Thinking about expectations

‘Tis the season of expectations and the dreaded let downs.  I have been thinking a lot about expectations in general.  I had a conversations a very long time ago with an old friend who told me, my expectations of other people were way too high.  Since then, I have questioned and analyzed my thinking and what my expectations are doing to my friendships and my relationships with my family.

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This picture is exactly what my life reveals right now.  We all have expectations in our lives: what we want out of life and who we want to become. I think one of the keys to happiness lies within the way you handle your expectations of people and circumstances. If you do not have expectations, you can never be disappointed. Speaking from experience, many times I tend to believe that the way I treat others will be the way I will treated in return. But, unfortunately, this does not always happen.

You need to make sure you enter into relationships with someone who has as big of a heart as you do. If you do not, you may feel as if you are being taken advantage of or are being shortchanged. You need to find people who appreciate what you do for them and who will reciprocate these actions.

Having realistic expectations will allow you to accept the flaws each person has. We need to learn how to take responsibility for our own lives and our own decisions before we can expect others to do the same. I have yet to learn this completely.

One of the biggest challenges we face in life, is learning to accept people for who they truly are. Once you realize that your expectations cannot change people, the better off you will be. The problem will come when the expectations do not happen. If you find that you are going out of your way many more times than the people you surround yourself with, it may be time to find a new group of friends.  This is where I do and do and do for people and my expectations don’t return.

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Unrealistic expectations can and will, and most often lead to disappointment. Too many people are obsessed with finding the perfect career or the perfect spouse, and as a result become increasingly frustrated when this does not work out.  I am one of those who are looking for the perfect job and the perfect relationship/boyfriend.  I have become angry and frustrated when things just aren’t as perfect as I want them to be.

A difficult assumption of having high expectations in certain circumstances is that we stay away from enjoying the experience altogether. If you feel this way in your life, you need to adjust your expectations. Do not expect things out of situations, just go into them with an open mind. This will allow you to fully engage yourself without the pressure of living up to defined concepts.  This makes total sense to me but seems so much harder to do. I kind of meld myself into what my surroundings are.

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When you have unrealistic expectations for people, you place yourself at a high risk of getting disappointed and hurt. This has happened soooo many times that I can’t count them all.  Yes, maybe someone did let you down in certain areas, but isn’t it naturally unfair to have these people on such a pedestal?  Maintaining an honest awareness of your own realities, you become able to determine what is really expected from others.

These kinds disappointment can lead to many outcomes, including trying to get this person to change and/or increased anger and frustration toward the person who is causing the disappointment. This becomes a problem since the fault lies with you for putting such pressure on this person.

There is contradictory issues when it comes to this. If you have high expectations, you can often end up disappointed, but if you don’t have these expectations, you may not try as hard as you could to accomplish a goal. These tendencies can turn people into perfectionists, which is far from a healthy lifestyle.  Let me just say that perfectionism is very exhausting and hard to keep up with.

 

Acceptance is an amazing trait that needs to be actively worked on. When things do not work out the way we had planned, it is much more beneficial to realize that is how life works rather than becoming frustrated at the situation. Have hope rather than expectations and you will tend not to be as disappointed.

 I am actively working on the acceptance of not putting expectations on people.

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Too Sensitive?

Plenty of terrible, shitty things have happened in my life. Those things, are pretty much second to the good and incredible things.  But somehow they seem to hold more significance than the positive.  R told me this, last night.  I am not so sure I see most things in a negative light.  Undoubtedly though, something happens and I find myself crawling out of that tiny, tight, dark space, gasping for air and stretching myself in search for some light. I repeatedly question my capacity to endure. Even though I’ve survived a million different things, I look at myself and feel so defenseless. Sending myself those messages, “You can’t handle anything. The smallest bit of wounded feelings could send you teetering over the edge at any moment. So just go ahead and sit with that. Wait for the other shoe to drop with your muscles impeded and tight and your brain spinning a million miles per hour and that’s what you get for being weak and defenseless.” The one problem for me, though, is that I don’t even understand why I do this to myself. I don’t even know what “weakness” I’m referring to. R also has told me that I am too sensitive.  Is it because I get dark when I feel some uncomfortable feeling or something? Is it because, in times of sorrow or grief or mourning, I find it incredibly difficult to scrape myself off of the ground and face the day? Is it because there are times when I feel this way, even when my life looks well assembled and pleasing from the outside? Is it times when I am so overwhelmed that I am paralyzed to even move or make a decision?  Is it because I get teary at things that touch my heart so much that the tears just begin to fall?

I know a lot of my anxiety comes from expectations. Expectations for myself, for the world around me, for the people in my life, for my career path, for my romantic life, etc etc etc. I could go on for days listing the expectations I’ve devised.  I am basically setting myself up for failure from the start. I realized this in a few of my friendships. I feel like I give and give and give to people.  I know in my heart that I am not wanting anything in return but my head says that they should be returning the favor.  Should there be some standard I hold myself to, strictly to challenge myself into failing, so I could prove my point, that I’m not capable or good enough? That I’m not too old or energetic enough or strong enough or smart enough? Why do I do this to myself?

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Second, there’s too much anxiety that comes as a result of being a highly sensitive person. I don’t love buying into the cliché with self-descriptions, but this is a real thing. My energy is sacred and limited. I’ve come to discover many things that drain my energy: being in loud, crowded spaces without a hole to collect myself in. Spending too much time with extremely extroverted people, who I can’t keep up with. Trying to solve so many of my daughters issues and conflicts.  My therapist suggested that I’m also probably losing a great deal of physical energy as a result of the above mentioned expectations. His perfect imagery of a runner, muscles clenched, crouched at the starting line, preparing for the gun to go off, really got through to me. For weeks, before any anticipated events in my life (even seeing my own family) I tighten up and begin to cycle through the conversations and scenarios and thoughts and expectations and potential outcomes and the million of feelings I could experience. This happens more so with anything that has to do with K.  I try to plan ahead to put out fires before they happen.  To figure out what her next meltdown is going to be like.  It really is like being a runner, waiting at the starting line all day, every day, for a race that doesn’t start until next month. It’s no surprise why I’m exhausted (actually, it was quite a surprise. Being the self-obsessed person I am, he had a very valid explanation for my fatigue.)

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I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had such incredible access to mental health services for such a long time. Now my 2nd super kick-ass therapist, I realize just how much these resources can do to help a person heal. There’s so much to be said about both of my therapists(Ang in Iowa and Adam here) and the experiences I’ve had. The way I’ve opened and challenged myself, has never easy.   I think there is a lot within my story that can be of use to other people, especially those in similar places in their lives. I vow to always be candid and straightforward as I continue to share my relationship with mental health, therapy, and struggle with life and in my relationships with others. 

#4 to think about

Here is # 4 Epiphany to think about:

4. Most of life is imaginary.

Human beings have a habit of compulsive thinking that is so pervasive that we lose sight of the fact that we are nearly always thinking. Most of what we interact with is not the world itself, but our beliefs about it, our expectations of it, and our personal interests in it. We have a very difficult time observing something without confusing it with the thoughts we have about it, and so the bulk of what we experience in life is imaginary things. As Mark Twain said: “I’ve been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” The best treatment I’ve found? Cultivating mindfulness.

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I find mindfulness difficult at times.  Most the time my mind is way to FULL.  I have these very busy thoughts running and running around in my head.  It’s hard to slow them down enough to just sit and breathe somedays.  But ya know, if you can actually sit down, turn off your phone, shut down the computer, turn off the tv and music, and just sit.  Total silence.  I know…..silence.  You hear what?  Your breath?  the hum of the AC?  the birds outside?  the neighbors upstairs?  What do you hear?  do you hear all that noise in your head?  STOP!  for a few moments and block out all that noise and listen to your own breathing.  In and out.  feel that breath go in and out.  relax.  and breathe.  calm your insides which calm your outsides.

It works!!  just try it for a moment.  Once or twice a day.  If things get too hectic….stop!  block out all that noise and take a minute or two and become mindful of your breathing.  relax.  and breathe.  you will soon notice your heart beat calming down.  you will be able to think more clearly when you get back to work or whatever it is that you were doing.

I am no guru in this.  But i have practiced a lot of this.  I believe this is how I survived for a long time.  How I got through some most stressful times in my life.

I am working with K about not making big things out of small things.  Her thinking makes her observation of things clearly out of proportion of what is.  I know her brain isn’t all grown into what an adult brain is, but trying to help her to understand that these little things don’t have to be huge things is something that she needs to figure out.  She soon will be in situations where having full blown melt downs is not exceptable at her age.  albeit, her melt downs have become less and less over the summer (thank the good Lord).  I know she is growing up and showing change.  Her attitude is changing too.  Teaching her mindfulness is difficult tho.  She has a hard time grasping that idea.  But I am not giving up on that.  🙂

Start off the New Year

I want to start off this new year with a link to Chris Sprad’s blog…..Epic Parent.tv .  Today they have something awesome that I think needs to be shared with every parent out there (and not parents too….every person).  So…. here it is:

2013 WILL NOT BE “YOUR YEAR”

Published on January 1, 2013, by  – Posted in HOME0

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If your house looks like ours then chances are you have a fridge full of leftover holiday goodies, hopefully some of them are wrapped in bacon.

But now that it’s a New Year your going to throw it all away and eat healthy.

You may have wrapping paper lurking in the corners of your living room and no idea where to put the influx of new toys from Christmas.

But it’s a New Year now and it’s the year that you will finally tackle the organizing projects you’ve been pinning!

Maybe you’re yelling at your kids more than you should be or you have some parenting questions that need to be answered.

But it’s okay because you downloaded 4 new parenting books and mommy devotionals to your new Kindle fire so you will be a perfect parent by March, probably sooner.

Ahhh… New Years Day, the one day of the year where perfection seems downright possible.

When we let ourselves get carried away by good, probably even Godly goals and buy new exercise clothes, diet shakes and a few dozen books all in an attempt to have this be “the year.”

I hope that this is your year, the year where it all seems to click for you.  Yet I have to warn you that we tend to dream big and criticize even bigger.  Odds are that next year you’ll find yourself in the same boat until you internalize the reality that life is a journey, there will always be steps to take as long as you’re sucking air.

There is no “there” and there is no “the year.”  There are no people who “have it all together.”  Every person has their issues and every year will bring with it new challenges and painful times.

The best thing that we can possibly do is to try to close the gap between where we are now and where we feel like God’s calling us to be.

Realize that there will not be a year when “you’ve arrived” so all you can do is listen for God’s voice and move in that direction.

This is pretty much the plan until you die or until that weird noise you’re hearing outside the window is actually the rapture and not your toddler sticking chalk in the bubble machine you just bought them.

Have grace, be more the person God created you to be, repeat, this is the best resolution any of us can possibly make.