Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Battle for My Mind: What Prevents Us From Accepting Life on Life's Terms AKA Reality

If one does not recognize "wishful thinking," instead of facts, how will they have hope to overcome? One thing most of us learn with age/wisdom is that we have to let go of a lot of our expectations of others and even ourselves. I will reveal an example of my own in this post.

One of the first truths we should learn in life is that we cannot control, nor change others. Manipulation will never give us what we are truly seeking, because we know we had to use trickery or deceit to get what we wanted from the goodness of another.

Which types of things prevent us from accepting Life on Life's Terms AKA Reality?

  • Magical or wishful thinking. It usually begins with "If only." Such as, "If only I were skinny, then he would love me."  "If only she would stop whining so much, then we would be happy."
  • Comparison thinking. Looking at others or what they have and allowing ourselves to become envious. 
  • Not dealing with facts. This is when we deal in excuses or half-truths, or just block the truth from our minds and live in denial. 
  • Self-pity mode. Self-pity and martyrdom serve to only keep us from moving forward and dealing with reality. 
  • Rejecting God at His Word. This is when we refuse to trust God moment by moment.

My personal example: When my husband and I dated, he kept all important dates with reminders in his pager and on his computer. Nothing slipped by him. Then we got married. With marriage come many expectations.

Generalized expectations from husbands are that their wives are always going to look young and beautiful and will continue to put his interests before her own.  
Generalized expectations from wives are that he will continue to treat us the way he did when he courted us with the intention of winning our hearts.
Then reality hits us and we are like a a pair of crash dummies slamming into a wall.

The wife does not look exactly the same as she did the first day he set eyes on her and she actually has interests outside of him and often a family to care for too. She gets to see him every day, so she may no longer cares to participate in all his hobbies just to be near him. She had put her world on hold to hang out with him, now she can finally get back to some of her own interests.

On the other hand, the husband has changed too. He does not remember her birthdays, their anniversary, etc. He does not take her out on romantic dates. He doesn't want to enjoy stimulating conversation, then make-out, before getting what he really wants. He now feels he has a license to get what he wants anytime he wants it. 

And so comes the unhappiness as expectations go unmet. But this does not just happen in marriage. Truth be told we humans tend to do this with all relationships. Our mind selfishly predicts how it should go in our best interest. Then we expect those relationships to live up to our standard. They don't even know about our standard, because at the same time their selfish mind decided how it should go in their best interest. We fail to meet the expectations of one another and tension builds.

Author and motivational speaker, Stephen Covey, gave me a tool that really changed my perceptions: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. How novel to put the other person first. Scriptural teaching comes to mind that we are to love God first, then others as ourselves.

The greatest gift I have ever given my husband (even if he does not know it) was the day I put away my expectations of him to be the husband I expected him to be. That meant on birthdays and holidays, I expect nothing. I don't do this with a pathetic attitude either. I have come to accept he is not going to live up to that and all it will do is depress me and it also serves to incite envy in me of all the wives who brag about the flowers and gifts they received from their amazing husbands.

Instead, because "traditions" are important to the children and me, but not to him, I have taken over the creativity in that area of our home. I plot and plan all sorts of special things for him and our children. He enjoys some of it,  while some of it is not his thing. At first a part of me was still hoping it would trigger him to want to give back, but I realized he felt he already contributed first by going to work and providing for our family. So I let go of all expectations of him ever contributing his creativity to these things.

I let go of my huge expectation, that some day I would have a husband who loved me so much, he would see pretty flowers when he was driving, pull over and stop, and pick me a few and bring them home to me. You see, I thought that would be 100 times more romantic that just calling FTD to deliver flowers. But...it is not going to happen. That is why God blessed me with so many children. Ones who picked me flowers and found "cute rocks" to give me. :)  God inspired that creativity in the heart of my children.

Part of dealing with life on life's terms is identifying stumbling blocks and avoiding them. There are times that I avoid the Internet on Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, etc so I don't have to see all my friends sharing the special things their husbands did for them. They have every right to appreciate it publicly, but I don't want to become depressed and envious. I want to enjoy our life. And when I gave up expectations, I became very content.

Jesus knew how humans tend to get false expectations about relationships, even with Him and He had no interest in deluding them just so he could brag about how many followers (members) He got this month, nor how many baptisms. That is why He did not promise a "bless me" ticket to heaven relationship. Instead He told those who were following Him to deal with reality and count the cost first, as they would pick up their cross to follow Him. He told them the path would not be easy. He told them they would be persecuted, but He promised He would not forsake them as they go through it (never said they would avoid it by faith).

Boy, you don't hear that taught in many churches today when they give an altar call, do you? Perhaps if churches taught reality instead of fantasy, more people today would have a clue how to deal with truth/facts. Our entire culture has become saturated in wishful thinking from education, religion, politics...and all of this affects us. Why do we have so many people seeking to escape reality by various vices, whether it be abusing drugs (illegal or prescription), alcohol, shopping, gaming, social media, TV, etc? Because they are not taught how to deal/cope with reality, accepting life on life's terms. You cannot be truly content/happy, until you do.

Choose Life, Giulianna xoxoxox

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