Episode 120: Dropping Expectations About Myself and Addiction
It’s almost the new year, and historically, I do a podcast about the holidays. But, I’ve already done that. If you’re looking for helpful tips on how to deal with New Year’s Eve, then I suggest reading here.
Today, I’m going to use you as a sounding board to work through my own thoughts with something I’ve been struggling with lately. And, I think it might pertain to you too. So, maybe we can work through it together?
I’m 41, and I feel like I’m finally figuring out who I really am. The last time I took a good, honest self-inventory was during my divorce from a wonderful man who suffers from alcoholism and addiction. Which was over 10 years ago. Yes, I’ve been taking inventory here or there, but have I really been asking myself the defining questions that will help make decisions about my future? And, have I gone really, really, deep? The answer is, no.
Mostly because I have a ton of kids, and I’m busy just dealing with life. Getting dinner on the table is struggle enough. Who has time to really reflect? That feels like a luxury.
I’ve been asking myself some really hard questions and trying to make peace with complete acceptance of who I am today, and who I want to become.
Then dropping all expectations of this fictitious person that I’m always trying to live up to.
Because I think expectations are the thief of joy for me, and probably for you too because we’re very similar. We have very high expectations of ourselves and our loved ones.
I can run myself into the ground trying to meet my expectations of having a clean house, and of my kids, my weight, and trying to get dinner on the table at least five days a week. Even cooking it from scratch, which is something I love to do.
But, if you set the expectation that you’re a bad mom if you don’t cook from scratch five days a week, well then it takes the joy out of cooking. Right?
If you have expectations of your weight, like “I’m going to exercise five days a week and lose 10 pounds doing it,” it takes the joy away from exercising.
If you have expectations of your husband, partner, or wife that they should behave in a certain way, treat you a certain way, or affirm you in a certain way, then doesn’t that rob you of the joy of your relationship?
I mean, aren’t all of these expectations seriously the kill-joys of our life?
And, who the heck are we to decide where to set the bar? That’s what I kept thinking to myself. I’m like, “Michelle, who am I to decide how my kids are supposed to behave? Who am I to decide what the definition of success is? Who am I to decide that my husband should communicate to me like this?”
What makes me the judge and jury to set the bar? That’s crazy.
Instead of going around with all these incredible expectations of everyone in every situation, including myself, why don’t I just enjoy all of the wonderful things that I do have, like the relationships, and the small but significant victories?
When I have expectations, and they’re not met, how the heck am I ever going to feel grateful? How will I ever feel thankful for what I have if I’m constantly looking at ways to take what I have and make it better or comparing it to others?
Expectations are the death of us.
How wonderful would it be if we could be laid back, easy-going, go-with-the-flow, grateful? What if we just took life moment by moment?
Think about how much more creative could we be and how much more joy would we have in our day. I don’t know the answer to that because that’s not how I live my life. I’m constantly trying to achieve and meet goals and do better and improve.
For 2019, what I really need to do is try to find a better balance between living in both worlds. Having one foot in this achiever mentality, where I’m pushing myself, and pushing the people around me to improve and do better. But then I need to remove the second foot and plant it firmly in a different area which is to be a little bit more laid back. I want to be the one that drops the judgment of myself and my life, my friends, my family, and my kids, and go, “This is good.” Even when things don’t feel good. Even when I think I’m failing, or I’m disappointing, or I have felt disappointed.
How transformative would it be to have a little bit more of a balance in my life, and to really aim for fifty-fifty?
So, that’s what I’m going to do. My goal for 2019 is to drop all expectations of myself and those around me. To try and live in the moment, with a more open heart and creative spirit. To not be so focused and head down to get more stuff accomplished, or trying to cross things off my to-do list.
And I hope that you’ll join me.
If you’re already laid back, then at least join me on the dropping expectations part.
Ask yourself this question…
Where do I have expectations that are unrealistic in my life; with myself, my relationships, and in general?
Really take a moment. We can do this together. Get a pen and paper, think of all your relationships, and write down every expectation that you want to drop.
Here are some examples of expectations that you might need to let go:
I have an expectation that:
- my partner is going to call me every time they’re late coming home from work, even though they usually never do
- they’re going to attend rehab and come home sober
- they’re going quit drugs, and go to A.A. meetings five times a week, and be sober for the rest of their life
- my partner is going to care for my kids to let me relax and give me a day off
- my partner will tell me what I need to hear, exactly at the right moment
- they’ll let me know how beautiful and wonderful I am, and say the appropriate words that will lift me up and make me feel special
These expectations are traps that make us feel not good enough.
Let’s start looking around at our lives and notice all of the good things that are happening. We can say, “This is good enough for me right now. I’m happy and living my life in joy, not fear.”
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