

        Looking at reality helps us to thrive and get emotionally healthy.

       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.
"Came to believe in a power greater than ourselves that could restore us to sanity."                            Step Two
       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.

        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.

My Gratitudes:
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. 359
      Our 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


Kelly said...

Haha! I just wrote you an email, before I stopped by to see the new header. I'm glad the inn did not self-destruct due to me!

Defensive hope sounds a little bit like denial, but put in a very nice way. I think in my experience I would call it the 'Last Chance Hope' because I would see how the situation was slightly different enough to make this time the real last chance, the one that would make a difference. A million chances later...

It makes sense. Protecting myself from the truth was a serious goal because the truth was that I wasn't being loved. That's a painful truth to face.

Great share, Paul, thank you.

I'm grateful for the fact that I know what I was using the defensive hope to hide from.

I'm grateful for pricey cream soda, imported from Hawaii.

I'm grateful that the header I created is hanging up in the Inn.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I'm afraid of what I will feel if I dont hope. Hoping keeps us stuck in the fantasy but also gives us time to cope with the unpleasant experience or dissapoint. God will never give us more than we can handle but that doesn't necessarily mean we can't handle pain. learning that no disapointment is greater than God's love, strength and power will help us rely on Him when feeling the uncomfortable aspect of letting go of the fantasy and embracing reality. Look at it this way, if you stuck your hand in a fire and didn't feel the pain you may do it again. so possibly feeling the pain is better than repeating the same behavior over and over.

Unknown said...

I'm grateful God is there to help us with facing sadness and disappointment. I'm also grateful for friends who are willing to walk along side.

Paul NorthernCal said...


I appreciate your honesty. Wow. The good thing about acceptance is that it does not have to be done with resignation, where we just give up hope. Instead, we can grieve our circumstances, if need be, and then ask ourselves what steps can we take, in order to have our needs met. We are not hopeless, helpless victims, we have choices.

The good thing is that we can gradually build our supportive network. If we have to be more than we are, in order to have a relationship with someone, or if we are asked to be less than we are, then it’s usually best to bless that person and send them on their way---they are not God’s gift for us.

Having healthy relationships requires us to ask ourselves, what do we want in our relationships? Qualities like respect, healthy communication, dignity, emotional safety, humor and tranquility are good things to desire in our relationships. We learn to request these qualities in our relationships with others. Five key words: we get what we tolerate. We have to place our values before our attachment with others. I know it’s not easy. I’ve had to end relationships because I didn’t receive the dignity I needed when we related.

When someone mistreats us, they are putting us in a one-down relationship.

Thank you, for thanking me for what I wrote. I don’t often get appreciation for what I do here. I appreciate your sensitivity towards me. Your gratitude motivates me to continue the work I do here.

Kelly, I’m impressed with your awareness regarding you and Defensive Hope! That reveals you are getting healthier. Also, thanks for helping to improve this inn! (The Header)

Anne (Anonymous),

I enjoy your insight. Good stuff. Thanks for dropping by and for reading! I’m not sure if I’m in total agreement with you, though. We certainly don’t want to use hope as a drug that prevents us from seeing reality.

“Learning that no disappointment is greater than God's love, strength and power helps us rely on Him when we feel the uncomfortable aspect of letting go of the fantasy and embracing reality.” I totally agree with this statement. This is a great sentence!

As we get healthier we feel the pain. Paradoxically, feeling it reveals we are getting healthier.

Cynthia (Unknown),

God is our comfort in times of trial and sadness. It is a happy day when we realize that often he uses others as a means of touching us with His presence. Healthy relationships and especially our Balcony People are incarnational ambassadors of God’s love. Those are some of the times when God walks with us, like in the hymn, “In the Garden,” I’m sure you know this song.

Kelly said...

Paul- You are really bright! Thanks for your feedback to my response. I'm going to bookmark this page for future reference.

Paul NorthernCal said...


(Scuffing the dirt with the toe of my shoe) Aw, shucks!

Ask away, if you have any questions. I'll give you my two-cents. I'm happy to support you.
You are doing very well, I'm proud of all the positive steps you are taking.

It’s important for us to remember, we aren't alone. Life is a "we" program. We can't succeed on our own. Our best thinking and actions brought us to the place where we are. Our neediness is God's way of extruding us into relationships with mature, emotionally healthy others. As Cloud and Townsend say in their book, Safe People, page 67:

“Make friends with your needs. Welcome them. They are a gift from God, designed to draw you into
relationship with him and with his safe People. Your needs are the cure of self-sufficiency [where we
normally try to go it alone].”

Kelly said...


I'm trying to find a better balance, though, between 'just me' and 'we' with the wrong people, you know? I guess I'm a little scared of 'we' right least, in the real world.

It is interesting to look at needs as a gift from God. I can see how that can (at times) be, though.

Paul NorthernCal said...


I'm at a cafe. I wrote an in depth reply and lost it, the place where I am using Wi-fi timed me out. :<

The problem isn't with "we." The "we" we choose to hang out with, is the issue. Character discernment is the critical factor, not their accomplishments or attainments, despite what Madison Ave. wants us to believe.

Just like it's usually best to not marry the first person we date, the same is true in choosing our friends. It takes time to find those that can resonate with who we are and with whom we can relate and appreciate their unique personality, abilities and history.

Are the prospective friends patient? Do they get angry easily? What is their relationship with God? Do they just use us as an audience, so that they can talk about themselves? Do they interrupt us, when we try to say something? Do they get defensive, when we mention areas that concern us, about our relationship with them? Can they say they are sorry, when they offend us? Are they growing as a person? Do they have a sense of humor? Are they considerate towards you, others and children?

A good relationship takes time. It's an investment. We grow them. But they are well worth the effort. I could not thrive, without them.

"Friendship is a plant of slow growth that must endure many seasons of adversity before it is worthy of that appellation." George Washington

Here's to you connecting with healthy others,

Anonymous said...

The last chance hope as Kelly refers to as defensive hope reminds me of my situation with my x boyfriend. As I recover my relationship with him is entirely different and I want to believe in the fantasy but maybe just maybe reality is far better. When I change others around me may not have changed themselves but they look different to me. I feel really uncomfortable letting go of the fantasy of being loved because then what. Then I may really be loved. I am learning to let go and let God and trust that letting go will be a much more serene path to travel. I am going against all the ingrained tracks in my personality to follow God's will and trusting I will arive at a much happier place and enjoy the journey.
As I keep putting principles before my personality change keeps happening. Even so I am not getting my own way or have any control over the situation. This is my false self talking and I keep telling myself not to listen to her, there is a better plan.I keep trusting and do my part to let go of any defensive hope or expectation.
As I struggle with this one relationship I keep moving forward despite my attempts to self destruct. I cannot go back to being a puppet or doormat because my balcony people keep reminding me of who I truly am and that I am deserving of a happy, committed and loving relationship.
My sponsor would scream if he heard this but none the less I believe in my heart that God can work miracles. If my x boyfriend were to find God and recovery was his passion he could change too. That is my prayer and hope for him as he is under safe keeping in the God Box. I am leaving it to God, detaching with love and viewing the outcome as God's will being done. Since I am not God I do not know what the future will bring but I pray I will be loved, happy and in a place called heaven on earth.
I am not going back to a fantasy becaue it no longer exists but I am moving forward with acceptance, love and forgiveness.
I am being truthful in that this is a struggle to let go and I am aware this is apparent in my writing but thee truth is better and brings healing when we uncover the false reality and the denial which keeps us stuck. I hope this will help readers who are going through similar struggles to know they are not alone. Things keep getting better a little at a time if I keep working at recovery and trust God in the process.

Pablo said...

When it comes to reality, especially a problem, it doesn't help to stress about them.
If we can do something about it, why surrender to despair? Incremental growth will eventually get us to where we want to be.

If we can't do something about it, why bother? I find it best to focus on what I CAN do.

It's good remembering we are the average of the five people we hang out with. I choose to be with those who have hope and want to move forward in their lives.

The Innkeeper

Quotes from the Posts

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From "My Character Determines My Destiny." To read it, please click here.

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From, "Still Learning" which, within four days, became the most popular post
written. To read it, please click here.

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From the post: "Life Is Not a Correspondence Program." Click here to read it.

"Even though we cannot control our circumstances, we can control how we choose to respond to them."

From, "Handling Stress and Dealing With an Emotional Bully."Click here to read this post.

"Nope, being busy isn't exciting. Boring is good. Because boring is not boring; boring is being healthy, living a balanced life that has serenity"

From: "Do You Know What It Means If You Are Too Busy?" For more, please click here.