Hope and Dread are two sides of the same coin. When we allow ourselves to hope, to dream, we are always vulnerable to loss. When we dare to love, we risk our biggest dreads--to lose love, to feel rejection. When we strive to achieve, we risk the dread of failure. Every hope is laced with the potential of dread.
When the Dread Feels Too Much
If you've been hurt in the past, or if as a child, you witnessed the people you love experience hurt, you might be very aware of life's potential for suffering. The Dreads that come along with the Hope of love, connection, security, success, pride, joy might evoke anxiety, sadness, even anger. When faced with Hope--whether you are aware of it or not--you may feel scared, or feel sad or angry about the loss of Hope in the past. Without even realizing it, you might run away from the potential of Hope--see my post on Self-Sabotage. The Dreads of Hope might become so painful, you might even shut down any possibility of Hope--resign to a life of Dread. Because at least then you are in control and can't be disappointed again. There's no startle involved. You have already accepted your fate.
The Courage to Hope
But life is a painful place without Hope. And you don't have to give up Hope in the name of emotional safety. Humans need relationships to grow and thrive, yet humans are mortal. Our very nature is designed to evoke Hope and Dread. There is the existential question of what you will do with that, with your time here on Earth. But it's also possible that just the very understanding of the Hope and Dread coin can help you to muster through the uncomfortable sensations that Hope (and Dread) may bring. You have had your Hope lost or stolen in the past, and now the possibility of Hope evokes a powerful sense of Dread--anxiety, fear, sadness, anger. You know what's happening to you and just that alone helps it to feel more manageable.
It also becomes easier to see that what happened in the past doesn't have to be what happens in the future. There's nothing specific to you that brings loss, rejection or failure. These are two sides of the same coin, and we are all born into this economy. See my post "The Myth of Happiness".
Hope and Dread in Therapy
Just starting therapy can evoke Hopes, like "Maybe I'll feel better, Maybe my future can be different than the past, Maybe I can have a safe connection with my therapist" as well as Dreads, "Maybe I won't feel better. Maybe the therapist will let me down like I've been disappointed before, or Maybe I'll find out something really is wrong with me". Sometimes the "working through" of these kinds of Hopes and Dreads (talking about them, feeling heard, understanding them as two sides of the coin) can be the most important part of healing.
At Creating Space Counseling and Wellness, I understand the Dreads that come along with finding a new therapist. But I also know Hope. And that just might be my most important qualification as your therapist. Call today to schedule an appointment. 856-281-1664
*Today's post is inspired by the book "Hope and Dread in Psychoanalysis", by Stephen Mitchell, that lays the groundwork for Relational Psychotherapy.