Releasing Yourself from Expectations

I just found a quote in a journal (I had written it in all caps) from January 2018 that reads, “MOVE FORWARD, RELEASED FROM THE PRISON OF EXPECTATIONS.” Nearby on the page is a quote that I attributed to Glennon Doyle, so maybe this one also came from her? I am not sure, but what I do know is that it’s hitting right now. A couple of Sundays ago, I was meal-prepping or getting ready to workout, or some other kind of activity that I felt I “should” be doing and wondered out loud, “why do I always feel the need to be doing something?” I wonder who else suffers from this…

The “prison” is definitely one of my own making. I believe I wrote that the same month I started seeing a therapist. I was dealing with some extremely difficult situations at school in addition to just trying to learn to be a principal. In my first year as a principal I kept the same level of high expectations I had for myself to be a great leader and top-notch in every other area of my life (home, family, health) as I would if I had been a principal for years. Looking back now, I see how this expectation is the one that created additional stress beyond the circumstances themselves.

I felt like the very traits that make me good at my job are the same ones that make me drive myself crazy.

This “prison” is not exactly perfectionism. I just have this drive that I have to do everything 100 percent, full out, and be at my personal best in all areas. It’s not that I have to execute everything perfectly, but I expect myself to always be working toward my personal best.

This wondering of “why I always feel the need to be doing something” spiraled into a week of no workouts and a couple of nights of Netflix binging with a bottle of wine per binge. hmmm. Interesting.

Here’s the good news. After that week, I can see that I have made some progress in my thinking since 2018. I didn’t mentally berate myself for taking a break. Instead I tried to “Ted Lasso” my behavior by looking at it with curiosity instead of judgement. (You Ted Lasso fans know what I mean) 🙂 So that’s progress! So after that, I wondered if I needed to look at what I consider balance a little differently.

Before, my definition of balance meant that I was able to balance all aspects of my life, doing each area with equal gusto, effort, and success. Great Mom and Great Leader, in Great Shape, and Spiritually Sound, Ummm…just writing that now makes me realize how silly that is. Now I think, “I need to rest.” period. whatever that looks like. (Lately for me, that’s one Netflix episode and one glass of wine). Of course with my personality I felt the need to schedule these periods of rest, put expectations on them, and make them part of a routine (insert eyeroll emoji here). Oh, well.


maybe Glennon?

I can see how loosening my grip on myself can actually move me forward…I am actually making more progress with my health and fitness habits in the weeks following my week off than I did previously. At any rate, I wonder if anyone else can see themselves in this scenario. If so, I’d love to hear from you!

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