The holidays are upon us. There’s LOTS to do. There’s going to be many places for us to go and people to see and visit. But the holidays are a touchy subject for A LOT of people because it brings up some discomfort and thoughts that leave us feeling frustrated, upset, and disappointed. I want to spotlight just ONE of the many reasons why this is a tough time for people and what you can do about it.
We all have these EXPECTATIONS about how things should go and how people should act. THIS is the ONE thing I want to address today. Our expectations and WHY they create a problem and so much suffering for us sometimes.
For example, say I decide to host a holiday dinner party for my family. I want everyone to be there and come dressed in holiday attire and it’s just going to be this great event. So I spend lots of time and energy thinking and planning this party. I think about what food I should prepare and serve. I plan how my home should look and the decorations I want to put out. I plan games and activities for us to do and I visualize this party and all of us playing and laughing and eating and it’s just this amazing thing, right? I can’t wait.
So, day of the party. I’ve spent hours cleaning, prepping, preparing, and anticipating. The time has come! People start arriving and then things take an unexpected turn. My brother in law doesn’t show up and I start feeling annoyed that he didn’t even offer a head’s up that he wasn’t going to come. My sister comes an hour late (not in holiday attire) and then announces that she needs to leave early. This evening is a disaster!
We tend to forget about the other thirty people that came and are happy and dressed in ridiculous sweaters and focus all our attention on the two that didn’t conform to our expectations, right? I know we’ve ALL done it. You can have an amazing day and one person says one thing and we let it bother us to no end. So here – Let’s just look at these two today.
Obviously this is hypothetical but these things happen and we get upset. WHY? What is the REAL problem and WHAT can we do about it?
FIRST, we need to get rid of the story we play in our heads about how things SHOULD be. This doesn’t mean that we can’t plan and hope that things will go the way we want them to – but we need to be realistic and real when we go about our lives. Things happen, people are people, and no two people think alike.
Let’s start with the first disappointment: The brother in law that just didn’t show. Ask yourself WHY is this a problem in the first place? What are you making his absence mean to you? Are you making it mean that he doesn’t respect you or your time? That he doesn’t care about the family? If he loved the family he would be there?
The second disappointment: Sister that showed late (not dressed how you requested) and announced she was leaving early. Again, you need to figure out WHY this is a problem for you. What are you making this mean? That she doesn’t respect your time? That if she really cared about you she’d make more of an effort? That you spent all this time to plan a great party and she couldn’t even dress up? Or stay? Why did she come at all if she was only going to stay for thirty minutes? If she loved me and cared about me then she’d come – on time – in the right attire – and stay!
Two questions can offer you so much awareness as to what the real problem is – the root of what’s bothering you. WHY is this a problem for me? and WHAT am I making this mean?
Once you have your answers then you can start by figuring out a more loving and peaceful thought pattern to try on so you can still feel good and have a great evening.
For the brother that didn’t show. Do you know he doesn’t love you? Well no, but…if he did then he would have come or called at least. How do you KNOW he doesn’t love you? Can you prove it? Well no, but…He if he did he would WANT to be there. His family is here! If he loved us then he’d be here. But we just can’t know that those statements are true. We can’t look inside his head and know those answers so instead ask yourself this: Do you love him? Do you want him to be somewhere he doesn’t want to be or CAN’T be? Because you love him and because you are a loving person you can allow him the space he needs not to come, to not be somewhere he doesn’t want to be or can’t be. There could be a thousand reasons why he didn’t come or call. You don’t need to know any of them to feel love towards him.
For the sister, that came late (not in attire) Does coming late and leaving early mean that she doesn’t love and respect you? Well no, but…If she did she’d be there early to help set up and then she’d want to stay and even help with clean up! Was this a first time doing this? Is this a pattern? Does she really not like you? Do you really think she came late because she wanted to be mean? Do you think she has to leave early because she doesn’t want to be there? Can you love her just because she came at all? Can you love her because she’s doing her best – and maybe her best isn’t what you think it SHOULD be – but she really is doing the best she can for that day and SO ARE YOU. Can you let her leave early and be happy that you got to spend any amount of time with her?
You can only control your thoughts and your actions. You don’t get to control theirs. In fact, it’s exhausting to try! The best news is that you get to be whatever kind of person you want to be. Who is that? Are you someone who is loving? Can you love them not because they should love you and show up in a certain way but simply because YOU ARE LOVING?
Are you kind? Do you want to be kind? When they don’t come dressed how you requested or when they come late or not at all what do you think about them? We’re not kind because they adhered to all our requests – we’re kind because that’s who we are.
We need to STOP trying to make others be and act how we think they SHOULD be. It’s enough to try and focus on just making ourselves into the person we want to be, right? And most of us have a hard time managing that! Stop trying to control them and turn your focus onto yourself. You are kind and loving no matter what they do because you are a kind and loving person. -And not in a high and mighty way but authentic and genuine – When you show up kind and loving always no matter where you go and what you do you will have an amazing time because kindness and love feels so amazing.
So this holiday season (and always) turn your focus from what THEY should be doing and strive really hard to be the kind of person YOU want to be.
If the evening isn’t going how you thought it should go ask yourself why. What are you making it mean? How are you showing up? Are you judgmental? Are you condemning? Are you angry?
Or are you happy? Loving? Kind? Forgiving?
It’s really a beautiful thing. It’s an empowering thing to do. There is so much joy and freedom in just letting them be them and you being you. Love them always because YOU ARE LOVING.
Ask yourself these questions: Why is this a problem for me?
What am I making this mean?
How am I showing up?
Is this who I want to be?
There is an ABUNDANCE of love and connection to be had but you have to get rid of the giant barrier that’s standing in your way. Let go of your expectations for others and just love them as they are – not because of who they are – but because of who you are.
I’m sure you’ll have many opportunities to try this out this season. See what happens when YOU SHOW UP as the person YOU WANT TO BE instead of trying to mentally make others be who you think they SHOULD be. Amazing things will happen! I promise!