Letting go of expectations during the holidays

After reading the Classic Peanuts comic strip in this morning’s paper I said to my husband, “Lucy is expressing my sentiments.” In this, she tells her brother she always wants to get her way and when he assures her this won’t happen, she says at the very least she’d like to know ahead of time when she’s not going to get it.  I feel the same way.  I can deal with disappointment, but I adjust better when I have plenty of warning.

December is the month everyone — children and adults — wants to get their way, whether it is receiving a particular gift, having all the relatives get along without a squabble, or just surviving the shopping/cooking/baking/traveling experience without feeling drained and stressed.  How fortuitous then to come across a blog post by Leon Babuta, zenhabits.net, called “Toss Your Expectations into the Ocean.” Mr. Babuta reminds us that, typically, we carry around expectations wherever we go, expectations for ourselves and others.  We have fixed ideas about how others should behave toward us and how they should act in the world, as well as about what we deserve.  Since no one, including ourselves, ever lives up to our expectations completely, we feel angry or disappointed.

He recommends, as an alternative to holding expectations that can’t be met, that we try to live without them. If we can’t do that, then the next best thing is to recognize what’s going on when we find ourselves frustrated because we believe someone let us down. “Accept it and let it go,” he says. I still prefer Lucy’s fantasy of receiving advanced notice when our expectations are not going to be met, but I’ll think about letting go the next time I don’t get my way.

About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
This entry was posted in current events/themes, inspiration, stress. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Letting go of expectations during the holidays

  1. Debi F says:

    I can remember both the relief and guilt I had the first Christmas after my 92 yr old Mum passed away . . . relief that I didn’t have to “do” Christmas to meet the expectation of others and guilt that I felt that way. Of course now I realize doing the full blown Christmas thing was a gift I was given – with a limited time frame. This year . . .off to Hawaii, never unpacking the decor, catching the songs on the radio and thinking about doing an Audubon Christmas bird count.

  2. Pingback: Letting go of “shoulds” | Still Life

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