Friday, 15 July 2016

STEP #6 ON THE JOURNEY TO HAPPINESS ~ LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS

Step #6 on the Journey to Happiness ~ Lower Your Expectations and the need for perfectionism and control

THE DESIRE FOR PERFECTION

I seem to have always had a yearning for the perfect family life. It may stem from my fairly dysfunctional, narcissistic parents who were only interested in themselves and the kids were just part of the furniture. To make up for that, I always pictured in my head how my family would look once I was married and had children of my own. But, somewhere along the line that picture has gotten a little blurry and I've had to re-think my expectations and perhaps even lower them a bit!


PERFECTIONISM AND CONTROL

After growing up in a family where my opinions were disregarded and I had very little say in things, I made very careful choices to ensure that didn't happen in my adult life. I wanted it all as perfect as possible because I always thought perfectionism was a really good thing - who wouldn't want a perfect life and a perfect family? 

What I didn't realize is that perfectionism is based on fear and the need to control your surroundings - I only learned this recently thanks to Brene Brown and her book "The Gifts of Imperfection" - this is a hard lesson I'm still absorbing. Perfectionism sets everyone up for failure. As soon as something happens to mess with the neat little picture in your head, disappointment sets in. Disappointment always comes hand in hand with unhappiness and a sense of failure.

BRADY BUNCH FAMILIES

The Brady Bunch were a fictitious family living in a fictitious world - it is an unsustainable model to base your family life on and I should have known better. There was just this thing inside me that wanted the "Brady Bunch" happy family, the "Big Fat Greek Wedding" lets all live nearby and be part of each other's lives family. I'm no Carol Brady and there's no Greek heritage to base my parenting on so I was setting myself up for disappointment from the start.


At some point you just have to let go of what you thought should happen and live in what is happening. ~ Heather Hepler

FAMILY FAILINGS

It took a cascade of family upheavals to make me finally let go of some of those expectations and Brady Bunch ideals and start accepting reality. There were so many less than perfect things happening - my children living away from home with no plans to return, my husband not wanting a nice 9-5 job, my work being fairly miserable, my dad having full blown dementia.......and so it went on. What happened to the sunshine, lollipops and rainbows that I had pictured all those years ago? 

CHOICES

I had two choices - Option 1) Living a life of regret and unhappiness based on real life not living up to a fiction I had created in my head of the perfect family living a controlled and perfect life and meeting all my perfect expectations.

Or I could choose - Option 2) Living a life that is real and gritty and less than perfect. I could lower my expectations and start appreciating the good things that were there all along but not acknowledged because I was looking elsewhere.

OPTION 2

I now choose Option 2) as my Modus Operandi - no more perfectionism for this little black duck! Instead I look at my kids leading great lives, my husband happy in his freelance work, my new job with so many more benefits, my mum happy in her life now dad's in care, my friends, my blog, and my life which has so many different facets to it - some pretty close to perfect and some not so much.

Life is pretty darn good - with all it's imperfections. And to leave with a quote from BrenĂ© Brown — 'Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we're all in this together.'

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Step #6 on the Journey to Happiness ~ Lower Your Expectations and the need for perfectionism and control

30 comments:

  1. Lovely words of wisdom. I dislike perfectionism and agree disappointment does follow behind.

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    1. They go hand in hand don't they Lee? And disappointment leads to unhappiness so you have to nip it in the bud.

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  2. Mixed up in all this perfectionism is caring what others think. When I let go of that and did what I knew fit more with my reality I really found happiness and freedom. So many things we can be happy with while accepting what is! Love this one, Leanne!
    https://meinthemiddlewrites.com/

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    1. Thanks Mary Lou - it's funny that you mentioned about it being tied in with what other people think - that's something I'm tackling next week. We get so caught up in trying to meet other people's expectations as well as our own and that's not healthy at all.

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  3. Oh boy. This is such a big one. Lower your expectations. Yes, there are all sorts of stated and unstated expectations in life.

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    1. I never realized how many expectations I had swimming around in my head Carol - far too many I'm sure. Losing a few of them has definitely de-stressed my life :)

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  4. As I'm sitting here this morning, I so needed to see this. Perfectionism is paralyzing. I need to read that book I think. Sounds like it helped you see your patterns and how you can reframe your life.

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    1. I read it at a good time Rosie - I was more open to the idea that perfectionism wasn't the wonderful thing I had always assumed it to be. To have someone so knowledgeable confirm that was really helpful.

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  5. There are so many unrealistic expectations in our world. I, too, have learned that my family is what it is, not what I wish it could be. I am fortunate to have a loving family even if we are far from perfect!

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    1. It's really not fair to expect our family to be picture perfect - we're all human have have our failings and frailities - giving each other permission to be less than perfect makes for a much happier family experience.

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  6. I love option 2 that is how life should be and it is nor perfect but worthwhile thanks for sharing your thoughts

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    1. I'm big on Option 2 now days Lindi - it makes for a much happier family and a much happier me :)

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  7. Very wise words. I think it's important to be realistic & also to be happy with what you have & not always searching for some perfect,unattainable ideal.

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    1. I totally agree - it just took me a long time to figure it all out - you girls are on the ball so much earlier than I was!

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  8. Perfectionism is a cruel master indeed, Leanne, having let it lead me a round for much of my life. Somewhere between 'good enough' and 'prefect' lies the sweet spot of serenity. Thank you for your perspective.

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    1. I love your "sweet spot of serenity" Molly - it's not about throwing everything away and not having any standards is it? It's about balance - that word seems to come up a lot!

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  9. Such a great and inspirational post! I left regrets behind a long time ago myself and vowed to always be true to myself and genuine to all of those around me. And I have stuck to that and have been much happier, for sure! I would love for you to come join my On the Edge of the Week Link Up which goes live every Friday at 5:00 p.m. EST! Have a fabulous weekend!

    Shelbee
    http://www.shelbeeontheedge.com/on-the-edge-of-the-week-link-up-5-and-tee-shirt-winner/

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    1. Hi Shelbee - I know what you mean about regrets - you just figured it out sooner than me! I'll pop over and have a look at your link up :)

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  10. Hi Leanne,
    I always had the Brady Bunch mentality. It's nice to know it's not just me.
    Thanks for bringing your post to last week's Blogger's Pit Stop.
    Janice, Pit Stop Crew

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    1. All we need is Alice and we'd be right up there with Carol Brady Janice :)

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  11. We are loving you. This post will be featured on the Blogger's Pit Stop. Congratulations.

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    1. that's so great Kathleen - I love being part of this community x

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  12. ACK! Perfectionism has been my nemesis on so many levels.
    Thanks for this help in slaying that dragon!

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    1. Mine too Michele - and it is a dragon of our own making - how silly are we??? :)

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  13. I had to read this twice. TWICE. Because I'm right in the middle of trying to lower my expectations and figure out how to go on as I do. Pinning.

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    1. It's a lesson I've been learning over the last few years Michelle - not something you learn overnight and I have to keep reminding myself to give everyone a break from it!

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  14. Congratulations Leanne! I have chosen this post as my favourite for this week's #OvertheMoon link up. Loving the series and have a lovely day. xx

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    1. Thanks so much Sue - I'll be linking up again next week - I love #OTM :)

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  15. Leanne - I can so relate to this. And I recount all the countless times I have been so disappointed and miserable because things did not turn out the "perfect" way I planned, in spite of my efforts to control it! Letting go of that now that I've reached midlife! Great post. Congratulations on being featured on #overthemoon

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    1. There are so many of us out there who think perfectionism is a good thing - we are so wrong! Expecting everything to be exactly how you planned it just sets you up for disappointment - shame it took me 50 years to figure that out Cathy :)

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