Friday, June 1

Defensive Hope, Revisited......... 6/1/12

"If we are ever in doubt about what to do, it is a good rule to ask ourselves
 what we shall wish on the morrow that we had done." - John Lubbock
        I wrote this July 8th of last year.  It's the fourth most popular all-time post.  I'm bumping it up for those who did not know me then or who haven't read it.

       The topic is a serious issue.  If we want to get emotionally healthy, discerning choices need to be made, when relating with difficult---unsafe---others.  Are you, or have you been, in Defensive Hope?  Let me know.  I'll get to this subject after listing my gratitudes.

                       I wish you a great weekend,
                              The Innkeeper

My Gratitudes:
1. My work is satisfying---I love what I do----no two days are the same, I enjoy calling my own hours, I'm contributing to the world; how could I not have an Attitude of Gratitude?
     I'm moved when I see others getting more out of life, because of my work. I enjoy the purpose my life holds. Seeing my domain expand, over the past year is fulfilling.
2. I grateful others appreciate my efforts. I'm getting plenty of that, lately. It's wonderful seeing clients value the work I do. Not that I need appreciation in order to have serenity.       1 (Footnote below)
3. I'm grateful for each person who drops by. It's nice having you here. It makes the work I do worthwhile.
4. I value each comment you make when you drop by. It builds community.

Defensive Hope
The following material is from page 97 in the book, Safe People, by the authors, Drs. Cloud and Townsend, 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.  Humans are incredible optimists when it comes to destructive relationships.  For some reason we think that a person who is hurtful, irresponsible or out of control, abusive, or dishonest is going to change if we just 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, that 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 are not going to change. We don't want to accept the reality about who they are. So, we hope.
"Usually this kind of hope did not start in our current relationship.  We usually have an old pattern of not facing grief and disappointments in many past relationships, dating back to childhood.  (Emphasis, mine.)
"Facing sadness is difficult, for it places the responsibility 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 have to adapt to a nonfulfillng marriage.  We have to get the courage to set limits and consequences and make many more tough choices that may change our relationships.
"Yes, hope is easier in the beginning, but 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 destruction to continue in life."
       Looking at reality, grieving our losses and letting go of our fantasies (for more about that read here)----that things will get better----with those that disturb us, is the first step towards experiencing healing. As we move from being victims to individuals making healthier choices, we begin seizing control of our lives. 2 (See footnote.)         
       When this happens, we'll have a greater Attitude of Gratitude to complement the increasing sanity and serenity.
So, 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, and discarding Defensive Hope?
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 our own Balcony People. For more information about them, click here. Have a great and grateful day!
Image: Cumbria: Dervent and Skiddaw  by Tim Blessed © all rights reserved, used by permission


Carl H said...

Timely and thought provoking message for me today! Thank you Pablo! I'm grieving the loss of filial piety in a son. I've thus needed to establish some new, healthy boundaries to protect emotional bullying. I've had to face the reality of this unexpected change in our father/adult son relationship, until he can recover.

Today, I am Grateful...

1. That God has today chosen subtle, touching and even comic ways to help me see and begin to remove longstanding defects in my character.
2. That I could share my God-encounter through uplifting humor and gentle self-effacement, with a large circle of friends this evening; to their delight.
3. That I could return to a tranquil/serene home tonight, and treat myself to some Cranberry, Pumpkin, Spice Haagen-Dazs, while sharing these thoughts!

Vanessa Higgins said...

Last year I decided to leave a marriage that had been taking a lot of my energy but not giving any back. I worked on hope for so long and tricked myself into thinking it was enough. But now I miss my best friend and I fret that maybe I caused the fall of the marriage because I didn't know how to ask for more love and perhaps I didn;t feel I deserved more love than what was given.

Now my defensive hope is switched to my work. I want so badly to feel safe and productive at work, but all I see are signs that I am not good enough for my career. I live in fear most days. I am trying to figure out how to switch hope towards a helpful path.

Pablo said...


It certainly helps using boundaries with our children, even when they are adults. They are hard to apply, sure, when directed towards our loved ones.

The good news is that when we do, we are developing our discernment muscles and we are transcending our nature that wants to please everyone, to their and our detriment.

Wow, Carl, I appreciate your honesty! Be sure to have your Balcony People around as you work on the areas where you want to grow, my phrase for character defects.

What I'm hearing is that you are letting your light shine. Kudos to you, that you let others know what's going on with you, when you met with friends last night.

You are talented: eating and writing simultaneously. I may want to write my posts, using the same source of nourishment. :)

Thanks for dropping by and sharing what's going on with you. I especially like you dropping off your three gratitudes!

An innkeeper who is in your corner, rooting you on,


aileen said...

Defensive hope speaks directly to recognizing that change means a different action than the one that is not working, like defensive hope itself, and that the change is for me, as I have no power to change another.

My 3 gratitudes:

1. Had a day of paid work and been asked to come in a few days this upcoming week.

2. The insight I got about frustration being a form of negative self criticism at its heart.

3. Learning to counter the overly critical inner voice w/compassion for myself and remembering that as long as I'm breathing I can seek conscious improvement and growth from old behaviors that no longer serve me. Tought work, well worth it.

Bye for now!

Pablo said...


So good to see you. Thank you for letting me get to know you better. You may want to take a look at a post I wrote last year. It's title is "Character Discernment."

I like this post. It would help many a relationship, including those in my circle of friends.

Here's the link:

You'll have to cut and paste.

Please be gentle with yourself. It doesn't help when we beat ourselves up. Think of the love you would give towards a little kitten. Now, give that same love towards yourself.

One thing that allows me to have serenity, despite my circumstances is remembering the following quote:

"I block my well-being each time I base my self-worth on what I do or what other people think of me."

Courage to Change, p.118.

We have value simply because we breathe the breath of humanity, Vanessa.

Try exercising your phantom Higher Power. Act as if you had one. I'm going finish my reply to your comments in my next post.

See you there!

Pablo said...

Hi there, Aileen,

You got it, regarding defensive hope!

Frustration frequently is about being hard on ourselves. Doing what you suggest in gratitude number three is what spiritual regeneration is all about: we transcend self-imposed limitations and replace unhealthy behaviors with newer and better ways of living. It's key remembering that we don't do this alone.

We need a Power Greater than ourselves assisting us---we need a different consciousness than the one that created them, and we don't have the strength in ourselves to make this transition.

Doña said...

I had to wrangle with this post and keep re-reading it. I’m protesting the title Defensive Hope. Mine is more like Naïve Hope, Immature/Simple-Minded/Uneducated/Undiscerning/Always-taken-in-as-a-sucker Hope. The points I’m wrestling with are accepting/understanding the reality of the relationships I’m in AND acknowledging the immaturity of the hope that I’ve had. Jesus spoke so many times about his and the Father’s pain about a Hard Heart. I fear developing a hard heart. No problem, to get a tough, “strong” heart. No problem, at all. In wrestling with this, it feels now that I have to take a stance between Proverbs 4:23 (wise, competent, mature hope) while keeping a tender heart towards God. I need to do all that I can and stay in my responsibilities/boundaries and not overstep and cross God’s Boundaries. That’s when I mess up.

Quotes from the Posts

"I'm mindful that our thoughts affect the words we use, our words influence our actions, our actions shape our character and our character determines our destiny."

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

"Progress not perfection, is better than no progress at all, especially when we're trying to rid ourselves from unwelcome dragons that dwell within the closets of our soul."

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

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, but it does empty today of its strength"
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.