Lately I've been stressed out and anxious about the "variety show" going on around me. Perhaps calling the plethora of activities a "circus" would be more fitting. Everything is happening all at once and is swirling all around me causing proverbial dust to spin, spray, and splatter at a speed that's out of control. The difference between all this activity and the circus is that there is no clown, the acts aren't entertaining, and nobody is laughing. Not to mention, I don't remember signing up for the show, but I do recall agreeing to commitments such as: homeschooling during the summer, having my two grandkids for two days, taking my daughter-in-law out shopping for her birthday, taking on the never ending flow of paperwork in the house, trying to build my Avon business, and last, but not least, planning a party for my daughter who is coming in town for a honeymoon never taken, after her courthouse wedding. On top of all this, I juggle verbal slights, minor and not so minor iniquities, hurt feelings, unfairness among family members along with a tinge of anger sprinkled here and there.
At some point during the day, maybe it was on the long drive to my son's WeBeLo camp, the eye of the storm descended upon me. An idea hit me that brought me instant peace. You could call it an epiphany, an insight, or you could call it a gift from God. Where ever it came from, it has helped to calm the storm, close the curtains, settle the dust and relax my anxieties. Let me explain.
I used to attend Landmark Education courses quite a few years ago whose purpose is to help individuals live the life they love, obtaining the happiness and joy they desire. One of the principles I learned was centered around the theme of "expectations." Without getting too detailed or elaborate, I'll summarize. Our expectations can actually help to determine how we're going to feel depending on the nature of them. When we have expectations about others, whether it's how we think they should act or what we think they should say, we're setting ourselves up for disappointments which can cause unnecessary stress in our lives.
Applied to my own life, it means that if I expect others to do and think as I do, I will just about always be disappointed, hurt, or angry. If I have ANY preset expectations for anyone in my life, friend, family, or foe, on how they should behave or not behave, I will invariably feel let down if my expectations are not fulfilled. In case you're wondering what to do with this information, simply change your expectations or have none at all....the latter being the more prudent. With no expectations, you won't be looking for or expecting a specific outcome and therefore, won't feel the negative emotion you would normally feel when your expectation is not fulfilled. Some examples of feeling let down, hurt, or disappointed because of my own personal expectations are:
1.) I expect my daughter-in-law to behave similarly as my son. When he comes in town with the kids, he makes sure he visits his in-laws after he visits with us. So, I feel my daughter-in-law should do the same as he does.....visit us (her in-laws) after she visits her own parents. Needless to say, I felt angry and hurt when I found out she came in town for three days for a wedding shower, but didn't come by our home even for a short visit. We only live three miles from her parents. From now on, I'm going to remind myself that my daughter-in-law is NOT my son and will therefore not expect her to treat us like my son does.
2.) I've raised my kids Catholic and we always went to church every Sunday. I was hoping my grown kids would do the same. They do not. As a matter of fact, two of them dropped out of the Catholic Church; one is a practicing Catholic, but doesn't attend every week, and I don't think my other child attends at all even though she still considers herself a Catholic. My expectations didn't materialize.
3.)Since my parents are younger than my husband's parents, I don't understand why they don't invite their grown kids over for dinner anymore....especially when my older in-laws still do. My husband's parents are still active even though they are in their early 80's. My own parents are 75, but don't do much at all except eat out, and work out three times a week. It finally hit me that it's not fair for me to compare my parents to my husband's parents. I should just let them be who they are.
There are many more examples of carrying around expectations that end up causing negative emotions when the expectations aren't fulfilled. Perhaps, you can think of areas in your own life where YOUR expectations have led you down the wrong path full of unwanted feelings of anger, sadness, hurt, or disappointment. The next time, change your expectations and see what happens!