Breaking the Chains

Author: Karen Copeland

It’s summer time and you know what that means. Holidays, disrupted routines, travel, visiting…for a family that thrives on the same old-same old, summer can be a very interesting time indeed.

IMG_20160629_081851Our social media feeds are filled with images of our friends and their families enjoying a multitude of activities – camping, stay-cations, cross country trips, etc. To be honest, I live a bit vicariously through those posts; I enjoy seeing the smiling faces and landscapes and thankfully, I am wise enough to know that these are simply snapshots of moments in time. Heck, I’ve even posted a few of my own snapshots, sharing some of our summer with my connections.

But as with last summer, my mind keeps getting drawn back to the topic of expectations and how these can keep us locked in, stuck, immovable. I entered this summer with what I thought were reasonable expectations of what we would be able to accomplish and once again I have found myself to be oh so wrong. Lulled into complacency by the fact things were going so well, I forgot to listen. I forged ahead with plans for our family only to discover that perhaps I was *ahem* a bit over-eager.

This has created a great deal of turmoil over the last week and a bit. I felt torn into pieces. I became focused on what everyone else expected (or I assumed they would expect) that I forgot to focus on what mattered. I forgot to listen.

I realized that sometimes our fear of judgement clouds our decision making process. Often the decisions we have to make are incredibly difficult, and we know that many of these are ones that others are unlikely to understand. If we allow ourselves to get caught up in thinking “what will [name] think if I make this decision?” we are keeping ourselves stuck. We convince ourselves that if we choose to make a particular decision we are being “selfish” [or maybe you don’t, but I sure do!].

empty cup
Image via TobyMac Facebook page

Thank goodness for re-frames and reality checks, that’s all I can say. I reached out earlier this week to a trusted provider and shared my concerns and fears. I was encouraged to consider what an ideal summer vacation would look like for everyone in our family. And when I really started to think about this and then listen to the answers when I asked the question, the decision became so much easier.

When we are overwhelmed it is so hard to consider ‘flipping the script’, we think if we just continue to forge forward, to assert control everything will fall into place. But it won’t. It will only lock us in.

So, with some great phenomenal support, I am changing my narrative. I am breaking the chains.

I am not a failure because of my decision. I am not ruining summer because our plans have changed. I am not selfish for needing self care. I am a good parent because I am being responsive to what my child needs. I will be grateful and celebrate that I have people around me who also believe this. Pssst…Yes, I mean you, Mom!

It may not be the summer we expected, but it will be a summer that works for all of us. And that my friends, is all that really matters.

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