August is here and summer is ending, as seen by the resurgence of "back-to-school" commercials.
I grew up in Ohio where summer was a welcome reprieve from the cold. When we moved to Florida during the height of June, I experienced serious culture shock. I quickly discovered that native Floridians remain indoors during summer and enjoy the outdoors during the rest of the year.
Our first summer here I worried that the heat and humidity would defeat me. I had to seriously adjust my expectations about Florida living to relearn how to enjoy "summer."
Anxiety and depression often share a common source: unmet expectations. Whenever reality lives up to our expectations, we tend to feel satisfied. When reality disappoints us, we experience dissatisfaction, often presenting as anxiety or depression.
Some people may go into worry mode, trying to prevent this disappointment in the future, plagued with anxiety. Others may become overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness and helplessness about reality, abolishing the will to have expectations. These extremes paralyze people and strangle the potential for joy.
So, do I change my expectations or my reality?
Are my expectations realistic?
Do I have control over whether my expectations are met?
If not, what do I have control over?
Did I clearly communicate my expectations to those who do have control of this situation?
If I did, what part(s) of my expectations were unmet and why not?
What about my lifestyle (i.e., people, places, things) block my expectations?
How can I set up my lifestyle to meet my expectations?
What aspects of my lifestyle are in my control?
For the aspects out of my control, how can I adjust my reactions to them?
Alcoholics Anonymous emphasizes the "Serenity Prayer" for good reason. Some things cannot be changed and we are challenged to find a way to accept them. Some things we can change and need courage to make necessary changes. But before we can do any accepting or changing, we need to realize what we can and cannot control.
I cannot control the weather in Florida, which I accept and even enjoy (sometimes). I can control how I respond to the weather and need courage to open my electric bill each month. But knowing this difference, helps me to pay that electric bill without the same level of stress and frustration I had when I expected it to be the same as what we paid in Ohio.
Need help in this area? We are happy to listen and help you identify strategies that will work for you. No judgment, just support.