Disney Syndrome: or Why Isn’t This Perfect?

Disney Syndrome:  

the development of an out look on life which promotes the belief that  “true love” and a “happily ever after” are natural and effortless states of being.  Relationships and life must conform to Disney’s pattern or it is not “true love” or “happiness.”

That is my own definition.  Someone else could define it better I’m sure, and I am not a life expert.

However M. and I have observed this: there are an awful lot of people in the world who want and believe in the Disney effect. It seems to be particularly high among women but we also know a lovely loving husband who is a great father that was pretty close to not marrying the woman he loves because of Disney Syndrome.  

There is a common formula for happiness:

Happiness formula

My generation and the generations younger than me (seriously click that link I just gave you and read it its awesome!) suffer from Disney Syndrome. It is there in the way we think and we may not even be aware of it.  Of course its not only Disney: it is Hollywood, advertising and glossy magazines too. The reality is that in the western world our every day is frequently punctuated with seeing perfectly staged,  lighted, scripted and executed events taking place in fantasy settings or perfected realities.  There becomes a normality in feeling like there should be a script to our lives too:  Why doesn’t he do that thing that is supposed to make this moment perfect? Why can’t I have that living room too?  Why don’t I look and feel like that mom in the childbirth magazine that I read 40 times before this little red crying thing entered my life? Then we get on our social media sites and portray a life edited from reality  (seriously read that link!).  Instagram is heavily edited. Facebook has a few people with NO FREAKING FILTER (a pet peeve of mine) but most of us post only what we want people to see.  And is it possible to Tweet in  140 characters or less a real life? Can anyone name a social media site where we let everything hang out?  

Our expectations are formed subconsciously and influenced by what we know, what we see and what we do.  No generation before has had such a freely available source of aspirational material as Hollywood, TV and magazines produce day in day out for our entertainment.  So if  what we see, do and know comes at us all day through billboards, books and TV showing a wildly luxurious world full of perfectly staged,  lighted, scripted and executed events which all turn out great:  in the end (naturally) our subconscious expectations will be effected.  Then we all pretend to be reaching our goals so what our peers see is success and it completes a picture of expectation.  Aspiration and expectation in themselves are not always bad things so long as they does not cross over to covetousness…  however thinking this way is so detrimental to our relationships (making them and keeping them going) that it eats away slowly at the way we feel about each other and ourselves.  It makes us feel dissatisfied no matter how much privilege we receive on a daily basis.

 As newlyweds my poor clueless husband was always trying to perform feats of romance totally unsuited to his personality and temperament because of my expectations and to a certain degree his own.  So we limped and halted through years of stilted anniversary dinners at restaurants that provided utensils we din’t know how to use and every time we hated it, had an argument and wished we had just gone down to Pizza Hut.  Our reality was divided down by too high an expectation leaving us with too small a pot of happiness.  Eventually we figured it out and I don’t think either of us miss those days of attempted failed romance.

Raising girls has made this so important to us.  It is not healthy to expect perfection in your spouse, friends or your home.  Its not healthy to expect airbrushed perfection in your own body.  I am a natural perfectionist.  It is not good.  I do have to remind myself daily to back off: The stupid towels thrown over their poles in the bathroom in a messy way don’t matter.  Ignore the shoes left at the bottom of the stairs again.  Yeah… no one cares what bowls the food is presented in- they just want it on their plate and in their stomachs when they get hungry.

 So go on. Shuck off those expectations: look at and accept the reality around you and find beauty in it.

Paul the apostle said: I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  

That is my every day reminder not to let all the extraneous worries, ambitions of perfection and superfluity of stuff get in the way of what matters in life.  To reach for something better than this life and to be happy with God’s good gifts.  So my goats have to go… life isn’t perfect the way I expect it- its a simple matter of adjusting my expectations to reality.

xx

Jo

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