Today, I want to talk about a topic that has been on my heart lately. This conversation can go a lot of different directions, but for the sake of clarity (and the fact that it's now Monday morning and I'm in my PJs procrastinating getting ready for work) I'm going to keep this short and sweet.
If you hadn't guessed it from the title, I'll be talking about expectations, how they truly affect our actions and what we can do to benefit ourselves when they are either too high or too low.
In regards to my own expectations lately, whether filled with worry, excitement or a combination of both, I've been learning a few new things about how I've been training my brain:
The big one is that I either expect very little or I expect too much.
I'm setting myself up for what's to come as a result which stems from the thought I constantly repeat in my head (e.g. today is going to be rough because of X, Y, and Z).
Intentional or not, things we often set ourselves up for are:
I don't know about you, but Monday's are a day where I see this happen in myself the most. Right now I'm actually battling with setting my expectations a little higher because they are set to the lowest of lows, which leads me to already behave as if this defines my today; giving truth to ungrounded thoughts.
This goes both ways. Sometimes we think if we lower our expectations, then we won't be disappointed. There will be less pain or negative feelings because, well, we expected the worst right?
On the other hand, if we set lower standards for ourselves, or set the bar too low, we don't chase the possibilities we have before us, and therefore miss the opportunity to pursue whatever it was because we didn't allow ourselves to reach a little bit higher.
I mean, is it realistic to believe we can actually avoid disappointment? Avoid pain?
No! Can we blame ourselves for trying? Again, no (actually, heck no).
Growing up, I was raised under the belief that if I don't expect much from myself, or from others, then everything will be fine. If that was the case, how come I was constantly paranoid, depressed, and doubted my ambitions were worthy of taking a try at?
I've had conversations with friends now about how we should still try to lower expectations because if we set the bar too high with an unrealistic optimism, we're again setting ourselves up for failure. If you look at optimism with a pessimistic view, you're definitely doing so.
But there definitely is a need for us to notice when we're setting the bar too high or too low. We know ourselves better than anyone else, so only you can determine whether your goals are attainable.
And on a slightly different note that I really want to add: set expectations for yourself, but don't put those same pressures on those around you. If you find yourself doing so to ones near and dear to you, just talk about it. Let them know what's been running through your head lately, but try not to expect they'll know what you want or are intending to say.
What I've learned as of today, is that we need to allow ourselves to accept the outcome of our expectations and the actions that occur as a result of those expectations, acted out or not.
Whatever those may be.
I say "allow" because I think we have this idealistic view on what our life should look like - even if it's not what the world deems as perfect, we all have our own definitions.
That a perfect or better than what we have life will have little trouble. But when all we do is worry or expect the worse, we allow more trouble then would be.
We need to get to the source of and adjust our vision of the ideal before we can really adjust our expectations that affect our actions and behaviors.
Whether you're expecting the best or the worse, keep in mind there is room for the other.
1. Acknowledge it. Once you start to feel that bogged down, going down the rabbit hole of anxiety, ask yourself what you are thinking of today. What are you expecting? Is there anything you aren't looking forward to? Realize this happens to everyone, you are not alone and you are not worse of a person for having worries that may seem ridiculous at first. It's not.
2. Write it down or speak it out loud. i find it super helpful when I write down my fear of the day and/or share my doubts of the day with a close friend in a safe space. This allows you to validate what you're feeling does not make you incapable of moving forward with a better mindset and also makes room for any words of advice your friend may have.
3. Turn it around. Whatever your worry or low expectation is of the day, yourself, or someone else in your life, write a new story. Only you have the control over what you think about and how you approach and act on it. Other people and unplanned or unexpected events can impact you in many ways, of course, but in the end no one is forcing your hand on how you set your expectations and pursuits on such.
If there's anything you get from my words today, I hope it's that you strive to expect great things today.