This week I found myself shopping for a few additional Christmas decorations to add to my collection. As I was browsing the aisles of Home Goods, I picked up a tree-topper, stocking hooks and a few new ornaments. This should have been the end of this blog post – walk up to checkout, pay and leave – THE END. But amidst the scented candles, sparkly ornaments and snowmen figurines, I was transported into a story, created by yours truly. As I put the stocking hooks into my cart it was as if the background faded and all of a sudden there I was in my living room. My fireplace (which I’ve NEVER used!) was roaring and crackling. The smell that filled the warm air was that of pine needles from my tree and hot cocoa. I saw myself hanging up four stockings, one for myself, another one for Pablo my dog, and then a third for my mom (who actually is coming up this year for Christmas). But there was a fourth – this stocking was for the guy I am seeing (if you can call it that) but whom I’m falling hard for. It all seemed so perfect; I LOVE this scenario that I am dreaming up. I like it so much that when I finally do snap back into reality and realize it is only October, I am in Home Goods and I am single, I feel a wave of anxiety rush over me. It starts building in the pit of my stomach, that churning feeling. I’ve made myself believe that the story in my head is the way things should be. Christmas must turn out that way or I’ll be disappointed – maybe even devastated!
So we all have stories – mine tend to be more of the “It’s a Wonderful Life”/ hopeless romantic genre. Yours may be dreaming up the perfect job with a corner office and a plentiful paycheck, or seeing yourself on the beach in that bikini body you always wanted. But whatever the story, it is just that – a story. Don’t get me wrong, some daydreaming and visualization is absolutely harmless, and at times even healthy. But it is dangerous when we start to convince ourselves that this is the way things should be, and if the situation doesn’t look like our story we are failing, our life is less than enough, things are not okay. When the story sets these expectations we are conveying the message to ourselves that the present moment is not enough, we are NOT enough.
The next time you begin that, “Once upon a time….”, see if you can quiet the mind down. Take a deep breath and ground, feel your feet on the earth and check in with where you are physically. Then repeat silently to yourself – this is it, the here and now, and it is sweet and exciting to find out how it will unfold without any expectations. The story will happen on its own, our job is to stop writing it in the mind and let it happen in the moment, in real life.