“Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.” Anne Lamott
We have all experienced things not going as planned lately. This can bring about feelings of anger, frustration, despair and resentment…sometimes all at the same time! What do we do in those moments, weeks and months where we feel we are navigating life without a compass? We can practice acceptance, self-compassion, let go of perfection, and cultivate joy through gratitude.
For better or for worse, accepting the reality of our situation is necessary for moving forward. This does not mean that you are okay with how things are, but it gives you a place to start! It’s important to remind ourselves of the things that are in our control, and the things that aren’t.
There are times when the decisions we make did not turn out like we thought they would. There is a temptation to blame yourself for the unfavourable outcome but remember: we make the best decisions we can with the information we have at the time. Hindsight is 20/20, so have compassion for the person you were when you made the decision. You were doing the best you could.
Ask yourself, “What did I learn from this experience?” Success is not about doing things perfectly; it is about learning the lessons you need to learn about yourself and the world around you.
Let go of perfection
Do you have high expectations of yourself, your business, and the people around you? Chances are, perfectionism is a factor in your life. The trouble is, when we set unattainable goals for ourselves and others, we are setting everyone up to fail. Perfectionism is externally motivated, where we are concerned about how others see us. Healthy striving, on the other hand, is having high standards without expecting perfection. It is internally motivated, and there is room for failure, growth, and self-care.
Cultivate joy through gratitude
What I learned after recently making a big decision that did not turn out as planned, is that part of accepting the outcome is choosing to not focus on my disappointment. Joy is one of the most vulnerable emotions we can feel. Have you ever been intensely happy, maybe about a business success or major milestone, and then in the same moment picture something terrible happening?
Joy is not a feeling that happens every minute of the day. Instead, we have moments of joy throughout our day. Paying attention to them, savouring them, and leaning into them helps expand our awareness and creates space for more joy. One of the fastest ways to combat the fear of vulnerability during moments of joy is with gratitude. So if you see me on my sidewalk at a safe distance from my neighbours, muttering, “I’m so grateful for my daughter’s independence, I’m so grateful she has a bike,” as she barrels down the road, wobbling and weaving, finally righting herself and riding smoothly over the gravel, you will know that I am feeling both joy and vulnerability at exactly the same time, and I’m leaning in.
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