Lisa, my business strategy coach, saw a picture of my office’s reading corner posted on my Facebook page and asked about it. She learned about Joy, the fabric Phoenix sculpture, my Bo Eason football, and “the little man”.
“The little man” was a soft sculpture of my dad, done by one of his friends for his 60th birthday. It’s the perfect representation of him: a map for an oil well project held in his arms, his cardigan sweater and slacks, his loafer shoes, and the wire-framed glasses worn on his forehead when he wasn’t needing them to see up close.
As she asked questions, one particular story came out that I realized was really about overcoming the fear of traditions and living your own satisfying life in the process. How married are you to rules and traditions? How do you make your reality match your expectations — or the other way around?
Maybe it’s time to be a rule breaker. How do you react when your expectations don’t match reality? Like, when your expectations of Christmas don’t reflect the reality of your Christmases, or birthday celebrations don’t live up to your dreams, or that favorite recipe doesn’t taste like your memory suggests it should — or relationships don’t follow the script your mind has for them? You can’t always easily change reality. How do you reconcile those expectations and realities?
Are you willing to break tradition to make your expectations and realities fit together, or do you have a fear of changing tradition? If you are afraid of changing tradition or thinking outside the box, your options are limited. Then you have to live with the mismatch and the probable stress that causes.
Back to My Parents
But, if you are willing to break with tradition so you can reconcile those differences then you are able to make your world a more satisfying, peaceful, and happy existence. I know. I broke tradition and loved the results.
As I moved into adulthood I felt the relationship with my parents strained. They didn’t behave like I thought parents should, at least toward me. I was often upset or disappointed by social interactions with them. Going through life like that just didn’t agree with me. My parents were more like good friends than parents.
Aha! I call my friends by their first names. Why not call my parents by their first names? So, I did! Mom and Dad became Anne and Paul. My siblings and then-husband were horrified that I’d call my parents by their first names. That’s just not how it’s done! My parents didn’t mind. Why should anyone else? I loved the more honest connection with them. My level of contentment with our time together rose, making us all happier.
The fun and endearing twist came when I started emailing them. Mom, aka Anne, had been called Annie as a kid. So, I started referring to her as AnnE. Dad, aka Paul, whose middle initial was E, became PaulE. By extension, I started referring to myself in those emails as KitE. Dad often called me Kitty, so it worked well. I loved making PaulE chuckle, and my signature of KitE resulted in that amused chuckle of his. Score!
It’s my M.O. to push the envelope and break, or at least greatly bend, rules to fit my personality and needs. Push that envelope to see how far I can get in creating a more satisfying reality for me. This renaming of my relationship with my parents is just one example. Breaking rules and breaking tradition work well when they create a life that works for me, that lets situations and relationships sing. It rarely backfires on me to create my own world, a world that meshes with the outside world. I bet that would be true for you, too.
Now, To You
So, I ask you again: are you willing to break tradition — or at least rules and boundaries — to create a loving, peaceful, and effective world for yourself? Do you have that courage? Can you overcome that fear of rules and tradition so that you are happier?
When you do, that’ll be one great step in moving from fear into action, action that gives you freedom.