Take time to explore your expectations from past and present. Are you content or ready for change?
When do you expect too much of yourself? Do you ever expect too little? I have no experience expecting too little of myself, but would be curious about others’ experiences with that. (How about a comment after you read this?) How do your expectations play
out? What childhood lessons contributed to that? If you had no expectations from others, did that lead to having few for yourself? How might your life be more fulfilled if you expected more of yourself? Do you agree when Shakespeare suggests that "Expectation is the root of all heartache"? Or Banderas "Expectation is the mother of all frustration." Would we be as proud of ourselves if we didn't plan for certain results?
That is one scenario. On the other hand, as a child, you might have gotten the message that you weren’t good enough, weren’t doing enough. You may have carried that through your adult life. Always doing a little more than you wanted to, just to be sure it was “enough.”
When I was a girl, I never got to spend more than a few minutes reading a book before I’d be called downstairs to help. There was always work to do. What I internalized, even though my head knows better now, is that I count when I do things. If I'd known Eric Hoffer's "Disappointment is a sort of bankruptcy - the bankruptcy of a soul that expends too much in hope and expectation," I'm curious if I'd have more easily gone with the flow, instead of spending as much time as I did wishing things could be different.
Back then and sometimes now, I believed if I were productive and could check off my To Do list, I was okay. It’s hard to know if that is conditioning or who I now am. I know how easy it is to expect myself to send out one more email, read one more article, make one more call no matter how much I’ve already done. Brian Tracy suggests that "We will always tend to fulfill our own expectation of ourselves."
Now I do get great satisfaction from what I accomplish and what I’m able to share. Perhaps part of me agrees with William Congreve who said "Uncertainty and expectation are the joys of life. Security is an insipid thing." But sometimes I notice one of my six roomers spending lots of time watching TV or going out, and I am wistful, because I’ll have a twinge if I “goof off” too often. Not that I haven’t had my times. I spent three months in Southeast Asia in 1995 on my own, and two weeks with a partner exploring fall colors in Vermont in 1997. And there have been many foreign trips and lots of local experiences I've enjoyed the past 16 years.
Perhaps it comes down to balance. If you’re content 90% of the time, you’ve probably worked out the “too much—too little” issue. If you’re feeling listless, useless, without a purpose or vision, or overwhelmed, stressed, without time for yourself, this may be a time to consider a change. You know, sometimes it is as easy as just deciding to change. That’s one way some smokers and overeaters have done it. What’s a way you might find a balance between “too much” and “too little”?
What might the changes be? John Ruskin, over 100 years ago, said "What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do." One less TV program so you have time for a pet project? Shutting off the phone or computer at 8 or 9 pm instead of 11:00? Repeating Louise Hay’s affirmation “I approve of myself” as many times a day as you get a dissatisfied
feeling about yourself? Taking in what friends say about how much you expect of yourself? Taking five to 55 minutes every day just to daydream, to journal, to sing, to express yourself? I’ve taken turns doing several of these. What can wait? What can’t?
How about taking the next 20 or so minutes to write down the areas of your life where you perhaps expect too much of yourself. Where might you expect too little? Finally, what is one change in your life that could lead more balance? Will you do it?
If you'd like to explore your expectations, or any other area of your life, call me for a complimentary 30 minute coaching session. I'm at 206-938-8385. Moreah