18 months ago I began the book "Mastering your mean girl" by Melissa Ambrosini. I highly recommend it to anyone who struggles on the daily to just DO things out of fear that it might not be the absolute BEST thing you could be doing in that moment. I struuuugle with this. I want to be SO sure that what I'm doing is the best, that I often waste a lot of time debating and then my "mean girl" inside me berates me for it.
This book helped me see that this mean girl was a lot of ego, a lot of fear, and a lot of just mind fog from unhealthy living and unrealistic expectations. And if we are putting a magnifying glass over just THIS section of my weaknesses..... I had put expectations on EVERYTHING in my life. NO just myself.
This one section on "expectations and disappointments" in the book keeps affecting my life all these months later. It is the principle, or idea, of living and acting in constant LOVE and gratitude which can ONLY happen when we drop assumptions/expectations about others or our situations we are in. Realizing that as long as you have expectations about people or things... you will inevitably have a LOT of disappointments about people or things. We can't control other people. We can't predict exactly what will or won't happen.... and really, if we could, how boring would that be????
Last summer I was trying this principle out in many different situations.
I was absolutely mind blown how much of my life I was living and how many choices I was making ONLY due to the assumption that a certain experience would be or feel or create a certain feeling or outcome for me. I was demanding the outcomes to be 100% what I expected. And you know what? When you live like that---------> you get disappointed a LOT.
Not only did I learn how immature I was for expecting to be able to predict the future or be able to change things that had thousands of moving variables----
------------------ hold on a minute.
Let's unpack that a little-
This sounds so silly. "Thinking I could predict the future." But think about it! Do you have expectations for things? I'm not talking about setting goals and planning your week. I'm talking about expecting the baby sitter to be on time all the time. I'm talking about showing up to a doctor's appointment and being taken back and seen and diagnosed and prescribed within 30 minutes of your arrival? I'm talking about your kids being well for that vacation. I'm talking about everyone loving that dessert you brought to the office party. Do you expect things to HAPPEN?
And then do you find yourself COMPLAINING when things do NOT go the way we expected???
There are SO MANY other people involved! There are so many other variables. Why did we even think to begin with, that we could somehow control it all and be able to EXPECT anything?? And then we complained when it didn't go the way we wanted?? Get this little nugget of TRUTH---> We only complain about things we CAN change.
Think on that amazing idea for a minute.
Ok back to the train of "Not only did I learn how immature I was for expecting to be able to predict the future," but I was also living in total reactive mode. I was going into experiences and situations willingly, but with assumptions about how I should act, and even how I would react once I was in the experience. It was SO DUMB!
I wasn't truly coachable or OPEN to NEW ideas or feelings. I wasn't OPEN to seeing or feeling anything I hadn't already predetermined I would feel or experience. I was SO caged and closed.
I would sit in church and totally be having a debate in my head about what the preacher was saying, weighing what they believed against my own ego instead of appreciating the lessons the preacher had learned and what they would encouraging me to try if I needed it. I'd be watching the clock, expecting the meeting to end on time so I could.... xyz.
Why couldn't I just love the experience of being shoulder to shoulder on the pew with people I loved, who also enjoy living a life of faith? Why did I have to be so hell bent that I had to learn some ground shaking idea or be moved to tears or it wasn't "worth it?" And heaven forbid the meeting should go over the allotted time.
I would sit in my baby's room rocking her to sleep, becoming more agitated the longer it took.... instead of realizing the beauty of that scenario! The absolute blessing of it. That of all the things that humans in the world are doing- of ALL the things I would do in my day that day, this moment of rocking a baby I loved in a dimly lit room full of peace and calm was beautiful. THIS moment had to happen regardless of anything on the agenda. This moment was created BY me.... why wasn't I just loving it and soaking up ALL the peace and calm I was offered in it?
MORE and MORE examples came into my life. I was finally AWARE. I was seeing my entire life was this crazy rat race of discontent and disappointment over and over. No wonder I was feeling less than! No WONDER I wasn't finding my footing in my weight loss. No WONDER I was feeling small.
So I started analyzing my thoughts more as I would go into situations. I would try to catch myself in the thought process of "Oh this is not going to go well.... because xyz....... and I should have xyz..... and THEY should have xyz to make this better and why can't this be xyz so that this would be...................." and so on.
One experience in particular, really sealed the VALUE and TRUTHFULNESS of this principle for me.
We had planned a trip to a unique waterpark with extended family MONTHS in advance. It was a waterpark that was built from water that came out at the base of a small mountain and was a natural WARM spring. The water throughout the waterpark is all naturally really warm and full of minerals. (As a mom with little kids, warm water is always a plus!) The waterpark is surrounded by huge trees that have benefitted from this water source for a LONG time. Long ago the owner of the land built a homestead near the spring, which eventually has become a lodging area for people to stay at the property longer than just the time needed for swimming. They have invested time and $ into creating many water slides, family swimming areas, smaller pools for people to soak in the mineral waters at higher temperatures, family picnic areas and pavilions, LOTS of grassy space with volley ball pits and a playground, and they even built large teepees for people to rent to sleep in with padded cots. Its a really unique and fun little resort. We booked the teepees and planned to have a fun adventure!
As the time neared for this anticipated fun weekend at this waterpark, my husband ended up needing to work. We knew it was a possibility, but hoped it would pan out. It didn't. At first, my mind went "of course this would happen. Of course!" And I stopped myself and said, "Oh! My husband isn't coming- but my kids are all healthy and my sister and her hubby will be there. We'll just take it a day at a time. We'll be good."
I packed the car and we started the journey. This resort is about 1.5 hours away. The car ride was great, my kids helped the baby and things were going well. I determined not to assume how anything would go. I would not get upset if dinner wasn't RIGHT when I thought it should be. I determined my kids would just have extra snacks and that was fine. This might sound crazy to you- but with my intentional parenting, I really feel that keeping my kids on a tight nutrition schedule is healthy, so just throwing in extra snacks and having dinner late feels out of place for me. HOWEVER- I was able to instead of focusing on my kids nutrition- focus on the memories we wanted to have from this weekend. I focused on supporting my sister and her hubby and THEIR memories they no doubt wanted to have too! I focused on who I WANTED TO BE in those memories. Did I want to be the stressed out mom/sister who needed things to be a certain way? Or could I just relax and take things in stride and LOVE the moments, love the people and just let it flow how it would flow?
It was SO hard for me. I'll be honest. This way of thinking isn't what I grew up with, and it isn't what comes naturally to me in my proactive and intentional way of living.
Dinner came and went and it was relaxed and fun. My meal I had prepared didn't turn out how I preferred, but it was what it was and we threw a lot of it away and ate fruit and marshmallows instead. THOSE sentences alone were crazy to me.
I didn't have my kids go to bed "on time" either. I just let the night wind down, focusing on the people around me- really internalizing that these people took time to be with ME. These people WANT to be with ME. These people WANT ME TO BE IN THEIR life this weekend instead of being alone. How can I honor that?
Do you see how this changes things?
If you are like me in anyway---- you are probably taking deep breaths right now and wondering how its possible to live this way.
Let's keep going!
I got my four older kids settled into the four teepee cots & I had planned that my baby and I would sleep on a foam mattress in the center of the teepee floor. The top of the teepees were open to the sky and they were made of two layers of thick canvas. The floor of the teepees were concrete slabs, with woven carpets laid on top. As the campground got quieter and quieter, my baby started crying louder. My habitual mind started..... "Great. Now all the campers get to be annoyed at my baby. They are probably laying in their beds with their eyes open just cursing my crying baby." Then my 5 yr old stirred, and whimpered that he was scared. And I snapped at him to go to sleep. No way was the 5 yr old getting coddled when I was standing in the middle of the teepee at 10:30pm holding my baby with an aching back. Didn't he know how stressed I was feeling?
Immediately, I caught myself.
Robyn...... stop. Breathe.
I went over to the 5 yr old and rubbed his back and told him it was ok to feel scared since he had never slept in a teepee outside before. In my mind I was shaking my head, "Of course he's scared! How could I be so unfeeling!!! Gosh I need to get a grip." He closed his eyes and I could tell he would drift off soon.
The baby was still crying and I was trying to sit down with her and rock but she wasn't having it.
I didn't want to stand up- she was SO heavy, and yet I knew that she would settle down if I did.
Then my new thought patterns showed up, and my mind started looking for the MAGIC in this moment.
"Robyn. Just stand up and rock that baby. Hum your favorite tune, and calm down. Even if you don't get the best night's rest, you are having an adventure of a lifetime! You are at the base of a mountain with a natural hot spring, made into a waterpark. You are nestled with your sweet family inside a teepee! A TEEPEE! How neat is this? You are surrounded by people who have taken time to be with family and to have FUN and relax. You are with family members who WANT to be here with you. Listen...... its quiet outside. It's safe. You are surrounded by hundred year old trees and of ALL the things you could be doing, you are here. RIGHT in this amazing spot on earth." I started humming the song, "I am a Child of God."
I looked down, and my baby had stopped crying and was staring upward.
I looked up to see what had her attention and my breath caught!
The top of the teepee's were open to the sky, just about 10 inches in diameter. But oh my goodness. The STARS. I swayed back and forth with my baby looking up at the stars thinking about this moment. THIS MOMENT. And I felt it.
Magic started swirling around me.
Thats the best word to describe it!
I felt an overwhelming gratitude and joy fill my whole body as I looked from the starry sky, to the teepee, to my four kids sleeping, to my baby who now was sleeping in my arms. And there was ME. Standing in the middle of a teepee in this amazing place, at 11pm at night filled with JOY for what I was given. For what I was experiencing. For this MOMENT. For the facts that we were healthy enough to DO this sort of thing. For the fact that we had the $ to lodge here, to enjoy the water park, to drive here, to buy and bring food, to see and enjoy this place and these days so FULLY.
I slowly laid down, and just pulled my sleeping bag over my babe and I and as I drifted off to sleep I reflected on what had just happened. In times past I would just be frustrated to no end. I wouldn't have thought about the stars. I wouldn't have thought about my blessings. I would have just been upset that we weren't getting enough sleep and then projecting that I would be grumpy the next day because of it and thinking of all the things I "should have done" to make this better....
Why had I been living that way?? Why assume so much? Man. This principle of NO expectations- NO assumptions and just living with GRATITUDE and having simple preferences- but being ok as things panned out, was becoming not just something I was trying out... but something I knew NEEDED to become my new way of life.
The next day was magical as well.
I watched with new eyes as my children's eyes lit up at each turn down the fun named water slides "The Black Hole" or the "Dragon". I watched with wonder how my baby splashed the water and then looked at her shiny hand as it got wet and the water slid off. I watched family after family, couple after couple smiling and enjoying this day, this place. I saw SO MUCH JOY. I saw GOODNESS. I was filled, again, with joy and gratitude. Sure. I was a little tired but that was fine. I realized that the lack of sleep was a very small price to pay for the memories we were building in just a few short days. Memories of JOY, and of wonder, and family bonds and wholesome recreation and full LIVING.
I had ZERO disappointments, since I had ZERO expectations. Sure, I had some preferences- that we'd play at a waterpark and sleep in a teepee and have food and stay safe. But even if those things had turned out not to happen, life is still GOOD. There will be other opportunities.
What a SHIFT in my though processes. What a SHIFT in the amount of JOY I was feeling!
I realized how much JOY and MAGICAL moments I had missed because I was SO SO SO focused on the expected. I was SO focused on assuming people were thinking or doing things when really, I had NO idea because I never actually asked them. Why was I thinking people were thinking about me anyway? And why would I assume they were thinking negatively about me? Seriously?
I don't think negatively about others, so why did I assume others would???
The more I got thinking about my old ways, I realized how limiting and dumb they were.
Serving NO ONE. Especially not those I cared for most.
I continued to practice this thought pattern and belief, and it is more of a habit now.
It is STILL a work in progress.
I am not naive to think I could erase 30 years of thought patterns in a few months- but I DO know from experience, that we CAN CHANGE anything we intentionally and consistently put the work in to change. I KNOW that the ability to CHANGE is a universal TRUTH.
I have felt MORE joy in my life the past few years than I have ANY memory of feeling in this quantity in my life. It is ALL IN MY MINDSET. I don't have more money than I did 2 years ago. I don't have a different job. I don't have more time. I don't have less responsibilities. I don't have a different spouse or number of kids at home. But I DO love my spouse MORE. I Love my JOB more. I love my kids MORE if you can believe it. I am PROUD of them and myself MORE. I am OPENLY proud of OTHERS who are doing good things. Hard things. I am more compassionate and empathetic. I am living more in LOVE.
I have a LOT less disappointments and a lot more CURIOSITY about why things went how they did and why I acted a certain way. I've gotten BRAVER about being curious about my own actions and preferences. I've taken more time to dig deeper into my beliefs and perceived limits and WHY they are there. In that process I've also been able to CUT some of my limiting beliefs to experience even MORE JOY, and build other belief systems that serve me and my family better. This hasn't come without emotional fatigue. This hasn't come without some grieving for past belief systems that served me for a long time, but now I've let go and had to adjust. This hasn't come without having to limit my exposure and communication with relationships in my life who don't choose to support this new way I desire to live.
I've am still learning. EVER learning.
And I know that I will never be done. But this ONE change of thought patterns and perspective, I felt really does matter and I needed to share it. Anything the brings so much peace, gratitude and JOY to ones life is something others' deserve to know about. As a busy mom of 5, and business owner, and wife of almost 17 years to an amazing career driven man- this has brought constant MAGIC back into my life that I've been BLIND to for too long. I am determined to NEVER lose it again.
If you'd like to work with me in a healthy life change, where we learn more of these ideas of mindset change while working on our health fill out this application and I'll be in touch!