‘Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.” -Brene Brown
Something on which I am spending a lot of time in therapy discussing is my expectation hangover from my childhood. For those of you unfamiliar with this term, it refers to the disappointment one experiences when your reality does not match your fantasy. I grew up watching a good deal of TV. Personally, I am not against children watching TV, I am actually in favor of it. I think it has a significant impact on children learning the language more quickly. But of course, as with anything, too much can become severely detrimental, but not in the way for which it is famous.
I won’t go on about the sheltered life I led, with which most of you are already very familiar if you’ve been reading the blog. Couple that sheltering with a large amount of TV and you have a recipe for creating a very distorted reality. Join that with being raised with a very “If, then” mentality and you have a recipe for disaster. “If you do X, they Y will happen”. Guess what, in real life, that is just not the case. The paths of human existence are far more puzzling and not at all linear.
I’ve spent a lifetime chasing after a fantasy that does not exist, while missing out on all of the wondrous and challenging reality around me. I’ve been an escape artist, adept at traveling far away in my own head and at most, every now and then, reentering my body to be in the moment. Buddhism teaches, be here now. I admit I have been absent for so much of my life, mostly because the dreams in my head feature no pain. In my imagination, there is always singing, dancing and pure happiness; an endless party. But real life is joyous and real life is agonizing. And while I haven’t yet convinced myself that I am always capable, I have survived everything thrown my way thus far and will survive whatever is to come.
I’ve mentioned before that it is truly amazing when you take a step back and listen to your own self-talk. Mine is filled constantly by “shoulds”; I should, he should, they should, the world should, etc. That kind of self-talk is rooted in perfectionism and that perfectionism bears horrific daily anxiety. In my quest for peace, I am attempting to find acceptance; they say it is the road to enlightenment. While I will never give up my desire to change the world and make it as I think it “should” be, I first must accept the reality that is by simply returning to my body for good, actually doing more and contemplating perfection less in my own head. That is how true progress is made.