Life can be challenging enough within the context of real-time, everyday circumstances. But add to that unexpected expectations learned over the course of a lifetime, and even the simplest of daily experiences can look and feel insurmountable.
1) Do you feel like things need to be perfect in order for you to be happy?
You may see the expectation of perfection reflected in how you see yourself, your family, your home, your job, your past, your present, your future. Rarely is anything good enough, and even when it does come close, the subsequent satisfaction is short-lived.
2) When you are upset, do you feel like it is the responsibility of others to make you feel better?
When you’re feeling bad, it feels like you’re out of control, with no way of willing yourself to feel better. Convinced only an external source can do the trick, you may lay the responsibility on those around you — family, friends, and colleagues who you expect to acknowledge, understand, and alleviate your pain.
3) When other people are the source of your pain, do you feel like it is intentional?
When you’re hurt, you may mask the pain with anger. And when you’re angry, you need someone to be angry with. The problem is, it’s tough to be angry with someone who didn’t mean to hurt you. Giving the other person the benefit of the doubt means letting go of the anger, which may be the only thing you feel is keeping you from falling apart.
4) When you cause others pain, do you feel like it is a mistake?
When people hurt you, it’s on purpose. When you hurt them, it’s an accident. Living under this set of circumstances, you are always the victim and never the one to blame .
5) Do you feel like it’s okay to break “the rules” when you are hurt or upset?
When you’re feeling bad, it can feel like the end of the world; like it will always be this way, with you enduring painful circumstances that no one ever should. Under these circumstances, you may feel entitled to behave whatever ways you can find to feel better, from lashing out at loved ones, to abusing alcohol or drugs, to illegal behaviors, all of which will only compound your problems.
6) When you’re angry, do you feel like nobody else has the right to be angry too?
Anger is a seductive emotion that can easily convince you it’s the most important and pressing thing in the world. Not even someone else’s anger can compare, especially if the person you’re angry with is angry with you too. Your anger tells you that you’re right, so their anger must be wrong.
7) Do you feel like no one works harder than you?
Whether it’s at home or on the job, it’s easy to build up resentment toward people who you don’t perceive as doing their fair share. How is it fair that you should have to do so much when they can get away with doing so little?
8) Do you feel like the people who are in your life now must make up for the pain caused by others in your past?
We all naturally have some unresolved issues lingering from relationships in our past. The danger lies in transposing these issues onto all similar relationships going forward. The irony is, you will continue to attract into your life the kind of people who treat you as you believe you deserve to be treated. This sets you up for a never-ending cycle of stop-and-go relationships in which the players may change, but your pain stays the same.
9) Do you feel like people are always taking advantage of you?
You do this, and you do that, but no one on the other end of all this “doing” seems to appreciate the fact that you can only do so much. The last thing you want to do is so “no,” so you wait for someone else to notice you’re doing too much, only they never seem to and you just keep getting roped in to doing more.
10) Do you feel like other people’s needs are more important than your own?
You pride yourself on being someone sensitive to the needs of your family, friends, and co-workers. But how long will you have to sacrifice your interests, feelings, and desires before someone notices that you have needs too?
All of these unfulfilled expectations have one thing in common — the mistaken belief that your happiness and worth is dependent on external circumstances. The key to overcoming is acknowledging the fear underneath these expectations and making choices accordingly.
Positive Affirmation: I am brave enough to understand my pain. I am strong enough to go beyond it.