Letting Go of Expectations

By Brigitte Shipman | June 25, 2021. | Autism, Mother Guide, Letting Go, Life Lessons

The stories of my son Joseph giving profound insight to me are my favorite to tell. He reminds me that my struggles are my own. I have life lessons to learn on my life journey just as he does. 

There is nothing like Joseph’s one-liners to make me think and ponder the truth that he speaks to me. When I asked him what he thought my biggest life lesson was, he instantly had the answer. Apparently, he has observed more about me than I have ever given him credit for on our journey together. He said, “You need to learn how to let go.” 

I instantly knew that was absolutely true without a doubt. Yes, I did need to learn how to let things go. Joseph introduced me to Joseph Campbell’s work who I now also enjoy learning from. He was an American mythologist, writer, and lecturer. I came across one of Joseph Campbell’s quotes that I want to share with you.

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” 

When I read this, I instantly thought of what my son had shared with me several years ago. Yes, I needed to let go so that I could live the life that I did have with more joy and grace. I had struggled to let go of pretty much anything that did not go my way. 

As a parent of a child who Is autistic, letting go is essential. No, I did not plan on having a child with a lifelong disability but then I also did not plan on my life at age 58 being as it is. I am single, a recent empty nester, a new business owner, a type 1 diabetic, and loving every minute of my life. 

What is different now is that I have shifted how I perceive my life. My plans may still not work out but I now can see that maybe what actually is may be better. Joseph is who he is and that is exactly who he needs to be. I couldn’t see for many years that although I wanted a different life for him, his life was how he came to live it. 

He is thriving now but how he got there was not what I had planned for him. How he got there was how he needed to proceed in his own path in his own life. This was very difficult for me. I was very fearful that if he did not follow a plan that most others followed, he would perhaps become homeless one day or become lost and sad because he didn’t have me to give him the direction and support he needed. 

He had his own path to pave and I am so amazed. As I have let go of my plan, I can clearly see that his plan is more smooth and happy than I could have ever created. We all want the very best for our children. I know I certainly want both of my sons to thrive in their lives.

Accepting a different plan is very difficult. When we first get the diagnosis of autism for our child, it is not anything we planned. Dreams I had as a young girl were very different from what my life has been so far. It was a challenge to let go and accept a lifelong disability that Joseph was diagnosed with over 20 years ago. It has been difficult to become a hands-off parent. It has been difficult having Joseph 150 miles away from home. I had planned for my children to be closer to me but that is not, what is, right now. 

I have accepted and let go of many of my own personal plans of what I would rather experience, for the plans that I now am living. My children are thriving and that is what I have always wanted in my life. I do have what I want although it looks different than what I had planned. 

Take a moment and list all the plans that you have made that have been altered. How many of these plans in your life have worked out one way or another? My hunch is maybe they are even better than the original plans. I will never be jumping up and down about my son being autistic and that’s okay. I am jumping up and down about who he is. I accept his beauty unconditionally. 

I will continue to practice letting go of my plan and accept the life that I am meant to live. How? Here is a simple practice that I use to continue living with what is and the life that is waiting for me.

Daily Practice:

  • Each day begins with gratitude. No matter how challenging, there is something in your life that is worthy of thanks.
  • When you notice your thoughts moving towards a life that you wished you had rather than the life you do have, repeat your gratitude. Notice all the beauty you have in that moment.
  • Learn to be kind to yourself, remembering all the beauty inside of you. 
  • Do a small act of kindness for yourself each day. You will begin to notice that you are worthy. 
  • If you feel resistance, that is okay. It is a practice for a reason. It is a skill that must be practiced to truly be able to let go and feel the joy.

If this feels too big then start out one tiny step at a time. I know this is a challenge because I have been at the beginning where all was too big to accept. Love, beauty, and joy are waiting for you.

Autism Guide Brigitte Shipman Coach

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