Letting go of the way we think life should be is not easy. My daughter, Ellie, likes to remind me daily, “That’s not fair.” And I often respond with, “Life’s not fair.” I remember the moment when I realized my future would not look the way I had planned. My family was gathered around my husband’s hospital bed in the middle of the living room and a hospice nurse was explaining to my heavily medicated husband that she was a hospice nurse and not a nurse sent from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The moment I knew he understood, I could see a physical change in him. That was the day my heart broke and I knew the future I had planned would never exist. Thinking about this moment brings up so many deep and painful emotions, and yet letting go of expectations is a lesson I’m constantly given opportunities to grow through.
I find that my need to create expectations is a result of wanting to feel in control in order to feel safe, which is driven by fear. Expectations can create entitlement and when those expectations aren’t met (and they usually aren’t), disappointment is oftentimes the result. If I get stuck on the expectation of how I believe someone should behave, how a date should go…you name it, then I’m so focused on controlling the situation that I miss the lessons and, most likely, the beauty of what could be.
For me, this can manifests itself through expectations I put on my family to help me with Ellie. Both of my parents are very successful individuals and their lives are full of opportunities to travel for work and pleasure, at times taking them away from home. When they are busy, I have moments when I want to throw myself a pity party because I start to feel the responsibility of being a single parent. There are even times I find myself on my high horse, believing my parents should be around to help me, but eventually I find myself off the horse because I realize Ellie’s and my life are not their responsibility, they’re mine. Then I think about all the times they do help me with her and all the kind things they do for us (which are too many to count) and I trade expectations for gratitude. I am truly blessed to have such loving and thoughtful parents.
Recently I’ve been challenged with this expectation lesson through dating. It’s one thing to have your values and your standards, which I do, but I’m learning how to be openminded and to let go of my expectations of when it will happen, how it will happen, and what it will look like. I’m learning to focus on the essence rather then the form. Whether or not I’m dating someone does not define my value. In fact, I’m completely content with being single. I want to let go of my expectations in this area of my life in order to be open to life’s blessings, even if it doesn’t look the way I thought it would.
So what area in your life do you find you’re constantly disappointed in because of your expectations of how it should look? How would your life be different if you exchanged your expectations for gratitude?
My former life coach, Christine Hassler, wrote a phenomenal book about this topic called Expectation Hangover. I highly recommend it if you’re like me and struggle to let go of your expectations of how things should be. As always, thank you for hanging out with me today! I can’t tell you enough how grateful I am for YOU! Love and blessings.
PS – Wanting to inspire a group you are a part of? If so, I’d love to come speak at your next event, meeting, or gathering. Email me today [email protected]. Looking forward to connecting with you soon!
PPS – If you’re looking for an inspirational and meaningful book to share with your family check out The Ellie Project, written and illustrated by my late husband, Andrew, for our daughter in the final months of his life. It’s a powerful book and we’d love to share it with you. Get your signed copy at www.ellieproject.com.
PPPS – Day 17 of Whole30!! Feelin’ pretty proud of myself and, for those of you on this journey, I’m proud of you, too! Way to go!