I am sitting here trying to finish a post about my finances, but my mind is some place else. I am thinking of how I have been in dealing with my emotions and expectations lately. Expectations is, by the way, a word that I would like to remove from my vocabulary.
So the post about finances will have to wait (along with the check to the IRS)
I have been taking baby steps in the right direction in dealing with my emotions and expectations. I have a long, long way to go, but these small improvements have me believing that I can get there. There being a place where I can freely love without a single expectation. Love for the sake of love alone!! There being a place that I know that what I feel is love for the other person, not lust, not wanting and needing to be touched only.
This has been a very hard post to write. It is hard for me admit that perhaps I shouldn’t completely and blindly listen to my heart.
I pride myself in being honest and telling it like it is. So the moment that I have feelings for someone, and for the sake of this post I am only talking about romantic relationships, I put it all out there. I never learned how to play the dating game. I never learned how to be coy, how to play hard to get, how to go slow. There are no mysteries with me, no guessing games. If I like someone I tell them. I bare myself and my soul.
… and then it is up to the other person to deal with me and my bluntness and all my expectations.
I will never say honesty is a problem, honesty to me is always the solution. But there is such a thing as too much too soon and it comes with a price. That price is rejection and pain, with perhaps the highest price being the never blossoming of a lasting love. There is also the issue of not knowing if my feelings are real or just an illusion of the love I want so bad in my life.
Problem 1: Recognizing feelings for what they are. Is it love or something else?
Baby step solution: Admitting I have a problem distinguishing my feelings. Admitting the possibility that not all my loving feelings are real love.
So until I learn how to tell my feelings apart (which I cannot begin to guess how to do that) I am going to deal with my impulsive actions in regards to those feelings. I have been speaking and acting with haste and without a conscious thought my entire life. It is not only okay, but wise, to slow down and wait to see if the feelings I am feeling will remain and grow or just go away. I can still be honest with myself and my feelings, but I just need to exercise a little caution. I should err on the side of slowness.
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh
Admitting I may have a problem happened with the help of, not only, pain and reflection, but also of a friend. He has been helping me to see that blindly following my heart and emotions may feel amazing in the beginning but it can lead to heartache. The irony is that he is my current object of affection, attention and constant daydreaming. While I have been trying to convince him to just act on impulse he has been trying to reign me in, trying to get me to slow down.
It is not easy for me to accept people’s help and guidance. It is not easy for me to admit that I cannot figure it all out alone. This friend has been a blessing. He has put up with tears and bad jokes. He has been standing his ground as I try to, time and time again, seduce him. In the past I would have moved on from him, but this time I want to stick around and see what the future holds. This time I am able to see the value in the friendship and not think of the romance alone. Perhaps I am stronger and wiser, perhaps I see in him the teachings I need. Perhaps I am ready to admit my shortcomings and make changes. Perhaps I see that his heart is in as much pain as mine. Perhaps I am just old and tired! 🙂
Problem # 2: Impulsiveness. Reacting on every feeling, real or not.
Baby step solution: Trying to sit with the feeling before reacting. Trying do engage my mind into the equation. Trying being the key word here.
My impulsiveness has caused me to just blurt out what my heart is thinking as soon as I think it. I say whatever comes to mind to anyone, at any time, in any circumstance. Some times people think I am funny, sometimes they think I am a breath of fresh air, but most times I am just too straightforward to some, too shocking. I jump in head first in a relationship just because it feels right. Just because my heart told me so.
There is no thought in my actions. There is impulse and reaction. There is really no time for anything else. So the key has been trying to slow things down enough to have my mind in the mix.
“Let the first impulse pass, wait for the second.” Baltasar Gracian
Text and e-mails were sent out of the blue just because. That modus operandi lead to disappointment and unnecessary grief many many times and lead to relationships ending before they started. I think I have scared men.
In the past an example of my pattern would go something like this: I hear my heart talking about some feeling for someone and if I felt reciprocated I would go in overdrive mode. I would sent texts and emails and not be shy about talking about my feelings. I would feel amazing about it… for about a second. Then reality would set in and I would be maniacally waiting for a reply that sometimes never came.
My impulsiveness is never alone, it is always accompanied by its sister expectations.
Problem #3: Controlling my expectations. Always expecting acceptance and love in return.
Baby step solution: Considering the consequences of each action and the potential result. Trying to understand my expectations and letting them go. Enjoying the feeling of an action without an expectation and building on that feeling.
When I didn’t get a response to my e-mails or text, or when the person somehow didn’t live up to my expectations, I would blame and admonish myself for my haste and I would blame the other person for giving me those feelings and then backing away. I never understood why wasn’t the person seeing the genuineness of my words and actions. Why wasn’t the person honored by my attention and affection?
In the past everything I did had expectations attached to them. Everything! No one could win with so much expected from them. It was like I was always setting the other person up to fail, and they eventually did.
In the last couple of weeks I have come up with and have put in a practice a 1 minute rule to deal with my e-mailing and texting. When I write a text or an e-mail I force myself to go away from it for 1 minute. In that minute I answer the following question: Will I be okay if I don’t get a reply, or if the reply is not positive? If my answer is yes then I hit send, if the answer is no or maybe than I save it and revisit it later or just go ahead and deleted it.
It has been amazing what this one little change has done. It has freed me. I continue to send emails and texts that are perhaps a little too forward, but they go off into the sunset on their own, with no expectations attached. I hit send and forget it. I no longer keep checking my phone looking for a reply. The truth is I still over share, but I no longer put any burden on the other person to reciprocate. Some times I get responses back and some times I get silences and I am okay with both because my goal has changed. The goal is to honor that feeling at that moment and not to get anything back.
Now, phone calls and in-person are another story. As far as those I am trying to speak slow and to actually hear the other person out. Slowing down seems to be the way to go for me in all senses.
“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.” ― Donald Miller
I have faith that I am going in the right direction. I know I am not betraying my heart, even though it feels a little like that, but I am helping my heart make informed decisions. Impulsiveness is me, but it doesn’t have to be the whole me, it doesn’t have to define me. Expectations is a fact of life for me but I can learn to co-exist with it in peace.
Lastly, I know I have used the word “change”, but I actually like the word “improving” better. I don’t want to change myself, I want to improve myself! God has made me this way for a reason and I don’t want to change me. He also gave me tools, sometimes in the form of people, to guide me and help me to grow. God has given me wisdom to see that I don’t have to cause myself unnecessary pain. He has opened my eyes to see that I am no alone.
my friend is a cookie in a cookie jar that is way beyond my reach. If I go up on the counter to try to reach it I may fall and hurt myself. But sometimes all I want is a cookie and nothing else will do! sometimes scraped knees don’t seem too bad! 🙂