Letting Go of How Life Should Be
If you’re like me, chances are you have an idea of how you think your life should be, and it might look something like this: Great marriage. Happy, vibrant, brilliant children who love me and each other and life. Gorgeous home. Fulfilling, lucrative career. In other words, a general sense of ‘I got this,’ contentment, fulfillment.
So when I don’t feel that general sense of ‘I got this,’ contentment, and fulfillment, that must mean that either a) something is wrong with me, or b) something is wrong with my life.
The Socialization of Living – We are inherently social beings — we need other human beings in order to survive physically, emotionally, and energetically. As long as humans have formed societies, there have been tensions between our individual identification and our group identification. Do we answer to ourselves or do we answer to the group? One of the byproducts of living in society is that we tend to do what other people do or what we think other people are doing. That’s the key, isn’t it? We do what we think other people are doing for fear of being judged? Years of internalizing the behavior of those around us created these unconscious stories of how we SHOULD be living. When that model doesn’t feel good to us, we question ourselves rather than questioning the model.
Have you become over-socialized to a particular way of living?
Is your tendency to question yourself or to question the social practice?
These models of living range from as small as doing homework every night to as large as our definition of success. Here’s an example to make this real for you: I’ve been struggling with my middle son’s kindergarten homework requirements. At first, it didn’t seem like a big deal because this is my second go around with kindergarten. But after sitting with it for a while, I realized I needed to change the way I was relating to it and do what worked best for my child and for our family. We have him at a very academic school, and until recently he had up to 30 minutes of homework a day. He’s five. I could tell that it was too much for him, and it was causing him to feel frustrated and chipping away at his confidence. At first a part of me didn’t want to admit it because he’s at such a “smart” school. Isn’t this what he “should” doing? Once I realized that this amount of homework wasn’t normal, I started feeling guilty for not listening to him, reading the signs and helping him navigate the system the quicker. It wasn’t until two weeks ago that I got the courage to break the mold and work with his teacher to adjust his workload, so that he could feel more energized and inspired by his homework.
My intention with this story is to encourage you to look within. What’s one social norm, model, or practice that you think you might be ready to break out of?
For me, on the other side of taking action was a sense of freedom: a massive relief and standing in my truth. My son and I both feel like we can breathe. My son has room to be inspired, energized, and confident in a way that works for him. There’s no price tag for bearing witness to that.
While it’s easy to cling to how you think life should be and how you think you should show up in it, consider the alternative. It might feel scary, but, oh my goodness, is it refreshing.