None of us are perfect. We are all human making multiple mistakes daily. Yet we chide ourselves when not perfect. Why?
Is it because we don’t look like, can’t remember or do something like we used to? Working with older adults and watching loved ones age, I remind them it’s okay to let go of some of these youthful or perfect expectations. But do I? Often times, no.
This month I’m focusing on letting go on my other blog and also here. This week, let’s discuss letting go of perfect and/or unrealistic expectations.
A good analogy is playing golf. Jack Nicklaus recently described how he now plays from a more forward tee box when playing golf. Even one of the greatest golfers knows he cannot hit it as far as he once did. Yet many of us know other golfers still trying to play from where they did twenty years ago! I wonder how frustrated they become when they can’t golf the same as twenty years earlier?
Time and age change us and we aren’t perfect. So why do we get down on ourselves when we cannot perform as we once did or when our bodies and minds change over time? Please understand, I advocate for doing everything we can to live healthy by utilizing wellness and memory habits to assist us. That is the heart of MemoryMinders. But if we sometimes can’t remember a name or do something as well or as fast as we did twenty years ago, it can be okay.
I’m learning this too as I age. My 50-year body is not the same as my 20-year-old body. Yet sometimes, I expect it to look or function the same. That’s just plain unrealistic. But it’s how I feel. I’ve chided clients and loved ones for not using physical or mental assistive devices to help. They don’t want to use the walker, hearing aids or memory techniques. In their mind, they want to still function as they did years earlier. I understand as I do too, but I also try to help them be realistic.
Being realistic means understanding things are not the same as they once were and that can be okay. Yes, our bodies and minds may not function like they once did, but there are things, people, and programs to help.
Here are a few ways to shift our perspective off of perfect and unrealistic to healthy and accepting:
- Don’t think of what you can’t do, but what you can do to help with what you can’t. (Use assistive devices, utilize mental and physical programs, make lifestyle changes etc.)
- Use your strengths to help your weaknesses. (i.e.-if forgetful, learn techniques within your strengths to help and/or if physical issues arise, think about how can you either improve function or utilize assistance to help.)
- Shift your focus. Instead of lamenting our plight when things don’t go our way, learn from what’s occurred to avoid, prevent, or at least try to improve for the future.
- Be proactive. This is the most important point and the cornerstone of our mission here at MemoryMinders. We all know many of the things we should be doing for our mind and body wellness but often don’t execute on them for whatever reason. Stop that cycle now. Choose to do one thing, then another to help. Be realistic and keep steadily putting one foot in front of the other.
Last week on the blog, we discussed where we are on life’s climb. Whether it’s eating healthy, exercising mind and body or other lifestyle habits we can choose, it’s about offense instead of defense. It’s easier to consistently eat well and not gain 20 extra pounds than it is to try and lose them. It’s easier to keep our minds sharp now than try to regrow brain cells and relearn previously known things.
Let’s be honest and realistic. We aren’t perfect and we’re still climbing either uphill or downhill in life. Move forward in a proactive way by letting go of unrealistic and perfect and choosing to enjoy life in a healthy and accepting manner. This positive approach can literally change us, physically and mentally.
But only if we let go and choose well.