I know how this will sound. I do. I know exactly where your mind will go when I make this statement, but I make it anyway and I stand by it because of my personal life experiences. There is one thing that I have learned in the last three years of therapy, and that is our expectations are often what can sabotage a relationship. I’m talking ANY relationship–your mama, your friends, your partner, your children. If you want better relationships you need to be open to lowering expectations. That is where I previously failed. I’m ok with admitting I failed–I learned from it, that makes it experience. In the past I thought lowering expectations meant that you were thinking less of yourself, but really it’s not about you at all–rather your changing your perception of the actions of others by changing the filters through which you see them.
Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you’ll understand what little chance you have in trying to change others. -unknown
I have a real life example!! My mom comes down for Christmas every year. She loves it, the kids love it, and nowadays, I love it. It used to be much more challenging. My mom is amazing, and totally my bestie, but we work best sometimes with some distance between us. I used to get very frustrated by…..well, several things, but the main thing being that she’s kind of a Negative Nancy sometimes–very complain-y. About everything. Like, alllllll the things. This is tough for me, who is constantly looking for a silver lining when the shit goes down. So I would spend significant amounts of mental energy trying to “fix” all the possible things she could complain about. The thing is: Not my monkeys, Not my circus. I cannot control whether or not she will be displeased with a restaurant based on its portion size, or anything else in the universe that she might be unhappy with. I know some days I wake up in a bad mood and not a damn thing will fix it until I decide to Elsa that shit and let it go. So I stopped worrying about her happiness and started concentrating on my own. I plan things for us to do, I run them by her, if she shoots down an idea I no longer take it personally. If she has complaints I fix it if possible, but I don’t get personally invested. It’s not that I’m not aware of her happiness, or that I don’t CARE about her happiness–I want everyone who visits me to always have a good time and think of my house with warm fuzzy feels because I’m awesome and my family is awesome and spending time with us is awesome. But putting the happiness of others before my own, while totally a chick thing to do, was just too damn exhausting, so I changed the things within my control. Now I am able to find joy in every minute I spend with her because my expectations have changed. None of us are getting any younger and I would hate to have regrets on something that I have the ability to change. Flipping that switch with HER, helped me figure out how to do it with most everyone else.
You teach people how to treat you.
Then I set some other boundaries for the house that really helped, such as our no-news rule. If I allowed it, then any of the grands would keep the tv on MSNBC or CNN all day . Nope. I spend 40hrs a week watching news, I’m not letting that negativity leech on my time off. Sure, I’m not sitting watching it, but I’d get drawn in on a story and before I know it I can feel my BP rising and I’m adding another item on my “reasons to leave this country for a few years” list. And, if I’m being honest, the news is the last thing that anyone needs to watch nowadays. Anyone and everyone. Seriously–go learn a craft, play in the park, watch a movie…..go live your life. We didn’t have 24hr news when I was growing up, we had local news and the we watched world news and that was it. I rarely joined my parents for news hour, that was when I did my homework. But my kids are getting snippets of news here and there and I don’t like that one bit so this is where I pull out my mommy card and say no–not in my house. It was as if I’d lost 10lbs on my shoulders when I made the no-news rule. In fact I felt so much better that the no-news rule is in effect any time I am home. Occasionally I’ll watch if something major happens(such as 41’s death when I was on bereavement leave), but I can easily go a week without watching the news and be absolutely ok with that. Really–you should try it, because the news is awful. All of it. The left side, the right side, the middle….I’ve been watching it for 17yrs and it has worn me down. I mean like worn me down. I’m not getting out that soapbox today, just believe me—life is happier without the news. I’m sure there are 17 different studies that prove this is true AND false, but again my life experience is dictating my actions. I’m not always right, but I’m pretty sure that I’m right about this.
It will all be ok in the end. If it’s not ok, then it’s not the end.