I’m not talking about the Pandemic or the brouhaha over health care reform and other large things. Because, let’s face it, the big things are usually self-limiting. The Pandemic can only go on for so long. And they’re probably never really going to reform health care.
I’m talking about the little things we have to deal with on a daily basis in our very personal lives. The pebbles, rocks and boulders that line our path and hurt our figurative feet or make us stumble; the things we have to make big detours around. You know, your hours at work are cut back (ouch!), your girlfriend dumps you (okay, pick yourself up and move on), your car breaks down (man, that is so not what I wanted to spend that money on right now); those sorts of things. If you find yourself feeling frazzled and at the end of your rope and you don’t really know the cause, the following reasons might be why.
Everyone has expectations. You have them. Your boss has them. Your significant other has them. We should do away with expectations.
Basically, an expectation is a prediction about the future. Your boss expects you to make X number of sales or bring in X number of dollars per sale. But you can’t make people spend money they don’t have or sell something to non-existent customers, so you don’t meet his/her expectations. Grief results. Your girlfriend expects you to remember the day you two met and exactly what she was wearing. You can’t and grief results.
We cannot truly predict the future and our best efforts often go for naught. The best thing would be to inhabit the NOW and not try to predict the future or dictate behavior (our own or others) based on expectations. My mom used to say, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” It can be a good philosophy.
This is also true for the example I gave above of the car that breaks down necessitating that money saved for a trip (for example) be spent to fix the car instead. By remaining open and adaptable to life’s twist and turns, you can eliminate a lot of the stress. Once, I had the notion that I would be able to spend the entire day with a friend, doing together the things we both loved to do. She had a change of plan and so I changed mine. There was a very brief moment (I’m so not perfect) of disappointment, but I went on to have a very nice day on my own. Understand that I think it is fine to make plans. Plans are different from expectations and without plans nothing would get done. Do accept, though, that they may change.
So if unrealistic demands are being made of you and your resources (either by you or an outside source), look at the situation as dispassionately as you can and ask yourself this question: how is that working for you? If is isn’t working, sit down and realistically look at what needs to change so that enough does not become too much. It can be painful and difficult sometimes to make changes, but continuing in a dysfunctional situation is not healthy in the long run.
Perfection at its Worst
Nothing is or ever can be perfect … except for, as some would say, God’s Love. Give up looking for the perfect anything. Looking for perfection in anything is just too much to ask.
This isn’t a sad thing really. It doesn’t mean that you need to “settle” for something undesirable. It’s just that maybe your ideal picture of the way things should be might not be reasonable. Hearkens back to expectations, I know. Personally, I believe expectations are the biggest impediment to happiness, but I’m breaking it down a little further. And anyway, stopping after those first few paragraphs just isn’t like me. I tend to beat things to death.
Two other girlfriends and I were sitting having a chat one day. Of the three of us, two were married and one was not. The unmarried friend was lamenting her status. This was many years ago at a time when a woman still needed to be married … for whatever reason. I’m dating myself and this was truer for my mother’s generation than mine … still. Both I and the other married woman answered at the same time in the same way when the unmarried woman asked why she couldn’t find a guy with, “Don’t be so picky.” Her reply was, “But …” In all the time we kept in touch, she never found a guy that measured up.
Waiting for the perfect guy, the perfect moment, the perfect job or the perfect anything is just going to keep you waiting.
Security is a Myth
And the sooner you get down with that notion, the happier you will be. All of the frazzle over income, jobs, health, relationships, et cetera will just drop away. Okay, maybe not all, but it will help.
I’m a mostly rehabilitated security freak. I could never save enough money. I worried about my health and my husband’s. I was miserable most of the time living in the future of “what if.” Preparation and planning is one thing. Emotionally investing them with the ability to protect you from harm is another thing altogether. Stuff just happens despite our desires or plans. Learn to be comfortable with uncertainty and life will be much more peaceful. I’m working on it.
You can work out, eat right, get plenty of sleep and still develop a serious illness. You can have a million dollars in the bank and think you are set for the rest of your life and die in a car accident tomorrow (well, I guess that then you were, technically, set for life; maybe I need a better example).
Do you get the connection here? It’s not so much outside forces that are the problem. You know, a driver cuts you off in traffic or your mother-in-law tells you that you’re a terrible mother. There will always be outside forces. No, it’s how you react to the external situations of your life that matters most.
So, how do you know when enough is enough? It’s pretty simple really and you probably already know the answer. It’s when you find yourself saying that you don’t think you can take anymore. If you find yourself saying that if one more stupid thing happens, that will be it, then you’ve had enough. When is enough too much? It’s when things have gone so far that you can’t seem to see a way out of it. That’s when you need to make a change. I believe that at that point, taking a look at your expectations about your life will help tremendously. It has for me.