I am an expert in expectations.
I have a lot of them- for myself, for others. And it’s a problem.
The Buddha said “attachment is the root of all suffering.” And let me tell you, we all suffer. Sure, some are survivors of much bigger suffering, but it is universal. We are all going through something, right?
A lot of this attachment comes from expectation. We expect certain results, or we expect people to act a certain way, or we expect ourselves to reach certain goals. If expectations are not met, we become angry, bitter, anxious, doubting. Think about the last time you didn’t meet your own expectations. You were likely filled with self doubt, believing that you were not good enough.
When we’re trying to “get healthy,” we often set goals for ourselves. Goal setting can be incredibly powerful, charging us up, focusing us in a direction, and propelling us forward into a cause. However, we so often turn this goal into an expectation, that if not met, we are failures. We do not see what we accomplish and learn about ourselves along the way. What’s worse, is when we stop part way because we aren’t meeting our own expectations in our journey.
A great example of this that I often see is with the Whole30. I’ve seen participants be thrilled with the non-scale victories they’ve achieved, list all their new Food Freedom skills, and celebrate the achievement of doing something good for their bodies for 30 straight days. And then they climb on the scale. There was an internalized expectation that they would lose x amount of weight on the program, despite the Whole30 not being a weight loss diet.
I have done this. It happened during my second Whole30. I stepped on the scale and had only lost five pounds. FIVE POUNDS?! All that work and “ONLY” five pounds? What did I do wrong?
That’s over a pound lost per week, and yet I still jumped down my own throat about it. Suddenly, I’d forgotten all the other amazing things I’d done that month. Sad right?
How often do you do that?
We hold an attachment to a certain outcome, and when that expectation isn’t met, we are failures. Except that we’re NOT. We know that this is the logically the truth, but so often this stands in the way of gratitude, joy, and feeling successful, despite the outcome.
So how do we stop this? How do we keep our expectations in check so that we can celebrate ourselves and our achievements, no matter the results? Here are a few of my top strategies:
Create smaller goals.
Stop biting off more than you can chew right now and meet yourself where you are! If you want to run a marathon, you don’t just sign up for a marathon, lace up your shoes, and head out. No! You start by taking walks, increasing mileage, adding in short runs, gradually working up to running a mile, and finally increasing mileage. Create teeny tiny goals to keep you going in the right direction. It will keep you from burning out and hold expectations in check.
Give yourself grace.
Quit holding yourself to that perfect standard. I get it- if you’re not doing it “perfectly,” why bother, right? WRONG. Sometimes life will get in the way, and that is OK. Get back up again, forgive yourself, and move forward. You can’t shame yourself to success!
Check inward to see what you actually need. We can be so much more successful, if we just work with what we have in the moment. I challenge you to check in with your body, mind, and spirit every day this week. Ask yourself what you need and if it aligns with your current goal. If it is, great! If what you need is something completely different, then so be it. You’ll accomplish so much more when you don’t fight against your needs.
Get clear on your why.
This is so important. I need you to get really clear on why you’re doing something. If you’re doing something just because society says that you should, you’re simply just trying to meet expectations. For example, if you’ve spent most of your life wanting to lose weight, I want you to ask yourself why. Chances are, it’s rooted in something a bit deeper than “I want to be healthy” or “I want to be more active.”
Detach with love.
Finally, it’s time to detach from your expectations. Get super clear on why succeeding at this thing is important to you. Are you basing your self worth in your results? Will you feel like an unworthy human begin if you don’t meet the goal? Things may get a little uncomfortable here, but it is 100% worth it. Remember, attachment is suffering. Take back your power. You can release its control over your life.