Last month I wrote a guest blog post for the lovely Catherine Just! I just realized that I never shared it with my crew. So here it is:
Have you ever gotten a wakeup call?
Not the kind that you set up at a hotel to get you out of bed, but the kind where your soul is telling you that something needs to change?
Those types of wakeup calls give me mixed feelings. There’s some excitement, because it means I’m going to get closer to my authentic self. There’s doubt; how can I possibly make that change? There’s fear that I’ll screw it up or fail. I’m worried the change will be painful. I get confused, because I don’t know where to start. And sometimes there’s even disgust when I think, “Crap! I thought I already took care of that!”
I recently got a couple of wakeup calls. An acquaintance was complaining about a trip he was taking to see his son and grandchild, and it really ticked me off! As a life coach, I know complaining is a reaction to an emotional fear. It’s a shame that he’d be having so much fear around seeing his family.
But it still made me really angry that he was making this beautiful trip into such a horrible ordeal. Suck it up, and enjoy your kid! Get over yourself, and spoil your grandbaby!
Even in my irritation with him, I heard my soul telling me that this acquaintance was a reflection of me. I had a strong reaction, because he was mirroring my tendency to make beautiful things into horrible ordeals. But at that moment I didn’t care. I was basking in self-righteousness, so I ignored the message my soul was sending.
My next soul message came just three days later. We decided to get a puppy for my daughter, and he was flying in from Arizona. Instead of meeting this dog, we’d taken the breeder’s recommendation. She’d said this puppy was more laid-back than the others and would make a good family pet. She also warned that dogs who are flying will often have diarrhea or even vomit from motion sickness.
The morning that we’d pickup the puppy from the airport, my husband said, “You seem really tense.” I hadn’t even realized that I was stressed, but as soon as he said that I knew … my soul told me that I was doing the same thing that my acquaintance had done.
I wasn’t excited about meeting our new pup and watching my daughter’s doggie dreams come true. I was obsessing about opening the crate to find a puppy smeared with his own mess. I was worried that his temperament would be off. Maybe the breeder was lying. Maybe she was trying to get rid of the timid, fearful puppy in the litter, and we’d be stuck with a problem dog. Instead of enjoying the day, I was ruining the moment for myself and my family by having negative expectations.
We can justify negative expectations, saying that we’re being prepared. We can even say that when we’re ready for the worst case scenario, we won’t be so disappointed. As a matter of fact, we’ll be pleasantly surprised if things turn out better than expected! But the truth is that these negative expectations just make us a bunch of Debbie Downers.
Do you remember the Debbie Downer character from Saturday Night Live? Here’s a link if you want to check her out: Debbie Downer. In this skit the family is at Disney World — which should be a beautiful experience — but Debbie Downer is turning it into a horrible ordeal talking about skin cancer, anthrax and heat stroke.
What’s funny about this particular clip is that all the actors crack up at the ridiculousness of Debbie Downer’s worries and complaints. And that’s really what we need to do when our inner Debbie Downer starts ruining things for us. We shouldn’t take her seriously and let her ruin the moment. Wah-waaahh!
As I’ve said, I knew that I could have Debbie Downer-like thoughts. I worked big-time on expectations with my first life coach, but they still sneak up on every now and then. I’ve reduced lots of my negative expectations — which means I get to enjoy a lot more of those beautiful moments — but they’ll never go away completely. Expectations are a part of being me and a part of being human.
But my soul doesn’t need lowered expectations to protect it from being disappointed, because it’s never disappointed. It enjoys life instead of worrying. It knows that I can handle anything that comes my way. It gave me back-to-back wakeup calls so that I can have more joy and love. It wants to have fun, and it doesn’t want me to miss out.
My soul says, “Yes!” to all that life has to offer — even if that means pulling a messy puppy out of a messier crate. It craves the excitement of change, whether that change comes with success and excitement or with failure, fear and confusion.
It’s like buying shoes for a kid, where you always leave some room to grow. My soul always leaves my human side with some room to grow. And growth comes when I can jump at the chance for new experiences, trusting myself and having faith. I just need to keep answering those wakeup calls with a big “Yes!” while continuing to say “No!” to my Debbie Downer.