Part of good self care means recognizing when we are experiencing unreasonable expectations. We tend to have certain beliefs about ourselves and others that can sometimes be completely unrealistic. For the longest time I thought being a good Mom meant that I cooked homemade meals every night, maintained a cool, calm demeanor all the time, and read books to my son every night. Well, considering I also have a full time job, it started to feel overwhelming to try to conform to these standards I had set for myself. If I didn’t accomplish these tasks on a regular basis I’d start beating myself up about it. Recently I discovered that part of self care means recognizing our own limitations, allowing ourselves to be human and stopping the barrage of criticism coming from my inner critic. I say, enough already! We tend to accumulate years of other people’s beliefs about what we need to be and how we need to do something. Well, did we ever stop to think that we don’t have to agree with other people’s opinions?
Our freedom lies in the power to make our own decisions about how to manage our own lives. It also lies in the ability to release others from unreasonable expectations we also hold of them. Maybe our parents weren’t all we expected of them. Perhaps our extended family can’t meet all of our needs when we need them. Our friends might be busy with their own lives and don’t stay in touch as often as we’d like them to do. Regardless of other people’s behavior though, we can still choose to live good lives. We can let go of beliefs that might be interfering with our ability to have healthy connections with others. We can not expect others to meet all of our needs. It is up to us to make that happen.
What are your expectations for yourself? What do you believe about others and the roles they serve in your life? How can you balance your beliefs to reflect realistic expectations for yourself or others?