Wednesday, January 2, 2008

More on Expectations

I've done a couple of posts before Christmas about our expectations of life or others. In the first one Setting Ourselves Up for Disappointment
fallen angels commented The expectations we place on ourself(ves)are the worst (I'm speaking of we as a system, not the universal "we"). She is absolutely right. The expectations we (victims and survivors alike) place on ourselves are usually the worst!

Unrealistic expectations of ourselves (and others) are another one of those characteristics of survivors of abuse. It just seems to go hand in hand with feeling that somehow we could've, should've, would've. It's easier to believe that being victimized was somehow our fault. So it's easier to believe that we must somehow make it up to those in our lives.

The only way to do that, we tell ourselves, is to somehow be perfect. Or maybe we need to be better, bigger, stronger, more successful whatever it might be to quiet that voice down deep inside that screams how inadequate we are.

In our constant attempts to be ok we tend to give ourselves deadlines we can never meet, challenges it would take a saint to fill, or goals that couldn't be accomplished in two lifetimes. Because no human being could ever meet these goals, we fail, thus proving to ourselves, yet again that we are worthless.

It is a self deprecating cycle that needs to be stopped if we are ever to heal. Learning how to scale these expectations down into something that is reasonable can be a task in itself. Being victims we really have no true measure of what "realistic expectations" are. How can we do this without even an idea of a starting point.

For me it came down to looking at what I was expecting from others as well as what I expected from myself. If I was expecting too much from others and I was expecting twice as much from me, then it was pretty clear that I was really overboard on my expectations of myself. And it opened the door that maybe I was being unrealistic about what I expected from others.

Being able to see that I was applying a double standard helped me to begin to look for another way to do things. Making sure that I wasn't setting myself up in the first place with my unrealistic expectations became an important part of setting limits for myself. With expectations more withing my reach, I found I could be successful after all.


Kahless said...

Day 1 back to work and I decided what I wanted to accomplish in the day but only achieved 1/2 of it.

Then I thought, well I need to set myself goals and I didnt think I had hardly set myself something challenging. Yet i couldnt achieve it.

Then I read your post.

Then I thought maybe I shouldn't measure myself on number of 'jobs' or 'items of work' achieved, maybe I should say to myself
'today I will spend 1 hour doing task x and 1 hour doing task y.' That should be easier to achieve maybe and have the same result.

keepers said...

we agree, the unrealistic goals we set for ourselves stemmed in our case from never being good enough for mom and dad, maybe if we were better they would love us, but we did not figure out the folly in our goals for a very long time. We tried to please everyone to keep them in our lives, also to no avail, it is indeed a very difficult thing or two to realize and then adjust our behavior for this upbringing

peace and blessings


Rising Rainbow said...

kahless, I have to laugh, I know exactly what you mean.

I have done the same thing now of putting a time on what I want to accomplish instead of a set amount. That helps me to know what a resonable amount to accomplish is.

keepers, yes, that trap of never being good enough that just drove us to try harder and harder and to believe we failed because of us, not because there was no pleasing them. So sad.

Angeline said...

To me, simple logic...treat others the way you want to be treated. expect nothing from anyone to avoid disappointments.

as for self-expectations? first, you've got to know yourself well enough to even impose any expectations.

expectations and goals either push you forward or make you a 'poorer' person.

so first, if you don't even understand your own limits well enough, don't even try to set any expectations on yourself.

This only leads to disappointment in yourself, 'cos all those expectations will be unattainable ones.

But if you know yourself well enough, your goals will be a pushing force to let you attain the level you wish for.

so good luck in self-discovery, its part of life and I am enjoying mine now.

April_optimist said...

One of the things that made a difference for me was realizing that every time I hesitated it was because there was a reason--NOT that I was flawed. I realized that hesitation was always grounded in something important and that if I honored that and looked for a way that addressed the reason for the hesitation THEN I could move forward--and usually in a better way than if I'd just tried to force myself. Plus, of course, life is just more fun now that I'm not longer constantly berating myself over perceived flaws!

Kahless said...

If you havent another post in mind, I would be really interested in your thoughts on how someone can practically take steps to improve their self esteem.

Anonymous said...

scaling expectations down are hard, we are trying to do that ourself and that is really hard. so i can only imagine what it may be like for you. the cycle can be devastating, but we want to tell you something, all the system is included:

"you are perfect just the way you are. you are strong, brave, courageous, unique, one-of-a-kind, and most importantly ... you."

sorry we just had to sasy that ...

Rising Rainbow said...

Angeline, welcome to my blog. I am glad that you are in a place that you can enjoy your self discovery.

april_optimist, yes, learning to trust ourselves in an important part of the process.

kahless, there are entire books written on improving one's self esteem. The thought of a post seems pretty inadequate to me but I'll see what I can come up with.

miniquecrew, thank you, all victims could do well to remember that.