The holidays are coming up. For many people that means a joyous time of added stress. What causes stress? A number of things can do it, but basically it comes down to a difference between our projected image of the world, and the real world.
When we have a vision of how the “perfect” meal should come out we then feel the stress of the difference. We then feel compelled to make the meal “fit” that image in our mind. That compulsive feeling appears to be the answer to what will make our stress feel better. When we have an expectation of how someone “should” behave, and they don’t fit that mental image, we create stress. The answer our distorted belief system proposes to stress is to figure out how to get someone to behave differently. So we stress some more about coming up with the “right” way to change someone else’s behavior. All the while not paying attention to the other half of the problem,,, our expectations.
The need to control things or other people and make them “perfect” might seem like the solution, but actually it is just another reaction to a previous feeling.
So my suggestion to reducing stress is to first be aware of the need to control and make things “perfect”. Then shift your attention away from making reality fit a seemingly “fixed” mental image or expectation. Instead, put your attention on that expectation. Expectations are much easier to change than someone’s behavior, the reality of airline delays or, getting the mashed potatoes just right. To be flexible give your self more than one option of what would be “okay.” For practice or fun make it a game and give your self, and the people around you 3 or 4 options.
Stress is a good indicator that you are more attached to the illusion image in your mind than you are being present with the world around you.
Of course it is only easier to change the expectations when you are aware that you have them,,, and that they are not matching up to reality. Notice that, and you’ll begin to see that you can change the stress you feel by detaching from some of your expectations, and accepting the mashed potatoes just the way they are.
May Blessings to you, family, and friends this season.
Gary van Warmerdam