Expecting Too Much of Yourself? Read This:
A few years back, as an experiment, I wrote down everything I expected me to do over the course of a week, whether it was with regards to work, home, family, time for myself. I also noted my mood, particularly my sources of frustration, and I was in for a bit of a shock: just in terms of work alone, I typically expected me to do the equivalent of 3-4 weeks work in one week.
Now think about that for a moment: If I’m maxed out by 3-4 times my capacity before I even think about anything else, including trying to be The Perfect Mother TM or Wonder Woman, I am running on empty.
Some of my personal signs:
- Trying to be in control of stuff that I’m not in control of
- Spending far too long on something
- Tweaking and tweaking and tweaking again
- Not keeping it simple
- A spate of forgetfulness
- Cranky because I’m not voicing where I feel frustrated or out of control somewhere else
- Feeling as if I’m doing a trillion things at once
- More than a handful of key things to do for the day
- Not feeling energised and lit up by what I’m doing
- A frenetic energy
- Wanting things yesterday so that I don’t have to feel anxious about whether something will go well or badly
- Feeling that I am not a success
If you’re a people pleaser and perfectionist, you will have your own signs and the more awareness you have of them, is the less they take you over because you can respond to these and take you in a different direction.
I use these times when I expect too much, to surrender, to let go of the need to be in control, the stories and the faux inner rules that show up as a protective mechanism. The latter are rules that I’ve made up or internalised for how Natalie ‘should’ live her life and all they do is leave me feeling guilty and anxious.
I’ve also learned that I don’t have to comply with these expectations and that engaging in a dialogue with myself, helps me to make sense of what I’m doing and get out of autocompliance mode.
If we keep trying to find ‘more’ without respect for what we have and without respect for our minds, bodies and time, it’s inevitable that we will burn out and we will always feel that we are not enough.
We believe that we are not being enough.
We believe that we are not doing enough.
We believe that we are inadequate because we don’t look perfect or in line with what we think are universal standards, or we don’t have the perfect background, or because we’re not in the relationship/career/business/life we desire yet.
We wait for the world to cut us some slack and to say, ‘Good job’, but in truth, it’s us that needs to recognise it because we are holding us to a standard that no else is or can.
We expect too much of ourselves.
All of this ‘stuff’ we’re doing to be pleasing and perfect, is not only a misappropriation of our time, energy and self-esteem, but aside from all of that and it being exhausting as well, when we consider the underlying motivations for doing so (catering to the past), we are expecting the impossible.
It’s your time now.
You cannot change the past or even those old expectations but you can change your present and your future. It’s yours for the changing.
You are not going to be task master coach today and serene and chill tomorrow, but small steps every day and commit to healing the baggage behind the pattern and healing the habit.
- Get a piece of paper and write down any and all memories that you have about not pleasing others, not being ‘good enough’, and any messages that you’ve picked up including sayings about laziness, achieving high grades, success, being the best. Anything that springs to mind, especially anything that brings up emotion for you, contributes to your habits around people pleasing and perfectionism. Use the Unsent Letter Guide to help you with forgiveness work.
- Write down your ‘rules’. Any ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ are rules. Question all of them and turn ones that you want to keep into autonomous choices and lose any that are entirely unnecessary and draining.
- Keep a ‘What I Did Today List’ so that you have a realistic concept of your time, energy and efforts. This is a shift from focusing on what you don’t do, to what you do. Also write down everything that you expect you to do in a day and ask yourself: Is this what I would expect someone who I care about and respect to do? Also, review your week so that you get in the habit of internalising what you do through acknowledgement and self-praise.
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