I’ve noticed how a very simple thing can have a very calming affect on the mind. I’m going to title this kind of mind intervention a “normal expectation”. The latest example for me is related to my new puppy. I read a majority of Cesar Millan’s book on How to Raise the Perfect Puppy before I started my latest puppy raising experiment. One thing he said in the book (and this is not a direct quote – rather it went something like this), “All puppies will cry when they are in their crate. It’s natural for them not to like being separated from their pack”. Previously, when I came in from work or when I crated my dog for bed and he/she cried, I would feel my anxiety raise as if somehow on some fundamental level of life I was doing something abusive to my dog. Intellectually I knew crating is the best thing you can do for your puppy to help them learn boundaries and limits (and not destroy the house) yet when I heard the cry, up went my stress level. Yet after reading this part of the book, each time my dog began to cry I have noticed the weirdest, wildest thing – I don’t get anxious.
We don’t always have normal expectations for ourselves. In fact, I’m willing to bet we rarely do. We expect ourselves to accomplish unthinkable things yet with little support, without the right tools, and in very little time. We think we should just know what to do. If we made “normal expectations” a part of our toolbox it could help our stress level. Random examples:
- For parents of pre-teens go ahead and research “normal behaviors for 12-year-olds”.
- For new mothers, research “normal feelings for new mothers”.
- For people going through a trauma, research what is normal as far as feelings of loss of trust, panic, confusion and paranoia. I’ve heard many people who’ve just gone through a trauma say, “I was driving around and couldn’t figure out where I was even though I’d been there a million times”. If you didn’t know this was a normal trauma response, it would be scary indeed.
- For those going through relationship difficulties, find others who are going through the same and see how you are similar. It is so validating when you realize that in accordance with what you’ve just experienced, you are perfectly right on track in your own healing process even when you are sad, not knowing what to do and having a hard time dealing with life.
- For new business owners, what are the normal fears and things you need to learn but haven’t yet?
- For those starting a new job, remember no one knows things until they learn them. Have you ever expected yourself to know how to do your job before you do?
- If you decide to go back to college, or start an exercise plan or begin any kind of new project, what are the common fears and questions?
- If you feel like doing absolutely nothing and have no motivation, then maybe you could research that – maybe you’ve needed to go into yourself and just relax for awhile. We all need that downtime. Many of the mystics, writers, and geniuses we know of often had periods where they couldn’t even function. They may have even had to move in with relatives. While they were there resting, they blossomed.
- For people caring for someone who is aging, or who has a mental illness, research what is normal for them to feel and what is normal for you to feel.
- If you have trouble keeping up with housekeeping, check out www.flylady.net for tools. Guess what! You are normal.
One of my teachers always says over and over and over (I often wondered why he repeated it so much), “Be gentle with yourself”. I think that’s about having normal expectations. This world is hard and I definitely subscribe to the idea that it would have been best lived looking backwards. But that’s never worked out for me. Ha ha. I mean, I would’ve been a genius, not made any mistakes at all and I would’ve done it stress-free.