We all have expectations of ourselves because we continue to strive for a state of constant happiness. It might be something like having that perfect family meal or losing an incredible amount of weight. But there are times when our own expectations exceed what is practical, or do not fall under what we have control over. So how do you let go of unrealistic expectations?
Be more flexible
Having exceedingly high expectations requires you to be constantly micromanaging all the various aspects of your life. Inevitably, no matter how well you plan, your plans will fall through. For example, if I could not be flexible with my gym schedule, I would not go at all (very tempting!).
In a perfect world I would only go in the morning, but life is far from perfect. But this doesn’t just pertain to scheduling, it could be a bad hair day. My daughter is getting to that age where a bad hair day is synonymous with the end of the world, or at least not wanting to go to school. So she learned how to do her hair in a different way when she has a bad hair day.
Try to See the Humor
No matter how grim life may feel at the moment, humor can be found in any situation. At the very least, humor will aide you when you need to de-stress. For example, if you have the expectation to find a date for this Friday, even though you do not have any dating prospects, you may be setting yourself up for failure. There is no shortage of single life humor on the internet to find and cheer you up. As a single dad, I have found this helps immensely because there are so many people who feel like you do.
Imagine Someone Else
If you are trying to lose weight, but you are not seeing any change on the scale, it can be a huge kick to the ego. Particularly if you have a long ways to go in your fitness journey. But imagine if you had a friend who was obese and starting crying in your arms because they could not lose weight. Your response wouldn’t be, “go eat a bucket of chicken fatty!” So why would you think that about yourself. You don’t hold this expectation for others, so you should not hold this same expectation for yourself.
Although compassion is usually considered an outward trait, to let go of unrealistic expectations we need to be compassionate to ourselves. We are going to fail some aspects in our lives. A high school quarterback may think himself a star player, until he throws his first interception. This might be a blow to his ego, but if he lets this affect him, the whole game might be lost. By understanding that there are times when we will fail our own expectations, we need the compassion to forgive ourselves and to keep going for the end zone.
This is perhaps the hardest thing for us to do in terms of personal expectations. Ultimately, there is very little we have control over. If a young woman has the expectation to be everyone’s best friend, it can be a serious blow to her self-esteem when someone doesn’t like her. I could make the best first impression, but that doesn’t mean someone else will want to be my friend. We need to learn to accept that there are many things we cannot control so we can let go of unrealistic expectations.