On a daily basis, it’s easier to feel the stress from the expectations of our jobs and our relationships, than it is to tract the internal pressure from our self-expectations. What we expect from ourselves can create a growing tension behind the scenes of our busy lives.
“Deadline” is a term that has come to mean “time limit” to mark when a task must be completed or a product is due. But the word “deadline” originates from Confederate prisons during the United States Civil War, which was the name for a perimeter life around a prison where prisoners would be shot for crossing that line. It amuses me that we use such a brutal, high stakes word to describe the due date for everyday tasks and work projects. But in another way, the word is fitting, because we all have the capacity to be very hard on ourselves if we miss a deadline. We can stress to much about not getting things done, and even catastrophize the situations of our lives, imagining more severe consequences than what will actually happen. When we miss a deadline, we can internally barrage ourselves with criticism. But what if the problem isn’t your ability to get things done, rather you are just being to hard on yourself? Is it possible that your self-expectations are too high?
Fear of failure can be the emotional force behind the pressure we feel from our deadlines. When we don’t meet our self expectations by a certain time, we can get hard on ourselves. If you monitor the self talk in your mind, you may hear all sorts of harsh dialogue about not performing fast enough. You can feel emotionally low when you let someone else down. But a timeline of goals is meant to organize our lives and to give us a structure for step by step success. When we expect too much of ourselves, our timeline for our goals will be too aggressive and challenging. We can become overwhelmed emotionally, which actually can actually slow down our ability to get tasks completed and is counter productive.
Our internal emotional needs also have deadlines of a sort. When our emotional needs for nurture, validation, encouragement, and empathy go unmet for too long a period of time, we become edgy and cynical. We can begin to feel helpless and emotionally fatigued, because we didn’t get enough of our own needs met to complete the tasks we took on. Most people tend to focus on the deadlines that have some type of consequence in our external lives, which can lead to neglecting our own emotional needs.
When we arrive in this dismal state of being, it’s time to soften your expectations on how productive you will be in your outer life, and begin to tune into the missed deadlines for your inner life. Our inner emotional deadlines don’t often make it onto our daily checklist of “Things to Do”. Rarely does a coworker burst into an ongoing meeting, screaming, “It’s almost 5pm and I’m about to miss my deadline. I didn’t get my daily hug. Quick. Emergency Group Hug…now!”
Here’s my weekly challenge for you. Look at your “Things To Do” list and take one task off your list for at least one of your days. Then use the extra time to stop, breathe, and thank yourself for working so hard. See how you feel afterwards and share your experience in the comments.
My New Book, Healing Our Bloodlines: The 8 Realizations of Generational Liberation, will be out on Amazon on Tues. Sept 3rd, 2019. Join me for my Live Online Book Launch Sep. 3rd at 6pm PT/9pm ET on IG Live and FB Live
2 thoughts on “Softer Self Expectations”
George, this is a fantastic post. We are, indeed, our worst enemies when it comes to getting stuff done. We feel pressure that, most likely, doesn’t exist.
Thanks Cristian. Glad the post inspired your insights!