We know we can’t control people, places, or things. We can control our own behavior. We can let past mistakes go, too. Can we also let go of our expectations?
This is truly difficult. We have lots of ideas and plans! What if we let go and it all falls apart?! (But will it really?) Does life truly ever work out the way we think it should?
I am all for planning. I love my Google calendar and its reminders. And, I have four more hard copy calendars to help keep track of 4 categories of plans (work, family, workouts, dates)- each with their own time zones. (I also make lists, like crazy) I probably go overboard…
How does a plan differ from expectation? We can plan a date. But is it fair to expect to fall in love? We can plan a family game afternoon. Is it realistic to expect everyone to have fun? We plan meals, but does dinner ever turn out the way you thought it would?
AlAnon* has a saying “If you want to make God laugh, tell (her) your plans”.
I planned to have a quick early few hours in the office last Friday (possibly to impress my coworkers, or maybe just to kick off early). I got in there bright and early with a ride from my son. I started tapping away on my keyboard, (with self satisfaction) and then sniffed around, confused. I smelled cat pee somewhere… Where? Every time I turned my head, I smelled it… Yes, you guessed it- the cat pee was on me! I had put on my daughter’s sweatshirt in a rush, thinking I would look so hip in the Burton look I stole from her while she was away at swim practice. I was hoping to impress my coworkers with my youthful casual Friday look… But alas, hipness evaded me- my daughter’s cat had peed on it and my back was being marinated- the sweatshirt, the shirt under, and my back were soaked. Totally disgusting. The cat had saved up apparently. My manager’s manager stopped by to talk to me, and I saw her visibly take a step back from my door… I had no change of clothes, and I was there at the office early, which meant there was no one there, to give me a ride home (I had loaned my car to the cat’s owner). So I was totally grossed out, distracted, and of course, lost my self-satisfied focus. I ended up at the office for 6 hours, not 3, missed my scheduled time at home, but ended up light-hearted the rest of the day, and had a great time being present with friends later in the afternoon. So, did the cat get me to be in the moment? Who knows. Don’t try this at home.
Do we notice when we are called to get off of your programmed life and show up for something different than we had planned? I think we all need a shot of cat pee every now and then, especially when I am trying to impress, sneak around, be overly proud, or overly expectant.
Action Item: Try the Serenity Prayer. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”. Sometimes I say this at night when anxiety is making it hard to keep my eyes closed. I just repeat it over and over, as a prayer, an affirmation, a thank you, a plea… Try it!
Also- Stop. Breathe. Be in the Moment. And smile.
You are aware enough and present enough to know that shirt you are wearing is dry and clean.
*Alanon is a fantastic free place to go when you feel like you have lost control/never had control/ wish you had control/want to control. It is for families and friends of addicts, who, as we know, have no control, and sometimes luxuriate in it, causing their families and friends large chunks of pain. Alanon meetings are different everywhere you go, but I usually find health and a small space of serenity when I attend. A large bit of time is spent on the concept of acceptance and what that means, really…