Freedom From Expectations

Right from the moment you are born, you are taught to pay more attention to what others expect of you, and to ignore your own wants and needs.  You are taught to be “unselfish” and put the needs and wants of others before your own.  As a child were you constantly being compared to others?

  • Did  a parent or loved one ever say “why can’t you be like “so and so”? in comparison to how they dressed or acted?
  • Did you ever hear “why can’t you be an “A” student?”
  • If you were in sports or played an instrument, did you feel like you disappointed your parents or loved ones because you weren’t the best?
  • Were comments made comparing how your body looked – too short, too tall, too skinny; too fat…,  compared to some idealized person?
  • Were you ever made to feel like you took up too much space – like you shouldn’t have any needs at all?
  • Did your parents or loved ones have the “favorite” child and you were just the “extra” one?

Or maybe it was the opposite and you were really talented, got good grades, outshined others.  Did you feel peer pressure to be less than you were capable of being?  Did your friends or siblings make you feel bad because they couldn’t or just didn’t want to put in the effort to excel – and they wanted you to be the same way?

Most schools have the cliques – and the “nerds” were never treated the same as the “jocks”.  Comparisons start at an early age and seem to follow us throughout our lives.  If you spend all of your time trying to live up to, or down to others expectations, it can feel like you’re in an ocean surrounded by sharks.  They surround you just waiting until you can no longer keep your head above water.

“In therapy I have learned the importance of keeping spiritual life and professional life balanced.  I need to regain my balance” – Tiger Woods

I thought that these quotes by Tiger Woods really revealed how from a young age he had spent most of his life, first living up to his fathers expectations, later coaches expectations, and then the expectations of his fan base.  It can cause you to become extremely imbalanced between your career and the rest of your life (relationships with spouse, children, your health, your spiritual life…, etc).

Part of what you have to do is to back off from living up to others expectations, and take the time to consider who you really are or what you really need.  Especially when you are in sports or some other field of entertainment, you can get so caught up in thinking that you are only the “golfer” or the “basketball player”.  Christopher Reeves became known as superman, a sterotype that became his public and private persona.  The truth is, that you are more than just whatever talent you might posses.  If the ability to play golf, or basketball, or play the part of a superhero goes away, you are still the same person.

You need to stop ignoring the calls of your soul/spirit or heart.  You do not have to stop being who you really are inside, in order to fit into the expectations of the world.  Choose to listen to your soul.  Listen to the deepest needs of your heart.  Choose to be free of the shackles of others expectations.

“To being trustworthy?  To being successful?  How committed are you to being a good father, a good teammate, a good role model?  There’s that moment every morning when you look in the mirror:  Are You Committed, or are you not?”  – Lebron James

 

As a mom, you can feel incredible pressure to be “super woman”.  To hold down a fulltime job, and be a fulltime mom, and the sexy wife.  To have the perfect children who are the best at whatever they do.  To drive the kids to sports, to music lessons, to every extraculricular activity.  To have a spotless house with nothing out of place.  You create the weight of mountains on your shoulders and push yourself to always be doing, doing, doing.  Until that day you drop dead of exhaustion.

“20 things that women should stop wearing after the age of 30:  #1-20:  The weight of other people’s expectations and judgments.” – Maura Quint

As a dad, you can feel incredible pressure to work 80 hours a week to meet the ever upward constantly changing goals.  To convince your boss, that you are ready to take on more responsibility, you feel that you have to work longer and longer hours.  To be the last person to leave at night and the first person into the office in the morning.  They may even joke that you must sleep at work.  I always remember this line in the movie “Baby Boom” where the boss says something like “he doesn’t remember how many grandkids he has, but he knows to the cent how much money the company makes on a daily basis”.  So many men fall into the trap of working so many hours to get ahead in their career, that their family suffers from them never being around.

“Expectation feeds frustration.  It is an unhealthy attachment to people, things, and outcomes we wish we could control; but don’t” – Dr. Steve Maraboli

You are not supposed to live your life meeting the expectations of others.  You are supposed to define your own individuality.  To be your own unique person.  To follow your own path.  To choose your own adventure and strike out on the road less traveled.  Be extraordinary instead of the rat in the maze trying to find the same piece of cheese.  You are the person who gets to choose what matters and what doesn’t.  The meaning of your life is whatever you want it to mean.  It’s the meaning that you give to it that makes it your life.

“The secret to happiness and peace is letting every situation be what it is, instead of what you think it should be, and making the best of it.” – Marcandangel

As you leave behind the expectations of others to discover who you are and what’s important to you – remember to allow the same for others that you love.  When you live your life according to who you are, and don’t put the weight of expectations on others on how they should live their lives, you create the space to be happy.  You no longer feel disappointed because you “failed” to live up to the expectations of others – and, you are not disappointed by the actions of others not meeting your own expectations.  You learn to live in the world of “what is” instead of “what it should be”.

“No more expectations.  Just gonna go with the flow and whatever happens, happens”.

Going back to what Tiger Woods said, achieving some kind of “balance” in your life is what is important.  Living according to who you are, and not putting pressure on others to meet your expectations doesn’t mean “whatever happens, happens”.  It doesn’t mean that you don’t try to do better, and be better.  It doesn’t mean that you stop trying to rise to your full potential in your life.  It means that you have a good working balance between taking care of your family, and yourself – which includes your emotional, physical, financial, and spiritual good health.

I thought that this quote from Stephen Hawking was so spot on.  He said, “When one’s expectations are reduced to zero, one, really appreciates everything one does have.”  Sometimes you have  something happen in your life that changes everything.  Maybe you get a medical diagnosis of ALS like Stephen.  What you thought was important suddenly isn’t.  You are just happy that you are still alive.  You experience a freedom, that sort of says – ok, I am in the basement, the bottom of what’s possible.  Anything I achieve from now on is good, great, and better than anyone thought it could be.  Just think of everything that Stephen Hawkins accomplished from that space of “zero”.

So free yourself from the expectations of what others expect from you.  Get still and start from zero –

  • Accept that this is who you are.
  • Accept what it is that makes you happy.
  • Accept what you can be the master of – what your strengths are, your talents and skills that are so easy for you to accomplish?
  • Having balance your life, so that you have time for yourself, your family, your friends, and your spiritual beliefs and practices.
  • Put on your oxygen mask first, then help others.  You can’t help others unless you take the time to fill up your own cup first.
  • Relax, taking a deep breath and just “chill”, take the time to smell the flowers and find the beauty of nature.
Sheryl Silbaugh

I am married with 4 grown children who are all married and currently have 14 grandchildren and two great granddaughters. I work fulltime as a Director at Bank of America and I am the founder of LemonadeMakers.org, which is a website and Facebook page dedicated to personal transformation and growth. We all have life's lemons show up in our life, this website helps us to make them into lemonade.