Key To Successful Relationships: Being Present and Letting Go

May 22, 2012 by  
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Yesterday, I had a long talk with a close friend of mine.  He is in his 50s and his life is in disarray.  He lost his job a couple of months ago and hasn’t been able to figure out what to do next.  So, he decided to stay in the not knowing.    He told me he has spent his entire life chasing after things and being a go-getter.  Maybe this is the time to release and let life take the course that it needs.

Now, my friend doesn’t have a lot of financial pressure.  Not because he is well off, but because his daughter is grown up and he is now single.

I don’t know if what he is doing is wise or not, but he got me thinking about the concept of releasing control.

I have never blinked at charging ahead or inventing and then re-inventing myself.  But, what would it be like to sometimes step aside, breathe, and let life unfold? As I think about the question, I realize the answer lies in being present and letting go of expectations.  A wise attitude for a relationship.

So often, as we embark in a journey with someone else, we want to know for sure where it will lead us.  Is this a relationship that will have a “happily ever after” stamp on? Or is this a relationship that will end? Or even, is this a relationship that will end in disappointment?  Questions like; is this worth my time and effort quickly follow.

The truth is; nobody knows.  Being in a relationship means living in the moment and letting go of expectations.  Simply because relationships are always evolving because the two people involved are constantly changing.

A successful connection is based on the ability of the two people to live in the web and flow of their interactions.  So, rather than ask questions like “where this will go?” one should ask “am I happy now?”  As long as the answer is yes, then this is a relationship worth staying in.

While I don’t know about my friend’s current posture, I do know when it comes to relationships, letting life take its course is the only wise attitude. And if we are to be successful, we must learn to be present and let go of expectations.


Let Go Of Expectations

May 4, 2012 by  
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“I mean, like most guys, you carry around this girl in your head, who is exactly who you want her to be. The person you think you will love the most. And every girl you are with gets measured against this girl in your head.”  ― Rachel Cohn, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares

And because of that, you can never be happy. And you can never see the possibilities with all the girls you’ve been with.  That’s called expectation.

Expectation: The act of conducting oneself according to an imagined result.

When we imagine how things are going to turn out we start behaving in a certain way instead of responding to what is actually taking place. When we do that the discrepancy between our imagined outcome and our reality creates a fair amount of anxiety, frustration and ultimately disappointment.

It is difficult for us not to have expectations, especially from people or circumstances that are meaningful to us.  The reason is fairly simple; our imagination takes us where we want to go not where we are.

One of the negative side effects of expectations is the rigidity that it creates.  Once we imagine an outcome we become married to it. We lose our ability to see and feel situations as they are.

If we could push our expectations aside and live situations and relationships for what they are, we would certainly find a greater deal of satisfaction.

Holding on to created ideas stops us from finding the positive in our current situations.  Somehow we don’t see what it is.  We only see what it isn’t.

The only way I know to let go of expectations, is by living in the moment and seeing situations and people as they are while releasing what they are not.  By living in the moment – and letting day dreams pass us by – we give ourselves permission to embrace what it is thus enjoying the present.





Life Tools

December 23, 2011 by  
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One only needs two tools in life: WD-40 to make things go, and duct tape to make them stop – G. Weilacher

1 – Learn to let go

Living in the moment requires releasing control of any outcome.  We are here in this moment and in this situation.  Where the future goes it’s not so important.  Where we are is.

2 – Keep your expectations in check

Having expectations on how things should be often robs us from actually appreciating things as they are.

We often have specific expectations and anything even a hair below the mark, to the right or to the left, keep us from enjoying the experience.

3 – Silence your inner judgment

Harsh self-criticism chains us down and keeps us from feeling light and free.  Life has many difficulties and obstacles and adding our inner chatter accomplishes nothing.  Psychology refers to this type of self-criticism as neurosis.  We don’t need it.

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Expectation; Often A Tough Pill To Swallow

March 22, 2011 by  
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Expectations.  Even the word has too many letters.

We wish for “things”, and in the time between dreaming about them and having them happen, we let our emotions make those “things” become the answer to all our ailments.  So unfortunately when those “things” finally happen – or some form of it– our expectations are too out of touch with reality. Let me give you an example:  A woman wishes for a relationship.  While she waits for a man to come into her life she day-dreams about how this man will sweep her off her feet and she will live happily ever after.  The woman meets a man.  Now she has dreamed all kinds of scenarios with her man, and when the reality doesn’t follow along with her dreamed up situations; she feels let down.  Another example would be a man dreaming all the things he will do and all the things he will feel when he gets his dream job.  But, when he finally gets the job he had been pining away, he feels let down.  The reality does not correspond to his expectations.

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Freeing Ourselves From Labels

December 20, 2010 by  
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Humans are obsessed with labels.  I’m not talking about designer labels.  I’m talking about labels we give each other such as: “she’s a very kind person”, “he always does the right thing” or “she’s selfish”.  I think the reason we label one another is to quickly process and identify who others are to us and who we are to them.  But that is a very superficial way to know each other.  We are not labels on a bottle.  We are complex and complicated.

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Why Are People So Crazy And What Can We Do About It?

June 29, 2010 by  
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How many times a day do we say or think: “People are crazy?”  That’s because we feel it is hard to navigate through their expectations and/or agendas.  We often don’t know what is motivating them and so we are startled by their reaction.

We all have our fears, hang-ups, and hidden motivators.  If we are the kind of people that invest in our personal development we tend to catch ourselves when acting from fear but a great number of us are disconnected from their truth and go through life acting out whatever drama is playing in their heads.

How do we deal with that?

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Love And Relationships

May 23, 2010 by  
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heart on the beach

heart on the beach

I had dinner with my sister in law last night and we talked about relationships.  She said she’s been watching a number of documentaries and the question that was being discussed in them was, are humans really meant to be monogamous.

I told her I didn’t know the answer to that but what I did know is that in relationships you are always making choices and decisions.

I talked about Chris.  When I got together with him I knew we would be together until one of us died.  I didn’t know it was going to happen so fast. Both Chris and I had had enough relationships to know we had something special.  Does that mean in the years we were together he didn’t feel attracted to another woman?

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How To Give Yourself To Whatever The Moment Brings, And Forget Stress

May 18, 2010 by  
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Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on Twitter.

The prevailing way of living in our Western societies is to plan out our lives, both for the long term and on a day-to-day basis.

We have planners and digital calendars that map out our lives, sometimes to the minute. We feel we’re in control, with plans like this.

But it’s an illusion, as I’ve said before.

We cannot control our lives to this degree, no matter how we try. Things will always come up to spoil the best-laid plans, and the more detailed our plans the more of a guarantee that something will go wrong.

And what happens when the plans go wrong? We are stressed out, because things get out of our control and don’t live up to our expectations. This is one of the greatest sources of stress for most people, actually.

Think about how often your days actually go according to plan, exactly — it’s pretty rare, because we have no way of predicting the future. No matter how hard we try. There’s always an email that will disrupt things, a last-minute meeting, cancellations and postponements, emergencies and fires to put out.

So if plans will almost always go wrong, and when they do we get stressed out, isn’t all the time we spend creating the plans a bit of a waste?

But what’s the alternative? Giving yourself to the moment. This will not work for everyone, I’ll admit: there are those who will have a hard time giving up the illusion of control, and others who are controlled by their bosses or peers and cannot work or live this way.

Still, it’s something worth considering. Here’s how to do it — starting with the don’ts:

  1. Don’t plan. Planning is an attempt to control the world around us, but it’s a futile attempt. Throw out your plans, for now at least until you’ve decided this method isn’t for you. What do you do instead? More on this below. For now, just stop planning.
  2. Don’t worry about the future. Will something bad happen? Are there things coming up that we must anticipate and prepare for? Of course, if there’s a massive hurricane headed your way, you should probably get ready. But otherwise, just realize that the future is unpredictable, and worrying about it is a waste of time. Focus on right now, and you’ll always be able to handle what comes.
  3. Don’t have expectations. If you expect people to act a certain way, or hope that things will turn out a certain way, you’ll always run into problems. Forget about outcomes for now. Go into things without expectations, and they will always turn out perfectly (if a bit messy).
  4. Don’t get annoyed when others act a certain way. Don’t expect people to act any way other than how they actually act. They are exactly the way they should be — even if that’s selfish or weird or aggressive. Those are their problems. Your problem is figuring out how you should act. I’d also advise you to try to understand others — why do they act the way they do?
  5. Don’t overreact. This is a major problem when people plan and things go wrong — they overreact, and get upset and emotional and blow things out of proportion. Stay calm, because if things “go wrong”, they didn’t actually go wrong — they just happened. More on how to react below.
  6. Don’t try to be proactive. This is a common prescription (being proactive) in management and business literature. And while I think the general idea is fine — do something to prevent problems from recurring rather than just fixing them after they happen — one of the problems this creates is always worrying about what might happen. And creating solutions before there are problems — if there never is a problem, you’ve wasted a lot of time creating the solution, and a lot of energy worrying about the future.

And now for the dos:

  1. Do be open. What would it be like to go into each day without a plan, but just to see what happens? A bit scary, because of the lack of security and control, a bit chaotic perhaps, a bit like we’re a piece of driftwood floating in the middle of a churning sea. But in truth, this is what it’s like to go into each day *with* a plan — it’s just that we normally fool ourselves about the amount of control we have. So start the day with no plan, and be open to what emerges in each moment.
  2. Do what you love. So what should you do, now that you have no plan? Do what you’re passionate about, do what excites you right now. Create something amazing. Pour yourself energetically into a project. Build something new. And what you think you’re creating might turn out to be completely different from what emerges, but you’ll have fun doing it and something even better might be revealed.
  3. Do act, in the moment. Giving yourself to the moment doesn’t mean being passive and just letting life happen. It means acting, but doing what is best at this moment, what you are excited about right now, what needs to be done, in the present.
  4. Do respond appropriately. Life happens, and we must respond. But instead of overreacting, we can respond calmly and appropriately. We can take the action that’s required, fix the problem, do what’s necessary to prevent it from happening again, and move on without it ruining our day.
  5. Do accept. Accept what happens. It might not be what you considered ideal, but it’s what life has given you, what has resulted from your actions in an unpredicatable world. Accept it, respond, act, move on. Don’t get caught up in things not going your way, but accept that’s what has happened.

Again, this way of living won’t be for everybody. Some don’t have the freedom to live this way, and others just won’t give up control. Some will think this is a passive way of living, but it really isn’t: it’s just a way of living in the moment without being caught up in the future (or the past) so much.

And when we live in the moment, we’re really living life to the fullest. This is the gift of the present.

Thoughts? Please share them with me on Twitter.


Allowing Ourselves To Live Different Types Of Relationships

May 17, 2010 by  
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There are many kinds of relationships.  We just need to be open to enjoy them for what they are.  It sounds like a pretty obvious statement but the truth is people are complicated and we often have expectations.

But expectations keep us from living and enjoying certain relationships, because we want them to be something else than what they are.  If we can learn to live in the present and enjoy people and our connections as they happen and as they are, we would have more fun in our lives.

Sometimes relationships are just intellectual.  And that is just what they are. But we can have wonderful conversations if we don’t keep hoping and expecting them to be something else.

Sometimes relationships are just sexual.  And that is great.  Feeling sexual and sharing it with someone else can be a good experience if we don’t get frustrated and angry hoping it can be different.

And sometimes we have those relationships where most everything falls into place.  And it is heaven.

In every situation we have to ask ourselves: can I deal with this?  Am I okay if that is all I get from this experience.  Once we can answer yes, then that the key becomes not to force the relationship to be everything to us.

Sometimes connections are in our paths to fulfill some want or desire we are feeling.  Taking things for what they are and letting them run their course is a mature and smart way to live life.


Just One Day Without Expectations

April 30, 2010 by  
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When my husband passed away I felt myself withdrawn from normal everyday conversations. My life felt like anything but normal. His last year on this earth had been filled with doctors and hospitals. Our world had been switched to living on hospital time. Time stood still. My entire focus had been taking care of my husband, anticipating his every need. It was like living in a bubble with one topic of conversation; mortality.

Accepting that no matter how much you try to live a healthy lifestyle, it may not be enough. Accepting that some chapters in our life end no matter how much we fight to keep them open. Paralyzing fear challenges our faith. Confidence can get replaced by insecurity.

To search for meaning while fighting the emotions that you don’t fit in anymore are mentally and physically exhausting. Continually faced with new situations, where and how do we find the courage to stand strong? It seems that one minute we are full of confidence. Then in the blink of an eye, insecurity overcomes your person. Thoughts go flat line. Words escape you. Why?

As an educator and mentor I advocate being kind to yourself. To self reflect asking “Did you do the best you could?” when goals fall short. That’s truly all we can ask of ourselves. A basic principle. Why am I having such difficulty in applying that to me?

Can you make it through a day without expectations of the day, of people, of yourself, of life? twitter @ zen_habits (Leo Babauta)


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