Self care strategy #17: set your expectation meter to reasonable

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?

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2 Replies to “Self care strategy #17: set your expectation meter to reasonable”

  1. Hey there! Enjoyed the read. I spent the first 5 years of my son’s life learning how to think differently about Expectations, so I totally get what you are saying here.

    I said the other day to a friend of mine, “I don’t expect people to respect me the way I feel the right to be respected. What I expect is only of myself to not take their behavior personally.” There are times when I have taken other people’s behavior towards me personally, like it was a direct reflection of my value, my value to them, my value to this world, and what kind of value I should have in regards to them as a person in my life. In other words, my respect towards them was conditional, could only be given if they respected me as well. Sounds reasonable, right? But it wasn’t. It wasn’t functional or reasonable for me. I felt angry a lot, disappointed in others a lot, and like I couldn’t connect with anyone else in a meaningful way.

    It took some time, and therapy, but I started to see how this way of looking at life – the whole I DESERVE SOMETHING way was hurting me, because everyone comes with their own set of ideas, baggage, memories, and experiences. Sometimes their experiences are similar to mine {hey, I like this person!} but did not have similar affects on them {hey what an ass this person is being i hate being around them!}. It was obvious that at the way I was going, it was impossible for anyone to meet my expectations or for me to respect their boundaries and personhood in return.

    I’ve learned how to hold people accountable for their ‘ishes by setting boundaries with them. Not by demanding respect from them but instead looking at how their behavior affects me and changing my behavior towards them, and sometimes that means just simply putting space between them and I. In this way, I am respecting myself and I don’t need the validation of their respect. My self-respect/love is enough – overflowing my cup – enough.

    This was a hard change for me because like most humans, I had trauma to deal with in order to get to this place. I think there is so much power in behavior and words – l look at how upset I have gotten in the past by the way other’s treat me/respond to me – and I began to see how I have that much power over myself, too.

    So to take that power back {so to speak} I focus on my behavior and let go of that ego part of me that feels I deserve anything from anyone else. I deserve to treat myself well, and yes, sometimes that means not being around someone or avoiding conflict with another person, or allowing someone else to have their ishes all by themselves. Respecting myself isn’t about fueling conflict, telling someone what I think, or getting in someone else’s space/face to educate them, it is about knowing that I don’t have to do that, that it is not my responsibility to school them, that I am not worse off because of their douchbaggery behavior towards me.

    There was a scene in a recent The Office episode that I thought was amazing. I love the way these characters are written. Angela was talking about her wedding to the whole staff, letting them know that she wasn’t going to be able to invite all of them because of all her finance’s important friends and how she wants a nice wedding, like Pam’s ironic wedding, but instead a real nice wedding {or something like that}. She was making a passive/aggressive criticism of Pam and Jim’s wedding. The viewer knew this, the office mates could see this, Pam knew it – as was evident to her subtle, “ohmygawd” look directly into the camera. However, and this is the genius of this particular show IMO, she doesn’t “go off,” correct, demand acknowledgement from Angela of the utter lack of respect she was showing. She doesn’t feel the need to show everyone that SHE DESERVES RESPECT from Angela. She simply looks at Angela and says {paraphrasing from memory here}: I think you and Roy will have an amazing wedding.

    Normally, the writers of a show would fuel this idea that women need to demand respect from each other and put each other in check when it isn’t automatically given… when Pam said that to Angela, Angela smugly smiled in a “thank you” kind of way. On MTV’s “Real World” that shit would have ended in a fight. But in real life, to get along, you don’t take other people’s shit personally and ya just keep moving. :o)

    1. As I said in Hip Mamas you articulately speak about the journey of mamahood and how we can learn to practice self love and respect instead of demanding it from others. You rock! Thank you for stopping by and posting.

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