One of my best friends jokingly says in new situations, “Lower your expectations…and then lower them again.” I remember many years ago meeting up with my friend for lunch in our busy metropolis and as I sat across from her and told her I was having trouble finding good places to eat, a hairdresser and places to go for new activities, she threw her head back and laughed and said the above quote.
This friend who is a few years older than me, and much wiser, knew what she was talking about. She was not making her statement to be negative or a Debbie Downer. She simply did what I said in the practical piece on this topic and chose what to expect of her experiences before they took place—keeping her expectations lower—especially when these experiences could be challenging (think holidays) or new. Her rationale was that if we are mindful about the experiences we are having before they happen it makes a difference in how we respond to these situations when they unfold—whether they are positive or negative in nature.
I guess it boils down to living proactively and trying to think about things from all angles before the experience begins. If you are getting older like me, time is becoming precious, and you are naturally more mindful about experiences before they begin because you really want to glean the best you can from them since everything seems to take more energy. If you are younger, it may be a little more challenging to be mindful about experiences before they take place and think about the type of experience you are choosing to have; however, I dare promise you that if you consider the experience you hope to have and what you hope for it to be like—weighing all angles—you are more likely to have a better experience than if things “just happened” without this same level of thought.
Here is a practical example: This Christmas I will visit two sets of “families,” “friends,” “people” (you fill in the blank) who are very different. There are challenges and joys that accompany each of these families—just as I bring my own “challenges and joys” to any relationship I am a part of. As Christmas approaches, I am already thinking about what I hope to experience with each of these sets of people. I realize that with one set I will probably share more intimate details of my life and with the other will most likely be a more superficial version of myself, if you will. I can already foresee some challenges to these gatherings just as I already look forward to unique traditions these two very different group of people will uphold during my time with them. I even expect a few people to be on their worst behavior and am thinking of creative ways to avoid longer conversations with these individuals.
I cannot foresee ALL of the good and bad that may take place during these gatherings, but I do have some ideas. I am lowering my expectations and considering multiple outcomes and experiences so that I am as prepared as possible for immersing myself in these groups of people. And, perhaps most importantly, I am deciding now that no matter what happens I am choosing to remain joyful and politely remove myself from any conflict all while striving to be the best version of myself possible.
If you are struggling during this holiday season which is known to foster stress, depression and anxiety in the lives of so many, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Make an appointment with a seasoned and trained Orlando therapist and give yourself the best gift of all this season—wellness. Contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment.