I had been looking forward to last weekend as my husband and I were going out with some old friends, I’d planned what I was going to wear, we’d booked the restaurant and we were going to see a band too. The only thing that we hadn’t planned for was my daughter throwing up 5 minutes before we were due to leave!
The old me would have thrown my hands up inside, told myself how I could never look forward to something without something going wrong, how things never work out and after having cared for my daughter and sorted her out, I would have been desperately disappointed and wondered what on earth I had done for my evening out to be ruined in such a way.
Now I am a firm believer that the art of expectation should have a government health warning in that it can affect your levels of anxiety, happiness, artificially raising your stress levels and therefore ultimately damage your health!
I used to be a great one for looking forward to something, I would plan what would expect to happen in my head to the last detail, this would often leave me desperately disappointed when my expectations weren’t met. Over the years, I trained myself not to look forward to things, as it was pointless, I would only be disappointed as nothing in my life worked out. It was part of the story that I told myself that had contributed to my, then, miserable life.
That’s the thing with expectation, we create, with our thinking, a fictitious world, that feels very real, one that we believe we should be living. We then compare the life that we have with it and feel like we have been short changed. However, what we often fail to spot is that it is simply a trick of our mind, a trick that makes us feel unhappy. We don’t know that a different life would be better and nor can we know the one that is to come (I’ve certainly not mastered the art of fortune telling) yet we get sucked into believing that we can.
However, there is one thing that we can always be certain of, one thing that is always within our control, and that is how we feel. I know that I have a choice, I can enjoy something in the future or I can dread it, I can be happy or I can be grumpy. It’s my choice how I view my life if you like, what glasses I view life through. I know that if I focus on all the negative then I will see more negative stuff, if I focus on the positive I will see more positive (it’s like seeing an ant in your garden and the more you look the more you see, and then you realise that you have a whole nest of them!)
So now I allow events, occasions, my work, whatever, to pan out in the way that it is meant to, knowing that I have little control over many eventualities, but that I know that I will be ok, and that I will enjoy it. I know that when I live in ‘reality’ I am at my best, I am at my happiest and that is what I was created for, not to live in a made up fantasy world of what I think I ‘should’ have. So on Saturday faced with a very poorly little girl, I declared a very special girls night in, my going out clothes quickly swapped for pyjamas, fluffy blankets were grabbed and films chosen. We battened down the hatches and whilst one of us was very poorly, it was a lovely evening, where I reflected on how privileged I was to be a mum of such amazing children, that whatever I thought was going to happen, I was meant to be where I was, and that there would be many other nights to come where I could do other things.
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