A Question of Hope

A Question of Hope

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Are you cyclically confused? In a ceremonial quandary? Completely clueless? Wonder no more.

Ask Your Mama, The What, When, Where, Why, How, and Who of Ceremony & Spirituality

by Mama Donna Henes, Urban Shaman

Dear Mama Donna,

Hope is no better than worrying. They are both passive and are based on wishes. Instead people should deal with reality. This means letting each person be responsible for his/her actions and having clear communication. Then problems can be addressed and solved in an active way and control is put in the hands where it belongs. Worry and hope are by people that don’t want to take action but want control. Thoughts don’t have power over anyone but the thinker.

A Realist in Florida

Dear Realist,

You are absolutely correct. One absolutely must do things in order to change things.

But Hope is better than worry, since it sends your focus toward the positive.

During a recent ritual of deep cleansing and release, I passed a set of Guatemalan worry dolls around the circle to help us relinquish the nagging apprehensions and insidious anxieties that sap our strength and resolve. All those sneaky, nasty, niggly worries that worm their way into our brains and take up our good time.

Worry dolls are wonderful. There is nothing you can’t tell them. Absolutely nothing shocks them, they’ve heard it all before. And whatever it is that troubles you, they take care of it. Get rid of it. Swallow it. Spirit it away. It is their job, and they are professionals. What a tremendous relief it is to hand over your distress to someone else to deal with.

As each participant took the tiny figures into the palm of her hand,  s/he would allow the flood gates of her heart to open, and let loose a stream of sadness, stress, panic, guilt, worst-case scenarios, and   catastrophic fears.

When the dolls reached Anita, a woman in her late sixties, she calmly declared, “I don’t worry. I hope.”

Brilliant! I felt five decades of self-conscious, conscientious pollyannaism vindicated by the transparent truth of that one simple statement. Talk about positive reinforcement.

There are those who say that hope is futile, a waste of time, of precious energy. They contend that hope is completely unrealistic. Simply wishful thinking, they insist. And I say, “Yes. It is, and thank goodness!”

No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an unchartered land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.
—Helen Keller

A negative head set is not healthy. Seeing the world as a goblet half empty could shave years off of your life. Medical studies have proven the physical and psychological benefits of being positive in your attitude. It produces more energy, strengthens the immune system and results in a greater ability to heal and an increased longevity.

According to a new study, an optimistic outlook in one’s later years could offer protection against a stroke. The study, published in the Journal of the American Psychosomatic Society, shows that “high levels of positive affect” seem to shield older people from stroke. Elderly folks who often feel blue tend to have more strokes than those who are not depressed, according to the study.

Mary Gillespie, a sister circler, commented during one of my ceremonies that “Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.” Physics has long since proved that energy flows in the direction that we send it. Therefore, THINKING positively is just as important as DOING positive things. If you are worrying, fearful and pessimistic it freezes your ability to move forward and to do what needs to be done. It produces a catatonia of will. If you believe a situation to be hopeless, you don’t even try.

Studies show that optimistic people consistently out-perform those who consider themselves to be more realistic, because they place fewer restrictions on themselves. If you don’t know that something is impossible, you are more likely able to be able to do it. “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.”

While we often have little or no control over the situations that affect us, we do have control over our own perceptions of them. We do have the very real and extremely potent power of perspective. And we definitely possess the crucial and vitally influential choice of how we will deal with whatever comes our way. How we will handle ourselves.

So, yes, here is to doing the work that needs to be done on a personal, communal and global level. But since worry takes as much energy as hope, let us do that good work with an optimistic heart.

Yours for positive public spirit,

Mama Donna

*Are you cyclically confused? In a ceremonial quandary? Completely clueless? Wonder no more. Send your questions about seasons, cycles, and celebrations to Mama Donna at: CityShaman@aol.com.

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