Ridiculously High Expectations

Do you ever suffer from ridiculously high expectations? I think I do.

I’ve built my life around the expectations I feel I can consistently manage: mostly having a clean house, relatively good boundaries with family and friends (especially around the time I have to give to them), and knowing exactly what parameters for success means for me for work because I work for myself.

I have worked to expand into areas where I have less control- and to be honest it’s an uncomfortable process that I’ve had to learn to manage and have expectations around. For example: as a business owner, when I grew my business from me being the only person to having contractors who work for me- I knew I had to know with every fiber of my being that they weren’t going to be perfect 100% of the time. Just like me- they were going to miss things, not see things, have strange experiences at weddings that threw them off their game, or simply make mistakes from time to time.

Once I said yes to working with other- this was actually really easy for me to process, and naturally I felt compassion around blunders because I know we’re all just human. I knew they were doing their best- and that has always been enough for me.

But do I extend this same compassion towards myself? Not even close!

And what I just realized is, I have this irrational belief that I’m allowed to be human if no one is mad at me for being flawed or having weaknesses, but if someone is mad at me or if I let someone/something down, then I feel a significant amount of shame and irrational guilt.

Recently I had an experience where I didn’t feel like I was my best self. Well actually- in the moment I knew I was doing the best I could. I was trying SO hard. I was managing a million directions I was being pulled in, constantly changing circumstances, and high expectations put on me to begin with- and as soon as I finished the day, I felt crushed. I felt as though it wasn’t enough.

After this, I began to spiral out. Dissecting every moment from the day where I “messed” up. Where things didn’t go as well as I hoped. Where my weaknesses and flaws shined through, and where each one was so was a well of shame. And as as the waves of shame started to move through me and I tried to work through them- the shame evolved into guilt.

Of course it’s healthy for us to look at and own up to the areas that we could have done better. And while that’s not always comfortable, it’s important to do this. But as I did this in this situation where I was beating myself up, I realized that only a small portion of what I was feeling could be attributed to appropriate guilt and those were things I felt confident in learning and growing from.

The bigger portion of the mess I was feeling was irrational guilt due to way too high of expectations of myself. I expect myself to make the “right” decisions 100% of the time- and the truth is, in the experience I went through there were no “right” decisions because all of the options kind of sucked.

And sadly, the only thing I felt could get me out of this was getting validation from others that I was good enough. (Ugh). I KNOW better, yet I couldn’t help but feel that because I didn’t get validation right away, that I must have done something wrong or bad.

These are the times that I wish I could find the little child inside of me who was hurt in that way, and make it all better. As a rational and capable adult I can offer that to myself now. But it doesn’t make it easy to do so.

What I did is allowed my rational self to know that it was going to take time to let go, and to try to do whatever I could to fully process my feelings, categorizing what I could in the irrational or rational buckets, and then just practice as must self compassion as I could muster.

This is BIG stuff- stuff that I’m not good at, nor that I have time and tried experiences with healing inside of me. I’ve done some work, but I’m still on my healing journey. That’s why I think it’s important to put this experience out into the world, so that if someone else finds this in a moment of need that they can feel seen through the shared experience with another.

I found this passage by Melody Beattie in The Language of Letting Go that resonated deeply during this time of need, “Stop trying so hard to control things. It is not our job to control people, outcomes, circumstances, life….Stop trying so hard to do better, be better, be more. Who we are and the way we do things is good enough for today….Ease up on ourselves. Let go. Stop trying so hard.”

Doesn’t that just force you to stop and take a deep breath? That’s what it does for me.

It’s okay for us to be 100% human and to not hold ourselves to ridiculously high expectations. Let’s just define good and reasonable expectations for ourselves, and let’s allow them to be the same that we would offer to our dearest friends. When we can do this- that is an act of self compassion. And such a needed practice when we suffer in this way.

Check out the complimentary podcast episode where I talk in connection with today’s blog about the struggle to let go when facing these tough bouts with high expectations.

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By |2021-07-26T20:22:10+00:00July 26th, 2021|General|0 Comments

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