Most of us are familiar with these motivational slogans meant to inspire us to achieve our full potential and give us the courage to try new things. They are generally accepted as being helpful, but there is a downside to completely buying into these concepts.
When I was a little girl I wanted a horse more than anything in the world. That was at the top of every Christmas and birthday wish list, until my focus shifted from horses to boys.
I was the sort of child who believed anything was possible, so I was inevitably disappointed on Christmas mornings when there was no saddle under the tree or pony tied in the yard. My high expectations became a cloud shadowing those special days.
As I grew, I took it to heart when my parents and teachers told me I could do and be anything I wanted, if I was only willing to try hard enough. To me, this meant anything I tried to do and failed at was my fault for not having given it enough effort. This led to guilt feelings and kept me from trying many new things.
As an adult I stayed in unhealthy relationships way too long, trying to get the outcomes I expected, when it was obvious this was impossible. The situations were completely beyond the control of my efforts, desires or expectations.
When I began publishing my novels, I consciously tried to lower my expectations and was thrilled and grateful for any kind review and each book sale. Still, deep inside was that little girl with “best seller” at the top of her Christmas list, disappointed with the lesser substitutes I was achieving.
At this time of year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is good to cultivate an attitude of gratitude and lower those sky-high expectations.
We can continue to stretch ourselves and try new things, hopeful of success, but we mustn’t let ourselves succumb to childish disappointment when the successes aren’t as spectacular as we wish.
When we expect something wonderful, we can be resentful or depressed at receiving something good, instead. Sometimes that good can be even better in the long run, than the wonderful we were looking for.
Finally, I have reached the stage in my life where I am trying to cherish all the good God brings me and leave the wonderful in His hands and His timing.