I was not a very nice wife the other day. I apologized and we talked it out, but it was still bothering me. I decided to write about it, in order to process it. It was Sunday morning and I ran to the store to pick up a couple of items we were missing to make breakfast. My expectations were that while I was at the store Dave would prep everything so that when I got home we could quickly make breakfast. Although when I got home, I noticed Dave had done nothing. Well, he took the dog out and started some laundry, but he didn’t do what I had expected of him. How dare he, right? Well, I am not proud of it, but I got annoyed and it caused a stupid fight.
It brought me back to something I’ve been working on for awhile now, which is trading my expectations for acceptance. As you can see, I have not mastered it quite yet.
Last time I shared how becoming aware that I was stuck in my infertility struggle was what helped me come out of my “blissfully ignorant” place, that place where I was only hearing what I wanted to hear. Well, awareness is great, but in order to keep moving forward on my path to healing and peace, I needed to get a place of acceptance. At first, this was scary because at the time I thought accepting meant giving up, that I failed, that I was saying I didn’t want a child.
In reality, acceptance meant that I didn’t have control over my life, that I couldn’t predict the outcome, that I couldn’t force, push and make everything in my life just happen. I realized that I needed to let go of the expectations I had for how I thought my life should unfold . . . which was to go to college, get married, have kids and live happily ever after.
I discovered that not only did I have these expectations of myself and my life, but I also had them for the people in my life. I expected Dave, my friends, and my family to comfort me and make me feel better when I was down. The crazy thing was my expectations were always changing day by day, hour by hour at the time, so it was nearly impossible for them to meet those expectations. This caused me to feel constantly let down by almost everyone around me.
It wasn’t easy, but as I moved through the acceptance phase of my healing, I worked on accepting myself exactly where I was at the time. I accepted that I didn’t have to be perfect, that I could make mistakes, that I was doing the best I could at that time in my life. I also worked on letting go of my expectations so I could accept that the people in my life where also doing the best they could and that I couldn’t change them, but I could change how I responded to them.
I have found that there are many areas of my life in which expectations can hold me back from accepting where I am at life. Here are just a few of them:
• Life should be fair: Unfortunately, life is not fair. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic but we are not meant to live a life without any challenges. Life would be boring. I believe our challenges are meant to teach us lessons and help us live fuller lives.
• I can change him/her: There is really only one person you can truly change and that is yourself. The only way people change is when they are ready and have the desire to do so. I have found that as I work on changing myself, my interactions with the people around me also change, usually for the better.
• Things will make me happy: Yes things can make you happy in the short run, but what about in the long run? When you look to the future (“I’ll be happy when I have a child. I’ll be happy when I get that job.”) to find your happiness, you are probably avoiding looking inward for why you are unhappy. If you don’t address what’s going on internally, no external event is going to make you happy, no matter how hard you try.
• People can read my mind: Or maybe better said is, people know what I am trying to say. Either way, people can’t read your mind and you can’t expect them to. I know I can do this with Dave. When you are talking to someone it can be easy to leave out relevant information because you don’t think it is necessary. This is when clear communication and taking into consideration the other person’s perspective is important.
I know I am still working on trading my expectations for acceptance, as you can gather from how I handled my Sunday breakfast interaction with Dave, and I’m okay with that. It’s increasing my awareness, teaching me lessons and helping me live a fuller life.
I found another great quote; this one is by Michael J. Fox, “My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.”
All my best,
P.S. Next time I’ll share with you what the next phase of my healing path was. So far, the first two have been awareness and acceptance. Can you guess what the next one is? It just may help to set you free.