354: Letting Go of Heavy Expectations of Yourself // Sneak Peek from the Declutter your Motherhood Audio Course

 

Letting go of expectations can seem like an impossible ask. 

Especially letting go of expectations as moms! We want to do our best job! We want to be good moms! And yet, this so often leads to heavy, unrealistic expectations that leave us anxious, guilt-ridden, and completely exhausted. 

I will never forget the day that I was organizing one of my kitchen cupboards, and I had an epiphany about motherhood and letting go of expectations. 

A friend had come from out of town to help me do a three-day organizing bonanza on my home so I could clear out all of the clutter and get my home whipped into shape (as a sidenote, that’s an incredible friend!). As we started going through my kitchen cupboards, it was super hard for me to let go of a bunch of my cookbooks. This suprised me!

I am not a good cook; I don’t enjoy cooking, and yet I had a cupboard full of cookbooks that I never used. My logical brain told me that it was fine to donate most of those cookbooks, but my heart was saying, “No! Don’t donate the cookbooks! Someday, you will actually be a good mom and you will cook dinners for your family, and you’re going to need these cookbooks!” 

I vividly remember staring down at a cookbook with a yellow cover as my brain battled whether or not to let it go. That’s the moment that I realized that in order to declutter my physical spaces, I was going to need to declutter my mental spaces, where I was holding on to all sorts of ideas of what a “good mom” is and isn’t. I realized I needed to begin letting go of expectations that I had been holding over myself.

Could I let go of the idea that a good mom makes frequent homemade dinners for her family, or was I going to continue holding on to that ideal and judging myself for not meeting it? Could I accept the mom that I actually am, or was I going to continue to pine after the hypothetical mom that I thought I should be? 

If you’ve been listening to 3 in 30 for very long, you’ve probably heard me talk about the concept of “decluttering your motherhood” in the same way you’d declutter a physical space like a closet, and this moment with my cookbook is where this metaphor began to take shape for me. 

In the weeks after my big organization project, I sat down and outlined the steps that any mom could take if she wanted to start letting go of heavy “shoulds” that didn’t fit her so she could start living with more peace and intention. Those steps were very similar to those you would take if you decluttered a physical space like a closet: inventory what’s in the closet, edit what you want to keep vs. give away, and finally, make room in the closet for all the stuff you really love. You can follow the same process when you begin the process of letting go of expectations.

Today, I will share a sneak peek into one of the lessons I teach in the course so you can learn how you can begin letting go of expectations that you’ve decided don’t fit you. 

Are you ready to dive in? 

 

Lesson 7: How do you Delete Internal Clutter?

Getting ride of items in your physical closet is relatively easy. You can literally decide to get rid of something, put it in a trash bag, and walk it out to the curb. The hard part is deciding, but after that, the process of getting stuff out of your life is pretty straightforward.

This is not the case with your internal “shoulds” and the clutter in your motherhood closet. You may have decided to declutter and get rid of the guilt you feel for stepping back from certain church or community responsibilities. Okay, but now what? You can’t just pluck those feelings out of your heart and throw them in the trash, easy peasy.

When the clutter you want to delete is mental or emotional, it’s tricky to figure out how to get it out of your life, even when you know you really want to.  It can also be hard to declutter tasks from your schedule that impact other people and relationships. It sounds great in theory to say, “I’m not going to deep clean the house anymore, and I’m going to hire a cleaner.”

But depending on your partner’s comfort level with spending money and the dynamics in your relationship and roles, this might not be that simple. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, or you should ignore your desires to keep the peace. It just means that this kind of decluttering is going to require some ongoing and brave conversations with yourself and with the people you love.

So that’s what I want to focus on in this lesson: how to have those hard but important conversations. I certainly don’t have all the answers, and I don’t know all the specifics for your unique situation and life circumstances, but I’m going to give you some general ideas that have worked for me in my journey to declutter my motherhood.

And because I love threes, we are going to talk about three types of conversations that you can have as you let go of the stuff in your internal closet that no longer fits you.  First, conversations with yourself. Second, conversations with your stuff. And third, conversations with others.  

 

1. Letting Go of Expectations by Having Conversations with Yourself. 

The hardest person to convince when you want to let go of an expectation is often yourself. So that’s why we’re starting here.  As humans, most of us really struggle with allowing ourselves to be different than we thought we would be or think we should be. We come up with a million reasons why it’s not okay to accept ourselves as we are. 

I recommend doing a little personal reflection and self-coaching as you consider letting something go. Create a chart with three columns, and on the left, write: What is a belief about motherhood or myself that I want to examine? Then, in the middle column, ask yourself: Where did this belief come from in my past or social pressures? And then in the right column, ask yourself: What is a new belief that feels more aligned with my inner compass?

As you go through this process, you will be, in a way, having a conversation with yourself – reassuring yourself that it’s okay to make a change.

2. Letting Go of Expectations by Having Conversations with Your Stuff. 

Just as Marie Kondo teaches us to thank our physical possessions for their service before donating them, we can thank our old expectations for ourselves before we move on to a new and different belief about ourselves or motherhood. 

I actually love this step in the Marie Kondo method because it reminds me that even if you’ve outgrown something or don’t love it anymore, there’s no need to chuck it in the trash bin with disgust. Let’s  honor what was and what has been while also deciding to move forward without that item cluttering up our closets or our lives anymore. 

We don’t have to trash our past, our parents, or our younger selves for the ways they passed along expectations that ultimately didn’t fit us or make us happy.

Instead, we can respectfully acknowledge the ways that those “shoulds” served us for a season, were part of our journey, or protected us in some way, say thank you for your service, and then peacefully lay them to rest

3. Letting Go of Expectations by Having Conversations with Other People. 

The third type of conversation you probably need to have as you declutter your motherhood is a conversation with other people, particularly those people who will be impacted by the choices and the changes that you’re making in your life. I purposely saved this for last because these conversations take confidence and clarity, and it’s much harder to stand firm in what you’ve decided if you haven’t really convinced yourself first that your new approach is okay.

Once you’ve done that important internal work, you’ll be more able to lovingly but resolutely talk to your family and friends about the changes you’re making in your life. I want to say upfront that I know family dynamics can be tricky and messy and that everyone brings their own inner closets and personal histories into their relationships.

This only works in safe relationships, where you know that the other person truly wants what’s best for you. I hope you have that, and if you do, start this conversation by expressing how you’ve been feeling, what you’ve been sorting out internally, and why you feel like you need a change. Wait for a time when you’re both rested and feeling connected and then open your heart to that loved one.

 

My friend, even though these types of brave conversations about the things that we want to declutter from our closets can be scary, I promise you, they are absolutely so worth having

 

If you want to listen to the full episode, head to your favorite podcast platform!

 

>>>Are these tips from Rachel on letting go of expectations helpful? Have you found ways to declutter the “shoulds” in your life? Share with us in the comments below! 

 

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