We’ve only got one shot at this thing called life.
And yet, all too many of us tend to give it away to living our lives according to other people’s expectations.
I was awake most of the night this past Thursday, worrying about what others think of me.
I haven’t been plagued with these worries for quite a while, so it kind of blindsided me when these old feelings surfaced again.
Then I got to work that day, and had a very powerful conversation with a friend who recently lost her husband to suicide.
One of the questions that she asked me that really tugged at my heart strings was when she asked me how she was going to keep her family together.
She told me how she misses her husband like crazy, while at the same time is so angry at him for leaving her all alone.
I told her that I could relate. After nine years, I still YO-YO back and forth between those two emotions with Victor.
So, this weekend as I pondered both my insecurities and the conversation with my friend, I knew I needed to write about the way we CHOOSE to live our lives.
As a mother I have watched as my children have gotten older and noticed how they have spent the first decade of their lives absorbing their world’s expectations for them –
They are constantly trying to figure out what I expect of them,
What their teachers need them to be and do,
And then how their peers expect them to behave.
They stress over how they look.
What will people think.
And how people perceive them in general.
My fear is that, like me, they will internalize those worries and allow it to cloud their vision of the future dreams that they may have.
I pray that they will not spend the next several decades trying to fulfill others’ expectations of what their lives should be like.
I have wasted so much time worrying about what everyone else thought of me,
And have not spend enough time worrying about how I was feeling about myself.
For me, It was around the time I was turning forty that I began to see clearly just how futile this attitude had been.
I was suddenly surprised to realize that I had not yet begun to live my own, authentic life. I had spend nearly four decades trying so hard to please everyone else and had never really even tried to figure out what I wanted for myself out of life.
I had always done what was expected of me…
And then wondered why I felt so lost, and unclear, never knowing if it was ever anything they actually even wanted.
I had no self esteem.
No sense of purpose.
No real dreams of my own.
I am very thankful for this inevitable conflict now however, because it is the very thing that eventually led me to wondrous personal development and growth.
So last Thursday, as I sat trying to make sense of the insecurities that I was feeling, I couldn’t help but ask myself this question…
“Can this kind of insecurity that led me to wasting years of my life be avoided if we teach our children and ourselves to set our own expectations for ourselves?”
Can setting these expectations help my sweet friend make sense of this tragedy in her life?
As a mother who has had to carry my own children through the shock and trauma of a suicide in our family, I know that the fastest route to healing for her and her family is to start to become brutally honest about how they feel about their fathers death.
To start immediately to demand that people respect their space and privacy.
And to figure out what it means for them personally to live their own authentic truth, (whatever that may be for them as a family and as individuals.)
The tricky thing for them, and for all of us in general is the ability to actually recognize that most of us already think we ARE living our own expectations, because we’ve internalized others’ expectations as our own at such a young age that it becomes extremely difficult to separate the worlds expectations from our own.
So how can you begin to live your own expectations, to create fulfilling lives filled with your own desires?
I think that you must start by recognizing that you are at a moment of choice!
Right NOW, as you sit here reading these words.
You are literally standing at a crossroad in life!
This morning as I realized this truth, It was a delicious moment of revelation.
I finally understood that my choices should come more from my perspectives than anything else.
In fact, my perspectives should be the factor that establishes the options I see and explore.
How I choose to view any situation shapes the outcomes that are possible.
So my message is simple, really…
The are to be willing to:
Set your own expectations for your life, based on your values and your priorities.
Think about what matters to you, deeply, and without judgment of yourself or others.
Allow your actions to reflect your lead values.
Allow yourself to see the world as you wish it to be, and allow your choices to create outcomes of joy and meaning.
Even in the midst of sadness,
During times of trials and tribulations,
There is joy to be found in the simplest appreciations of life’s wonder.
You can experience pure gratitude for the gifts and privileges that grace our unique world.
To be free,
To be at choice …
To live the life you want, in accordance with your values and in concert with your own vision …
Now, THAT is truly inspirational.
You’ve got one life – make it count. The choice is yours.