BEFORE all else fails, lower your expectations...

Lower Your Expectations

You’ve heard it said ‘when all else fails, lower your expectations’ — I say ‘before!’. Why? Long ago I heard this quote and took it with me: “Discouragement is the illegitimate child of false expectations!” Loyd Ogilive. I believe most, if not all, of our disappointment comes from what expect in a certain situation. In jest I say to my wife, “if only you’d lower your expectations, I could be the man of your dreams” and there is some truth in that. The only time I get frustrated with her is when I forget that people are unmanageable and that my expectations are just that; my expectations and not anyone else’s truth or reality…

One of my favorite authors Melody Beattie shares this on the topic:

When you’re starting a first creative project or beginning the study of an art or craft, what I want you to do is lower your standards until they disappear. That’s right. You’re not supposed to be any good at the beginning. So you might as well give your­self the liberating gift of joyously expecting yourself to be bad.

— Barbara Sheer and Annie Gotlieb, Wishcraft

When I first began writing newspaper and magazine arti­cles, it took me anywhere from one to three months to com­plete a short article. After writing for a few years, I brought a timer into my office one day. I told myself I knew how to do what I was doing, now I was going to learn to do it more quickly. Before long, I was able to write in two hours what had previously taken me months to accomplish. The key words here are in time.

When I first began recovering from chemical dependency, it took me eight months of treatment to understand what other people were comprehending in six weeks. In time, I became a chemical dependency counselor. In time, I wrote books on the subject. The key words here are in time.

When I first began recovering from codependency, I couldn’t tell a control gesture from setting a boundary I didn’t know when I was taking care of myself or what that even meant. I didn’t know manipulation from an honest attempt at expressing my emotions. In time, I wrote a best-seller on the subject. Again, the key words here are in time.

Start where you are. Start poorly. Just begin. Let yourself fumble, be awkward and confused. If you already knew how to do it, it wouldn’t be a lesson in your life. And you wouldn’t get the thrill of victory two, five, or ten years from now when you look back and say, “Wow. I’ve gotten good at that over time.”

All things are possible to him or her that believeth, the Bible says. Enjoy those awkward beginnings. Revel in them. They’re the key to your success.

God, help me stop putting off living out of fear of doing it poorly. Help me lower my expectations to allow room for awkward begin­nings.” via September 8: Lower Your Expectations.

God, give me the courage to fully live my life. Help me deliberately talk myself into doing things, instead of scaring myself away.

Tell Yourself How Simple it is

 

Melody Beattie writes:

Here’s another example about the power of simplification.

For years, I heard about hiking. It sounded so elusive, diffi­cult, and mysterious. I didn’t do it, but I thought about hik­ing wistfully. One day, a friend asked me to go hiking with him. “Sure,” I said. As the day of our hike approached, I began thinking things through. I was getting a little nervous. What if I couldn’t do it well enough? What if I didn’t know how to do it at all?

Don’t be ridiculous, I scolded myself. You’re making this much more complicated than it really is. Hiking is just walking, and you’ve been doing that since you were ten months old.

The next day, I arose at 6:00 A.M., and my friend and I left for our hike. I followed my friend as he began walking up the steep incline.

Just walk, I told myself after the first ten steps. Put one foot in front of another. Walk like you’ve done all your life.

I didn’t make it to the top of the mountain that day, but I made it almost halfway.

Is there something you’ve wanted to do but have put off because it sounds too difficult and complicated? Are you say­ing no to something in your life that you’d like to say yes to, but it seems elusive and out of your reach? Try reducing the task or activity to its simplest form.

I have a friend who hadn’t dated for years. One day, a girl he liked asked him to go to the movies. He was anxious and nervous.

“Going to a movie is just sitting down and staring at the screen, then getting up and going home when you’ve fin­ished,” I said. “I think you can do that.”

“You’re right,” he said. He went and had a great time.

Sometimes, we can scare ourselves out of doing the easiest things in life. Yes, hiking involves more than walking. And going on a date with someone involves a little more than sit­ting and staring at a screen. But not that much more. Simplify things. Bring them down to their most manageable level. Instead of talking yourself out of living, learn to talk yourself into it.

God, give me the courage to fully live my life. Help me deliberately talk myself into doing things, instead of scaring myself away.” via September 6: Tell Yourself How Simple it is.

 

God, if I’m complicating a task or making it too big and unmanage­able in my mind, help me to simplify what I see.

See it Simple

 

 

God, if I’m complicating a task or making it too big and unmanage­able in my mind, help me to simplify what I see.

Melody Beattie writes:

“It’s too much,” I said to my instructor. “Jumping out of a plane is too much for my mind to comprehend.”

“Then keep it simple,” he said. “Break it down into parts. You have the ride up, where you practice relaxing, your exit, your free-fall time; then you deploy your parachute. Then you decide if it’s working or if you need to go to plan B. Next set up your landing pattern. When you get near the ground, pull your strings and flare.”

I could handle the steps, but the big picture of jumping out of an airplane was too much to envision. But exiting, falling stable, pulling, and flaring were simple parts that felt man­ageable. My mind could comprehend these simple tasks.

You may never make a skydive. Or maybe you will. But there’s a lot of things in life that seem like too much if we try to see them all as one big thing. I never thought I could stay sober and drug-free for twenty-seven years. But with God’s help and the help of the program, I believed I could refrain from using drugs and alcohol for twenty-four hours. Then the next day, I got up and believed the same thing again.

There have been times I didn’t think I could start my life over. But I could get up in the morning and do the things I thought best for that day.

Are you facing something now in your life that feels too overwhelming? Then simplify it. Break it down into manage­able parts until you can see how simple it is.

God, if I’m complicating a task or making it too big and unmanage­able in my mind, help me to simplify what I see.” via September 5: See it Simple.

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Celebrate

Melody Beattie writes:

Take time to celebrate.

Celebrate your successes, your growth, your accomplish­ments. Celebrate you and who you are.

For too long you have been too hard on yourself. Others have spilled their negative energy — their attitudes, beliefs, pain — on you. It had nothing to do with you! All along, you have been a gift to yourself and to the Universe.

You are a child of God. Beautiful, a delight, a joy. You do not have to try harder, be better, be perfect, or be anything you are not. Your beauty is in you, just as you are each moment.

Celebrate that.

When you have a success, when you accomplish something, enjoy it. Pause, reflect, rejoice. Too long you have listened to admonitions not to feel good about what you have done, lest you travel the downward road to arrogance.

Celebration is a high form of praise, of gratitude to the Creator for the beauty of God’s creation. To enjoy and celebrate the good does not mean that it will be taken from you. To celebrate is to delight in the gift, to show gratitude.

Celebrate your relationships! Celebrate the lessons from the past and the love and warmth that is there today. Enjoy the beauty of others and their connection to you.

Celebrate all that is in your life. Celebrate all that is good. Celebrate you!

Today, I will indulge in the joy of celebrating.” via August 26: Celebrate | Language of Letting Go.

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Self care

Melody Beattie writes:

“When will we become lovable?  When will we feel safe?  When will we get all the protection, nurturing, and love we so richly deserve?  We will get it when we begin giving it to ourselves.”Beyond Codependency

The idea of giving ourselves what we want and need can be confusing, especially if we have spent many years not knowing that it’s okay to take care of ourselves.  Taking our energy and focus off others and their responsibilities and placing that energy onto ourselves and our responsibilities is a recovery behavior that can be acquired.  We learn it by daily practice.

We begin by relaxing, by breathing deeply, and letting go of our fears enough to feel as peaceful as we can.  Then, we ask ourselves:  What do I need to do to take care of myself today, or for this moment?

What do I need and want to do? What would demonstrate love and self-responsibility?

Am I caught up in the belief that others are responsible for making me happy, responsible for me?  Then the first thing I need to do is correct my belief system.  I am responsible for myself.

Do I feel anxious and concerned about a responsibility I’ve been neglecting?  Then perhaps I need to let go of my fears and tend to that responsibility.

Do I feel overwhelmed, out of control?  Maybe I need to journey back to the first of the Twelve Steps.

Have I been working too hard?  Maybe what I need to do is take some time off and do something fun.

Have I been neglecting my work or daily tasks?  Then maybe what I need to do is get back to my routine.

There is no recipe, no formula, no guidebook for self-care.  We each have a guide, and that guide is within us.  We need to ask the question:  What do I need to do to take living responsible care of myself?  Then, we need to listen to the answer.  Self-care is not that difficult.  The most challenging part is trusting the answer, and having the courage to follow.

Today, I will focus on taking care of myself.  I will trust myself and God to guide me in this process.” via Blog Archives – help and hope ministry.

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Detaching in Relationships

Melody Beattie writes:

When we first become exposed to the concept of detachment, many of us find it objectionable and questionable. We may think that detaching means we don’t care. We may believe that by controlling, worrying, and trying to force things to happen, we’re showing how much we care.

We may believe that controlling, worrying, and forcing will somehow affect the outcome we desire. Controlling, worrying, and forcing don’t work. Even when we’re right, controlling doesn’t work. In some cases, controlling may prevent the outcome we want from happening.

As we practice the principle of detachment with the people in our life, we slowly begin to learn the truth. Detaching, preferably detaching with love, is a relationship behavior that works.

We learn something else too. Detachment – letting go of our need to control people – enhances all our relationships. It opens the door to the best possible outcome. It reduces our frustration level, and frees us and others to live in peace and harmony.

Detachment means we care, about others and ourselves. It frees us to make the best possible decisions. It enables us to set the boundaries we need to set with people. It allows us to have our feelings, to stop reacting and initiate a positive course of action. It encourages others to do the same.

It allows our Higher Power to step in and work.” via Detaching in Relationships – Saturday, August 21 – Adult Children Anonymous.

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Asking for What We Need

 

Melody Beattie writes:

Decide what it is you want and need, and then go to the person you need it from and ask for it.

Sometimes, it takes hard work and much energy to get what we want and need. We have to go through the pains of identifying what we want, then struggle to believe that we deserve it. Then, we may have to experience the disappointment of asking someone, having the person refuse us, and figuring out what to do next.

Sometimes in life, getting what we want and need is not so difficult. Sometimes, all we need to do is ask.

We can go to another person, or our Higher Power, and ask for what we need.

But because of how difficult it can be, at times, to get what we want and need, we may get trapped in the mind set of believing it will always be that difficult. Sometimes, not wanting to go through the hassle, dreading the struggle, or out of fear, we may make getting what we want and need much more difficult than it needs to be.

We may get angry before we ask, deciding that we’ll never get what we want, or anticipating the “fight” we’ll have to endure. By the time we talk to someone about what we want, we may be so angry that we’re demanding, not asking; thus our anger triggers a power play that didn’t exist except in our mind.

Or we may get so worked up that we don’t ask–or we waste far more energy than necessary fighting with ourselves, only to find out that the other person, or our Higher Power, is happy to give us what we want.

Sometimes, we have to fight and work and wait for what we want and need. Sometimes, we can get it just by asking or stating that this is what we want. Ask. If the answer is no, or not what we want, then we can decide what to do next.

Today, I will not set up a difficult situation that doesn’t exist with other people, or my Higher Power, about getting what I want and need. If there is something I need from someone, I will ask first, before I struggle.” via Just For Today Meditations » Blog.

 

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Saying thanks

Melody Beattie writes:

“We learn the magical lesson that making the most of what we have turns it into more.” Codependent No More

Say thank you, until we mean it.

Thank God, life, and the universe for everyone and everything sent your way.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Gratitude makes things right.

Gratitude turns negative energy into positive energy. There is no situation or circumstance so small or large that it is not susceptible to gratitude’s power. We can start with whom we are and what we have today, apply gratitude, then let it work its magic.

Say thank you, until you mean it. if you say it long enough, you will believe it.

Today, I will shine the transforming light of gratitude on all the circumstances of my life.” via Just For Today Meditations » Blog.

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Letting Go

Melody Beattie writes:

“For those of us who have survived by controlling and surrendering, letting go may not come easily.” Beyond Codependency

In recovery, we learn that it is important to identify what we want and need. Where does this concept leave us? With a large but clearly identified package of currently unmet wants and needs. We’ve taken the risk to stop denying and to start accepting what we want and need. The problem is, the want or need hangs there, unmet.

This can be a frustrating, painful, annoying, and sometimes obsession-producing place to be.

After identifying our needs, there is a next step in getting our wants and needs met. This step is one of the spiritual ironies of recovery. The next step is letting go of our wants and needs after we have taken painstaking steps to identify them.

We let them go, we give them up – on a mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical level. Sometimes, this means we need to give up. It is not always easy to get to this place, but this is usually where we need to go.

How often I have denied a want or need, then gone through the steps to identify my needs, only to become annoyed, frustrated, and challenged because I don’t have what I want and don’t know how to get it. If I then embark on a plan to control or influence getting that want or need met, I usually make things worse. Searching, trying to control the process, does not work. I must, I have learned to my dismay, let go.

Sometimes, I even have to go to the point of saying, “I don’t want it. I realize it’s important to me, but I cannot control obtaining that in my life. Now, I don’t care anymore if I have it or not. In fact, I’m going to be absolutely happy without it and without any hope of getting it, because hoping to get it is making me nuts – the more I hope and try to get it, the more frustrated I feel because I’m not getting it.”

I don’t know why the process works this way.

I know only that this is how the process works for me. I have found no way around the concept of letting go.

We often can have what we really want and need, or something better. Letting go is part of what we do to get it.

Today, I will strive to let go of those wants and needs that are causing me frustration. I will enter them on my goal list, then struggle to let go. I will trust God to bring me the desires of my heart, in God’s time and in God’s way.” via Just For Today Meditations » Blog.

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Accepting powerlessness

Back to back Melody Beattie! Here she writes:

Since I’ve been a child, I’ve been in an antagonistic relationship with an important emotional part of myself: my feelings. I have consistently tried to ignore, repress, or force my feelings away. I have tried to create unnatural feelings or force away feelings that were present.

I’ve denied I was angry, when in fact I was furious. I have told myself there must be something wrong with me for feeling angry, when anger was a reasonable and logical response to the situation.

I have told myself things didn’t hurt, when they hurt very much. I have told myself stories such as “That person didn’t mean to hurt me.” . . . “He or she doesn’t know any better.” . . . “I need to be more understanding.” The problem was that I had already been too understanding of the other person and not understanding and compassionate enough with myself.

It has not just been the large feelings I have been at war with; I have been battling the whole emotional aspect of myself. I have tried to use spiritual energy, mental energy, and even physical exertion to not feel what I need to feel to be healthy and alive.

I didn’t succeed at my attempts to control emotions. Emotional control has been a survival behavior for me. I can thank that behavior for helping me get through many years and situations where I didn’t have any better options. But I have learned a healthier behavior – accepting my feelings.

We are meant to feel. Part of our dysfunction is trying to deny or change that. Part of our recovery means learning to go with the flow of what we’re feeling and what our feelings are trying to tell us.

We are responsible for our behaviors, but we do not have to control our feelings. We can let them happen. We can learn to embrace, enjoy, and experience – feel – the emotional part of ourselves.

Today, I will stop trying to force and control my emotions. Instead, I will give power and freedom to the emotional part of myself.” via Just For Today Meditations » Blog.