What is the most common cause of anxiety, stress, heartache, dissatisfaction, resentment, relationship issues, and nearly every other threat to our happiness and well-being?
While many things may come to mind, what seems to cause the most pain are actually just distortions that we can let go of, if we choose to - imposed expectations.
Expectations aren’t bad in and of themselves. Some are healthy - those for safety and protection, like a parent being expected to protect their child; those that are mutually agreed upon, like a contract to receive a service - however many of our everyday expectations are imposed on others and based in our desire to have what we want in spite of what another person may want or even be capable of delivering. Imposed expectations hold the key traits of being assumed, unrealistic, developed in a vacuum, and forced onto our reality or the reality of others. But we have the power to let go of these imposed expectations and establish healthier ones.
...many of our everyday expectations are imposed on others and based in our desire to have what we want in spite of what another person may want or even be capable of delivering.
When it comes to expectations in relationships, one of the pieces often missing is proper communication of wants and needs. It’s okay to set expectations in relationships, but only if mutual agreement is established through communicating your true desires and listening to your loved one’s true desires. Say them out loud and get verbal agreement that you’re on the same page. When you take the time to truly hear them, you learn what makes them feel safe, respected, and loved. And when they do the same for you, you’re on the right track to setting healthy, realistic expectations of each other.
When you take the time to truly hear them, you learn what makes them feel safe, respected, and loved.
Imposed expectations can also affect external situations. How many times have you felt let down because something didn’t go your way? Countless times, no doubt. As humans, it is so natural and common for us to get our hopes up about something - a job, a sale, travel plans - only to have it fall through. Releasing these situational expectations requires a different technique. Whereas the key factor for relationships is communication, the key factor here is surrender of control.
Circumstances happen all around us with many variables and factors that we often cannot even see. It’s impossible to control it all, but our minds can trick us into believing we can do just that. We must accept the truth that some situations and events that we participate in are not under our control. We can only control ourselves and how we react to those situations and events. So when you surrender the illusion that you can control all the variables, you also let go of how you expect that event will turn out. A useful technique is to visualize all the different possible outcomes. Imagine how you will feel, react, and what you’ll do next in each outcome. It’s about accepting that the results could go either way and coming to a peace about each possibility.
When you surrender the illusion that you can control all the variables, you also let go of how you expect that event will turn out.
When we communicate our needs and release control, we safeguard ourselves against the pain of being let down. We have to be honest about when we’re being unrealistic or making assumptions and imposing on others. There is freedom in letting go - our lives and relationships will be better for it.
Have you ever been stuck? Let me rephrase that...have you ever felt like you have so many ideas and possibilities in front of you that all you can think about is all those ideas and possibilities?
You may be familiar with the concept of decision fatigue - where you have so many options in front of you that you don’t know which one to choose (think Netflix movie night). This is a bit different. It’s more like possibility paralysis - you start to think of all the things you can envision for the future, the next steps in your endeavour, the potential ways to add on or improve the thing you’re starting - I call it the “the possibilities are endless” mind trap.
While this kind of brainstorming can be fun, empowering, and prudent for planning purposes, it can also be a stall tactic. If all you can think about is the destination, when will you actually start the journey? And if you don’t figure out how to put one foot in front of the other, how will you ever reach that destination of your dreams?
If all you can think about is the destination, when will you actually start the journey?
Using all your energy to envision the future leaves none to spend on making that future a reality. At some point you must come back down to earth and examine where you are right now, then assess what should come next.
I’ve found there is a best-of-both-worlds solution to possibility paralysis. Give yourself the uninhibited freedom to daydream and brainstorm your future, but put a timeframe around it. Also, be sure to share your dreams and all the hopes you have only with trusted loved ones. This will protect the possibilities you're exploring from negative influence and doubt.
Ask yourself...what will be the foundation for all of these possibilities to build on?
Then, when you’ve let your mind go to the expanses of the universe, ground yourself again in the present. Focus on today. Ask yourself, what do I do first? What will be the foundation for all of these possibilities to build on? Start a new brainstorming session where you plan out your first step, then your second, and so on. Now you have a true focal point to begin your work.
The possibilities truly are endless, but each one takes work and dedication. Focus on what to work on first and build your future one step at a time.
If you’re faced with a challenge or a decision to make, it’s always wise to pause and examine why you’re choosing one path or another. This is a good habit to establish when seeking to be more mindful and self-aware.
Somewhere, a long time ago, I read that there are two main motivators in life: love and fear. This idea stuck with me and I find myself circling back to it when I’m faced with and thinking through big decisions in my life. The concept seems simple, but it serves as a powerful gut-check about what is really driving you.
The way it works is to think about what choice you’re faced with - maybe you’re thinking about ending a relationship, or maybe you’re thinking about starting classes to earn a degree. Ask yourself “why am I considering doing this?”
If you ask yourself “why” enough times, you’ll eventually get down to one of two answers - either you’re excited by or in love with the prospect of something, or you’re afraid of an outcome or running from something.
If you ask yourself “why” enough times, you’ll eventually get down to one of two answers...
Some decisions are not inherently good or bad. What truly defines a decision is your motivation behind making that choice. For example, you may think that starting classes to earn a degree must be coming from a good place, since that decision is generally considered a positive thing in society. But if you get down to your core motivation and discover you’re only making that choice because you feel pressure to live up to your parents expectations, then the decision is not necessarily positively motivated.
As we’re faced with decisions, big and small, in our everyday lives, we must pause and consider our true motivations. This is a powerful tool of self-awareness that can uncover patterns that need our attention. Challenges will never stop coming our way, but we can choose to let love guide us.
Where to begin…
This is the challenge so many of us face when we’re in front of a new project we want to tackle, a new idea we want to explore, or a new relationship we want to pursue.
Where to begin… well at the beginning obviously, right? But if you’re like me, it’s not that simple.
The problem for some may be the planning part. For some it may be the thought that the venture may not turn out well. For others, it may be the feeling that you don’t have the time or energy available to put into this new thing.
In all cases, those doubts and hesitations are coming from fear. Remember those two main motivators we talked about - fear and love? Ask yourself the "why" questions, and if your answers resemble roadblocks, it’s usually because of fear of the unknown.
There must be a reason that the idea crossed your mind... Lean into that - what are you trying to satisfy with this new thing?
So how do you get past the challenge of beginning? I’ve found that a good first step is to understand what is drawing you to the idea of the project to begin with. There must be a reason that the idea crossed your mind. There must be a desire deep inside that brought that person into focus at this moment in time. Lean into that - what are you trying to satisfy with this new thing?
Next, tell yourself you’re worth it. If you have a desire to try something new, it’s for a reason and you deserve to explore it. Invest in exploring your talents, abilities, skills, your potential to love or grow in relationships. You are worth investing in.
We have the will to do what we are driven to do if it’s important to us and if we feel strongly compelled to do it.
Now tackle the fear. Fear can manifest as false beliefs - like believing you don’t have the ability to plan or you don’t have enough time to take on a new venture. I say these are false because the human spirit is powerful. We have the will to do what we are driven to do if it’s important to us and if we feel strongly compelled to do it. Maybe there are things you need to work on or improve, like organizing your time, but it is possible to learn new skills through practice and determination. There may be things you need to sacrifice to keep your balance as well, like giving up an hour of TV time to put towards something else. This is possible by creating new habits through discipline, which we all have experience with (hello, daily routines).
So when beginning something new seems out of reach, remember that it actually is within your reach if you believe it is. You are more capable than you know. Take a chance on yourself - you never know what could become of it.
What is wellness?
The word is used quite often, tossed around in the weight-loss world, in the mental health world, in the celebrity influencer world. But it’s far more than a buzzword. The true meaning of wellness is a powerful concept.
The official definition states that wellness is “the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.”
It’s that last part that’s the key - deliberate effort. Another definition phrases it as an actively pursued goal.
Your energy, time, and money are what keeps your world turning - what you spend them on establishes what’s of value to you.
Wellness is a lifestyle. It’s a purpose-driven, intentional pursuit. In order to pursue something or set a goal towards something, you’re committing your energy, your effort, sometimes your money, and always your time towards that thing. Your energy, time, and money are what keeps your world turning - what you spend them on establishes what’s of value to you. What you consider to be valuable shapes what you prioritize and what you prioritize stems from how you think of yourself.
So when we think of it this way, a focus on wellness is a declaration of what you believe you are worth. Are you worth a calm mind in the midst of a chaotic world? Are you worth a healthy heart and relief from physical ailments? Are you worth a confidence of spirit to know you’re on the right path?
In case you were hesitating at all, the answer to each of those things is YES! You are worth all of those things and more. Turning your focus and intention to wellness is your way to realize everything you’re worth.
DeLaVie was created for our pursuit of wellness. And we are worth it.
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DeLaVie is about the exploration and pursuit of total wellness. I hope you find some insights here. Feel free to share your thoughts or experiences in the comments.
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