Phew but 2016 was a tough year! What made it tough though? Well, normally the amount of emotional pain you feel is roughly equal to the distance between your expectations of reality and reality itself. In other words, if reality does not meet up to your expectations of reality, emotional pain results. This is so true for relationships as well.
If you had to take all your expectations of your partner and have them embodied as a person, you would be presented with a demi-god! So near perfect would this divine creature be. The reality is that you get a flabby, belching, farting, forgetful, complaining, grumpy human being. In just about every relationship, the reality of what is received is far removed from the expectation of what is wanted.
This is the main source of pain in your relationship, that feeling of “This is not what I ordered!” The truth is that relationships are not made to order, you will always get what you need (in order to grow and become a better you) and very rarely what you actually want. So how about this year you embrace what you have, warts and all, and let go of your unrealistic expectations? Let’s be real, you don’t match up to your partner’s expectations either. No, you really aren’t that perfect.
Perhaps it is for you to learn and grow from what you have. How would a stronger, healthy you handle the relationship you have? Is it time to say “NO!” to that abuse? Is it time to receive the love you are being given and give up on that notion that you are unlovable? Only you know what it will be.
The truth is that expectations are usually wrong. Whether you are expecting perfection and getting a human, or expecting to be mistreated and getting real love instead. Let’s make 2017 the year that you let go of these expectations and start living in the real world!
Back in the day, way, way, way back in the day. Joe, let’s call him Joe, or Susan (because it could have been a woman), was taking a power walk through the jungle when he (or she) heard rustling in the bushes. Now these being dangerous times (as they always are) he (or she) had a decision to make: run – because there is a tiger in the bushes; or, run – because there might be a tiger in the bushes. A mistake at this juncture could mean one less Joe or Susan on the planet. So, Joe (or Susan) decided that for the sake of all Joes (or Susans) on the planet that it would be far safer to make the mistake of thinking that there is a tiger in the bushes (when there possible isn’t) than making the mistake of thinking there isn’t a tiger in the bushes (when there actually is). In other words, Joe (or Susan) quite happily made the first mistake over and over and over to avoid making the second mistake (and thereby becoming lunch, after all, you are only lunch once). We have been following in Joe’s (or Susan’s) footsteps ever since. It is called the negativity bias.
Say I handed you a list call “5 Things about You”, and it read as follows:
- I like your generous nature
- I think you are very tolerant
- Your sense of humour needs some work
- You are an excellent cook
- You have great taste in clothes
What would you take away from that? If you are like most people you would be thinking, “So what is your problem with my sense of humour anyway?” If you thought you were pretty amazing after reading that, you can stop reading this now. See most people would gloss over the glowing compliments and focus on the one negative thing that was said about them. No, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with you if you do that so you can relax, remember the tiger in the bush? We are programmed to focus on the potential (if non-existent) threat. We are Teflon to the good things and Velcro to the bad.
Think about it, you are driving to work and for just about the entire trip everything goes a-ok, but then some #$@! cuts you off and for the rest of the day, you are thinking about how well the trip went, NOT! You are fuming and steaming about that idiot, what you should have said or done, and gosh darn it, your day is ruined! A bad event gets a lot more screen time in your mind than good events. Let me rephrase that, a helluva lot more. So basically, you go through your day glossing over the good things, obsessing over the bad, and anticipating the other shoe dropping. It’s not to say that you don’t enjoy the good times, but one bad event is equal in emotional power to about ten good events.
Ok so we have a predominantly negative focus, we tend to major on the minors, but surely this serves to keep us safe? Perhaps, but if you think of all the missed opportunities and shipwrecked relationships that we have left in our wake because we only think there is a tiger in the bushes it is in our best interests to face this bad habit head on. The truth is that there is very little in life that is really life threatening, and all the negative things that you tend to obsess over are really inconsequential. There is much in life that is not worthy of the f***ks you give them.
So how do we break this habit? Bad news folks, you don’t. It is a deeply ingrained evolutionary quirk (you can thank Joe for that). There is something you can do to shift the balance somewhat though. Firstly, you can let yourself off the hook for it, instead of thinking that you are just a pessimistic and hopeless case, realise that you just simply a regular Joe (or Susan). Secondly, when the good things come (and there are so many if you look) like the cup of coffee, the blue sky, the flowers, the birds, the smile of your child, the hug of your spouse etcetera, then allow yourself to wallow in the moment. Start training that brain to prefer the good things, to seek them out. Lastly, you can pursue inner peace like a cat chasing a laser pointer. If it doesn’t bring you peace (be it an experience, or if you can’t avoid the experience, then your thoughts about that experience) avoid it like the plague, and choose something that does bring you peace.
Choosing love over fear in this way can have untold positive effects on your life. Who knows what it will bring to you. If nothing else you will certainly feel a lot better about life, and when you feel better about life then you start making better choices.
A belief is nothing more than an assumption about reality, this is why there are so many of them, and they can change with the discovery of a new fact. Beliefs are nothing more than our observations, the judgements we bring to our responses, the meanings we add to the things we encounter. Quantum physics has gone a long way to prove that we live in an observer created reality, which basically means that it is the assumptions we hold about life that shape our reality. The judgements you hold about other people will make them so in your experience, as I have said before, reality is nothing more that energy arranging itself to match your beliefs. It also means that if you change your assumptions/judgements/observations/beliefs about reality then the reality you are observing will change.
It is quite possible that you have held the opinion for most of your life that your reality is something separate from you and you are subject to its whims, this is how it appears to you. When you sleep through life, your reality is created by default but as soon as you become aware then the magic begins. I have had the delight of seeing client’s change their circumstances noticeably by simply shifting their observations. Some people simply can’t accept this as a fact because they have lived so long as a victim to their circumstances that those circumstances just seem like brutes that they can neither control, change, or overcome. Their experiences certainly seem to back up their belief, but what they don’t know is that it is their beliefs that have given them those circumstances. This idea that reality is an absolute deal, and you are either lucky in life or very unlucky, is firmly entrenched in their neural pathways, and when something is that entrenched it is the law.
What I am saying about the true nature of reality, according to Quantum Science, will be to some people what they idea of a spherical earth to the “flat earthers”. People get burned at the stake for presenting ideas that go against entrenched laws. As we have found through time, just because it is widely believed, does not make it so. So how do you change your observations? Life will give you plenty of opportunities. Let’s use a test case, you have been standing in a queue for a while and someone pushes in front of you, how do you react? You see most people go through life reacting and they spend a lot of time justifying those reactions. What judgements would you bring to this situation? How would you judge the other person? Do you find yourself being “pushed in front of” a lot?
The problem with a reaction is that it deals with the content of a situation. Something happens to you and you attach meaning to it. “That person pushed in front of me and that means they are rude,” or “People always push in front of me and that means I am invisible”. All these meanings have to do with the content of the event, and you will find that you will be given a lot of opportunities to judge people as rude, or feel invisible. It will be an ongoing cycle; your reality will confirm your beliefs for as long as you hold them.
So what if you looked from a contextual position instead? What this basically means is that you look outside of the content for possible meanings for the event, and believe me there are more possibly meanings that you can come up with. “The person is from a culture that doesn’t queue,” “They didn’t notice the queue,” “This is an opportunity for me to meet a new person”, how about, “This is a delay designed to keep me on the perfect track,” or, “I needed to meet this person and I wouldn’t even have known about them if they hadn’t stepped in front of me.” Any one of those can shift your reality, and even in some significant ways. You see nothing is good or bad until you place judgement upon it, but how you judge will determine how reality unfolds for you.
Think for a moment about the last long trip you took, you were very certain about the destination, but how uncertain was the actual trip? There were, no doubt, some minor delays and other things you didn’t expect. Have you ever heard anyone remark on how they were delayed and then came across an accident and realised that if they had left on time it could have been them. You can see life as conspiring against you, or you can see life as working with you to get you where you want to go. Guess what, if you feel the life is conspiring against you then conspiracy is what you will experience, but, if you think life is helping you and guiding you on the best route through the uncertainty then you will experience benevolence.
Work with what comes up in life, if you need to change then change, if you need to move then move, if you experience delay of some sort then be thankful because you cannot see the potential dangers ahead. It is a moment by moment practice, and it takes awareness. The question for you is are you going to just react the way you always react, or are you going to take a moment and respond in a new way and break the cycle? Your dream life could really be just as far away as deciding to see life in a new way!