“Expectations are resentments waiting to happen” Anne Lamott
We all have expectations of what we feel our lives should look like, where we should be in life, what we should be doing, and a ton of other “shoulds” that our younger self created an ambiguous Life Expectation List. As much as I enjoy reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, I think my life story could be entitled Failed Expectations instead. No, that is not my negative roommate coming out – it is my truth. My expectations for my life were unrealistic and based on fantasy and not the wisdom of my ‘elder age’. At this stage of my life, I am looking for realistic expectations so that I can enjoy each day instead of setting myself up for failure with a list of expectations that can never be met. No matter how much caffeine I consume – which is a really hard truth for me to embrace some days.
Unmet expectations often lead to internal shame or external resentment. If it was an expectation that you have set for yourself that you have been unable to achieve it often triggers an addition to a shame pile that we keep hidden from others. As we have discussed before, shame creates a barrier between us and those we care about out of fear that they will ‘figure out our secrets’ and determine that we are really not worth it. The larger the pile, the greater the barrier and the more isolated we can feel. After this past year, the last thing any of us needs is more isolation! The second way we can have expectations is for others. The expectations can be stated or implied, but if they are not met there is the potential of resentment brewing as a result. One thing about resentment is that it tends to explode when we least expect it, especially since sometimes we are completely unaware of what is going on.
What do your expectations look like? Have they changed over the last year? I am finding that many expectations have shifted over the past year based upon whatever those in your “bubble” or on your social media feed have been doing. Good or bad. Perhaps the first step is being aware of what your expectations truly are. Not what you THINK they are – what is really there at the core. Take a piece of blank paper and write the word EXPECTATIONS in the middle of the page. Then start writing! What is the first thing you think of, then the next, and so on and so forth. You may be surprised at what actually comes out!
Once you know what your expectations are then you can take a look to see how realistic they all truly are. Trying to lose 25lbs before your vacation in May? Want to launch a new e-course by summer (but don’t even know the topic)? There will be some items that are very clear to you that are unrealistic, but others may be confusing. For the expectations, you are unsure of a simple question: is it in my control or out of my control? may help you determine if it is realistic or not. Focus on what you CAN control instead of what you cannot control. It will take much less energy and you will probably enjoy your life a little bit more each day.
Finally, who and what you are is not directly linked to what you feel your expectations of self are. You have worth and value just how you are right now. Today. Without the e-course and with an extra 25 lbs. You are worthy of love, belonging, and acceptance just by being you.
If you need help working embracing your worth & value right as you are today – let’s chat! I provide online therapy in Ohio, Tennessee, Florida, California, and Pennsylvania. I’m proud to offer online therapy for helping professionals, online therapy for busy professionals, and Therapy for Therapists™. I specialize in treating imposter syndrome, burnout, and anxiety using The Daring Way™ and offer online workshops to clients who want to overcome shame. Contact me today and let’s be rockstars together!
As always, take care of you and know that you are not alone –