When I think of family, two things come to mind: love and dysfunction. And the two seem to go hand in hand. Where there is love, there is closeness. And where there is intimacy there is dysfunction.
Family is expected to appreciate, cherish, and celebrate us more than anyone else. And as we all know too well, the higher the expectations, the greater the possibility of disappointment.
Whether it’s the holiday season, an anniversary, or a birthday among the so many occasions we share with our families, there comes a time of unmet expectations and disappointment—a forgotten anniversary, a not so thoughtful gift (or no gift at all), or not even a simple thank you for the hours spent on that special dinner.
One disappointment after another and we’re resenting the people we love the most.
This time of the year can be a great opportunity for love, growth, and renewal. I invite you to try the following with me. My hope is to experience the holidays (or any other occasion) with more joy and openness, and less disappointment.
Can we share a life with our family without expectations?
Having no expectations is okay in theory, but dealing with the reality of the moment, as it unfolds, is another matter.
We want to feel safe, respected and appreciated. We crave a deeper connection with loved ones and it seems the holidays amplify such wants.
Wants come bearing expectations of one form of happiness or another. I’m not sure if any of us can live completely without wants and expectations.
What we can try to do is learn to be okay whether we get what we want or not. In other words, we let go of disappointment.
What would happen if we didn’t care about getting what we want?
Whether we have expectations or not, or whether our expectations are met or not, we will feel okay. That would be a nice feeling to have, especially during the holidays.