Thursday, November 15, 2012

Day One – Letting go of unrealistic expectations

So, how does one begin to have a “nourishing” holiday season?

I think a good place to start is with expectations.

I used to be a part of a cult that only let me live by standards from a very strict set of guidelines.  It was really hard fulfilling all of my obligations.  Most people would have thought it was crazy if they knew what I was doing.  Who made these regulations?  Me.  What was the cult?  My unrealistic expectations.  I expected myself to eat a certain way, say certain things, laugh at appropriate jokes, wear appropriate clothes, and so on.  This lifestyle called for constant vigilance!  There was no room for failures, and there was definitely no room for me.

{Photo courtesy of Craig Borchers}
Often times, we don’t know why we are so stressed out or why we are so overwhelmed.  Taking some time to think about the things that are getting you in a funk can be really revealing.  Most of the time, we are stressed out because of some “expectation” we “have” to fulfill.  Most of the time, your boss is yourself.  You put the chains around your ankles and you are the one who has the key to unlock the chains and set you free.  Letting go of an expectation that is causing you stress can be very liberating.  If you are having a hard time letting loose, try seeing yourself through your friend’s eyes.  Would you expect your friend, or someone you love dearly, to live up to your own expectations?  If my friend’s pumpkin pie didn’t turn out like the picture, would I scorn her and shun her from my life?  NO!  I wouldn’t think anything about it.  I am happy to be in her company.  Even if my friend showed up to my house with un-brushed hair and un-matching socks, I would love her all the more!

Love yourself as you love your friends.  Be kind to yourself as you would be kind to your friends.

Cliché challenge of the day:  Embrace yourself, embrace your strengths AND your weaknesses.  As the popular (yet perseveringly applicable) saying goes, “Be yourself, because everyone else is already taken.”

Take some time today, 5-10 minutes, and think about the main things that stress you out over the holidays.  Write the top three things down in a journal.  Also, write down why these things are so stressful to you.  Then go down the list one by one and decide if it is an expectation you’ve created for yourself.  If it is, cross it off your list!  Comments accepted and highly encouraged!

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