As humans we naturally respond well to praise and reward based behaviours. It feels good to make those that matter to us proud. To have people talk about you with smiles on their faces and light in their eyes. We don’t want to disappoint or upset those close to us, which can sometimes result in sacrificing the things we love and enjoy for the things we know hold more value to those close to us.
This whole process of unlearning and freeing myself of expectations, made me feel like I was going backwards instead of forwards. I had to ask myself what is it that I like, what do I enjoy? All things I believed at my age I should already be able to confidently identify, but I find myself a little lost for words. Then I get frustrated because it almost feels like wasted time. Time wasted on things that others will clap for, but if given another option I would have chosen a different path.
Give Yourself Permission
This journey has taught me to say no more often and to give myself permission to do what I need to do without guilt or apologizing. This has been difficult as I am a bit of a people pleaser and I was used to meeting the needs of others without checking on me. I have to make sure I am good first, before agreeing to meet the needs of others, without feeling guilty.
Freeing yourself from your own expectations can be harder than others at times, I think it has a lot to do with putting pressure on ourselves to reach this level of Self-actualization by a certain age, so that the real part of our lives can begin. But we can still live fulfilling and enjoyable lives whilst going through the not so fun parts of our lives.
“Self-actualization can be thought of as the full realization of one’s creative, intellectual, or social potential.” – Positive Psychology Program
Letting go of others expectations is not easy, especially when it is attached to so many other things, you wonder where do you even start? When your self esteem is low, your voice is low due to fear, fear of the unknown and making the wrong move. We are constantly taught that failure is not an option, especially when “you have to work twice as hard” is a cultural motto we are used to hearing.
Freeing yourself from any expectations has to start with you prioritizing what matter most to you and then filtering out anything that doesn’t matter. This can be a lengthy process, especially with the additional cultural, religious, social and parental expectations.