Feeling pressured and overwhelmed with tasks and expectations? It’s one of the most common side-effects of the active busy life most of us live. In my coaching practice, I keep seeing this again and again – amazing people doing amazing things, feeling overwhelmed and not finding space to do what they’d really like to be doing.
In a whirlwind of many things happening, our brain has a tendency to go into ‘responsive mode’. It’s entire focus shifts outside in order to handle the influx of things flying our way. As soon as we find some time for ourselves, the questions start coming up: “Is this how life is supposed to be?”, “How about this thing that I want to do?”, “What about my health? What about my relationship?”, “What have I actually done today”, “Why am I doing this?”. Oftentimes we come out feeling a resolve to do things differently tomorrow. Only to find ourselves back in the whirlwind.
So how do we resolve this? As everything else, it’s good to look at the reason why we feel that pressure. I’ve found that one of the most common causes of it is a fear of letting others down, of failing other people’s expectations. Those expectations become like a fence, defining the borders of how far we can go and what we can do. At least for the time being, because one day the gate will open and we will be free. The trouble is that years can pass until we decide to test that gate. And find that the gate was actually always open.
Here’s some food for thought that might help you open the gate if you find yourself in such a pressured situation.
- Is this really what they are expecting? Oftentimes we assume others are expecting something from us when they are not. It’s a natural mechanism – as we get deeper into responsive mode, we lose sight of the big picture and get buried in the details. As a result, we often end up feeling like we have to get a huge elephant-sized pile of work done, when what’s truly important to the other person is just a small piece of that (or sometimes, something completely different). In order to overcome this bias, it’s good to build a habit of actually checking with the other person what they want and what’s most important for them.
- Who is actually creating other’s expectations of you? This is actually a much more important question than the first one. Because it’s ‘other’s expectations’, it’s easy to think they are ‘other’s’ and therefore outside of our control. But that’s far from true. Think about it – how did those people get to have those expectations of you? There’s two ways – either you told them to expect this from you or you didn’t tell them that you are not going to do it. You created those expectations by the way you communicated with them. But why would you create such expectations if that’s not really what you want to be doing? Let’s go down another layer and see what happens.
- What are you expecting of yourself? It’s actually very easy to find out – the expectations you communicated (or not) to others are actually your own expectations towards yourself. That’s where all expectations begin – inside of you. Everyone else simply reflects the standards you set for yourself. When you acknowledge and bring consciousness to your inner critic, he can be a source of power, holding a clear image of what you want and how you want it. If you leave him unattended, he just does his thing without direction, applying his high standards to whatever flies your way. And if you acknowledge that probably only 20% of what flies your way is really important for you, you can imagine the kind of chaos that you can generate in your life by not taking that importance into account. Then it becomes clear why you don’t have time for what you really want to be doing.
So what can you do with all this? Simply reminding yourself that you are the one that creates all expectations of you can go a long way.
If you want to go further, write down your own list of tasks and expectations and look at them. Include things that you haven’t even started yet, but you really want to do. Then divide your list into 3 categories – things you let go of/stop doing right now, things you choose to allocate less attention to and things to give more attention to. If the word ‘expectations’ is bugging you (for many of us it’s a very charged word), come up with your new term (‘inspired actions’, ‘acts of consciousness’, ‘little ponies’ – whatever does it for you). To get your body and subconscious on your side, make sure you really feel into the freedom of letting go of those boundaries, indulging in the joy of creating your new kingdom/queendom, as you like it.
If you have some questions or want some feedback, send them over! I’d be happy to have a look, free of charge.
About Lessons in Paradise
I believe we already are in paradise, regardless of where we are and what’s going on in our lives. I believe life is a journey towards becoming aware of this and enjoying as much of it as we can in the limited amount of time we have here. The ‘Lessons in Paradise’ vlog is the space where I share my process of shedding patterns and beliefs that obstruct our view in order to replace them with presence, joy and wonder. It’s also my invitation to you – an invitation to connect and journey together in creative ways, as we help each other see through to the greatest expression of ourselves. I also love creating spaces for growth-oriented people to connect to their soul power and life purpose. I do that in the form of coaching and workshops. Reach out if you feel called to explore these topics with me.