A truism you’ll hear repeated in medicine, and other venues, is that the best predictor of future behavior is the past. This is a hopeful message if the choices people make have been empowering, but a dangerous belief if one is a prison guard, a truancy officer, a cardiac care nurse. Have your nose rubbed in a little too much “reality”, and it’s easy to forget that people can change.
Hope for change lies in the exceptions, the times and places where people — including self — act unexpectedly from a bigger and better paradigm. Notice the exceptions. If you’re inclined, keep a list of them. They will help your own hope in times when its flame barely flickers.
For my own part, I left medicine over eight years ago, but I still recall patients who nurtured my hope. There were many more, of course, but I’ll describe three:
- The gentleman who smoked two packs a day for forty years, had lung damage and bypass surgeries, who simply quit smoking one day because he decided he’d had enough.
- The woman who left an abusive marriage.
- The young lady who learned to read food labels in my office in one session, and who lost and kept off thirty pounds because of that half-hour.
This is a particularly strong lesson for me today because of an event taking place as I type. If past predicts future, a certain individual shouldn’t be travelling right now. They certainly couldn’t be going alone to a foreign country, to a conference that will challenge, confront and enlarge. Yet somehow that person is winging their way to a destination thousands of miles away.
She’s already won, yet she hasn’t arrived. Know what? I’ve won by getting to witness the break in pattern. I will take that energy and that example into my day now, so as I sit down to a task I’ve avoided for a few weeks, I’ll know that I too can act from a better place.
Notice the exceptions. Celebrate exceptions. Expect exceptions, especially of yourself and people who seem the least capable of acting differently.
If you like today’s post, you might do two things:
- Share an example of a time when you or someone else made a huge lifestyle change and stuck to it, whether it’s related to writing or not.
- Check out The Hope Lady Blog. Most everything I’ve learned about hope at a cognitive level comes from Wendy Edey the Hope Foundation of Alberta.