#118 Lower Your Expectations

Expectations need to be clear and verbalized when they exist and in order for that to happen, they need to be in our awareness.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#118

Lower your expectations

It has been said that the single quickest way to obtain a sense of happiness is to lower your expectations – allowing most of the disappointment you feel to disappear. You see, when we experience disappointment, it’s due almost exclusively to an expectation that wasn’t met.

Here are a few areas where high expectations can make life more difficult:

  1. Expectations for perfection
  2. Expectations for people to think like ‘me’.
  3. A belief that there’s only one way – the right way – and an expectation for people to adopt that belief.
  4. An expectation for people to ‘do what I do’.
  5. An expectation to avoid confrontation.
  6. An expectation to control what’s outside of your authority.
  7. An expectation for people to define things like you do.

Each one of those items can be applied to an almost limitless list of examples in the average person’s day to day life.

We are raised with expectations, we are required to meet expectations at our place of employment, and we are constantly exposed to social expectations. The challenge of determining which ones are appropriate to meet and which ones we can dismiss can be overwhelming. Some of us – in light of this – try to meet them all… often with disastrous consequences to our mental health.

Generally speaking, consider the ones that do NOT fall into any of the above categories. Then, take a look at which of the remaining ones are a priority to YOU. Meeting those expectations at work may be necessary if you want to generate an income that sustains your lifestyle yet making your bed every morning may be a leftover from mom.

Meeting expectations feels good but failing to hit the mark generally, does not. If you are going to establish expectations, make sure they are reachable for the people to whom they apply. It may be too big of a goal for your C student to get straight A’s next semester. Expectations need to be clear and verbalized when they exist and in order for that to happen, they need to be in our awareness. Many of us have subconscious expectations that are represented by idea’s of ‘should’.

Discover your subconscious expectations easily by recording those things that are ‘should’s’ in your life… you’ll be amazed. Only then can you make the decision to know when for what you can …

Lower your expectations.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Solid Foundation

This is how the story of my life begins; idyllic and fun. It’s the first 12 years of my life and it provided me with an unshakable foundation. Thank goodness because I ended up needing it.

I distinctly remember childhood as a pleasant time. I grew up in a small town in the Pennsylvania Mountains where everyone knew your name. Of course, it was a blessing and a curse because IF I had wanted to get into a little mischief, my parents would have been told and a punishment planned before I ever got home. Just the threat of that generally kept me in check. There were dozens of children within a two block radius and summer evenings were filled with playing hide-n-seek with all. It was one of those evenings in my 9th year when I got my first kiss as NJ and I were hiding together. It was as innocent as my mischievousness but allowed a multitude of diary entries that proclaimed a lifelong love and extreme anticipation whenever I saw him crossing the street or pushing the mower across his lawn.

I had two very close friends and the crossing guard dubbed us the three stooges early one school year. We were inseparable. If we weren’t experimenting with popcorn or playing cards, we were outdoors using our imagination or riding our bicycles down to Henry’s Drug store for ice cream. Monopoly marathon weekends were common. It was a childhood experience similar to those on television without the drama. Well, as is typical with a threesome, there were times that any combination of two were better ‘buddies’ for the week but when it was all said and done, we were three. We shared all of the distinctive adolescent ‘firsts’ and giggled about what would happen when we grew up and fell in love. We shared the death of grandparents, marriages of older siblings, and held strong when visiting cousins tried to interfere with our agenda.

I was the kind of kid that got up on Saturday mornings and did all of the chores that I thought my mother may include on my list so that I was ready to get out and play as soon as possible. The regiment generally included dusting, making my bed, and scrubbing the bathtub – all of which were fairly tolerable. It is safe to say that I was a parent-pleaser. My subconscious but occasionally blatant goal was to hear “good job” or “we’re proud of you” as frequently as possible. I thrived on praise and was instantly heartbroken on the few occasions that my father calmly and sternly offered a consensus of “we’re disappointed”.

I desperately wanted to be a Go-Go Girl like the ones on American Bandstand and coveted a pair of white knee-high boots. Unfortunately for that inspiration, I was half a decade too young and overly conscious of my parent’s necessity for frugality. I was lucky to get a new pair of sneakers each school year. We weren’t poor exactly. For most of my early academic years, my father had a steady job with Proctor & Gamble and mom had a hair salon in the back room of our home. We didn’t take annual vacations or have elaborate holidays but really, I didn’t notice. We always had what we needed.

dancerina
1969 Ad for Dancerina. Holy Cow what a great example of gender biased advertising. Yikes!

I vaguely recall threatening to ‘run away’ if Santa didn’t bring Dancerina (a battery operated doll that did pirouettes when you pushed down on her crown). She was the only gift under the tree for me that year but again, I didn’t notice because I was tucked into a quiet corner wearing out two new double-D’s.  I sometimes experienced a whispering sense of shame for the childish and obnoxious threat but it was quickly over spoken with the knowledge that I was the recipient of that year’s most coveted girl toy. There was no such thing as a Christmas ‘list’ – we were allowed to dream of ONE item… and more often than not, we were not disappointed.

My mother gave me the gift of believing that I was her favorite child. I’m sure I was not but that debate continues in the family today and nevertheless, it allowed me to develop a confidence that parental love was unconditional and abiding. She was, in my youthful perspective, a beautiful woman and had the gift of ‘gab’. She was always involved in a craft project of some type, trying a new recipe, or volunteering for some committee. I am sure her beauty salon perpetrated the ‘gab’ factor but the end result was that I observed what it was to have a wide reaching social network.

My father was tall – Abraham Lincoln tall – standing 6 foot 9 inches and had a crazy long stride. My walks with him consisted of me at a slight run as it took three of my steps to match his one. It never mattered though; my dad was my hero. He smoked a pipe of cherry tobacco and wore Old Spice for as long as I can remember; scents that instantly provide me with a sense of longing today. Dad was a dreamer. He allowed me to dream and made sure that I knew I was capable of chasing them.

I am the oldest sibling and had to share my early childhood with a sister who inevitably crawled into bed with me at night. The most disturbing part of that was that she wore socks and every time our feet would touch, the sensation of something soft and fuzzy tricked me into believing that a critter was at the bottom of our bed. It was difficult to move through the ‘monsters under the bed’ phase when every night it felt as if they were IN the bed. On more than one occasion I recall taking a running leap into bed as to prevent whatever was under there from reaching out.

dressed-up-pat
I’m pretty sure that’s a half-slip on his head.

Our little brother was born right about the time that dolls and ‘playing house’ (do kids do that these days??) were the focus of my past time. His first friends were all of my plastic babies that kept him company in the playpen. While it was easier to dress them because they held still, I attempted to attire him with doll clothing far too often. Mom was convinced that he would grow up scarred.  I loved that kid.I couldn’t have been more proud of him than if he had been mine.

This is how the story of my life begins; idyllic and fun. It’s the first 12 years of my life and it provided me with an unshakable foundation. Thank goodness because I ended up needing it. It is the basis from which I developed optimism, hope, and ultimately – some unrealistic expectations. It supports the standards that govern my life view and helped to foster some of the perfectionism that hasn’t necessarily been a positive force for me.

I am NOT complaining, in fact I am deeply grateful for that start to life. It is however, necessary to look back and see realistically, how some of my grown up ideologies were developed. Understanding and awareness are the first step to growth.

Hello… This is Leslyn

For years (and I’m sure to write more about that) I’ve been led to write. I have much to say. Not only about my life – the details and the lessons – but about what I am still unsettled about and the questions that continue to expose themselves.

I’m the one on the right. On the left is my youngest beauty as she headed off to Europe for a semester of study. I am smiling because she is embarking on a phenomenal journey; the experience of a lifetime. Inside I am much more pensive. She is my baby. I know she is ready, she is adventurous and has been saving / preparing for this trip ever since she got a taste of Europe in high school on a French class trip to Paris and southern France. She has planned side trips and packed efficiently. I wanted to say “stay, move home, and never leave” but that was only a tiny voice; the one that tries to keep me tied to the past or to my fears of the unknown. I know I’ve done my job and that she is well equipped to explore the world and study hard. That’s the story of the photo…. for my first post I want to be more profound.

This entire project is a product of the universe and its recent messages to me.  It was very simply – START.

For years (and I’m sure to write more about that) I’ve been led to write. I have much to say. Not only about my life – the details and the lessons – but about what I am still unsettled about and the questions that continue to expose themselves. I’ve been afraid. For all the reasons that Elizabeth Gilbert speaks about in her recent best seller Big Magic – I’ve not started. In her book, she challenges readers to “have courage to bring forth the treasures within you”.  Shortly after completing that read I moved on to Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly for the second time but this time heard “Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

Ok… universe I am listening!! I am ‘daring greatly’ by making the commitment to expose my thoughts, my life, and most importantly, my imperfect self for the world to see. I am somewhat unique in my counseling practice in that when it is appropriate, I share some of my personal experiences. I believe in the power of universality – knowing that we are not alone in the world or in our struggles. I feel confident that the majority of my clients experience my ‘humanness’ in a positive way and I hope that the same applies here. I have struggled with imperfection even when the intellectual part of myself could clearly see that perfection was an impossible goal.

As I thought about this blog, the perfectionist in me wanted the “perfect” name – the one that would be ‘catchy’, or draw in gazillions of readers. What in the world defines that?? How am I to know what you all want? I sat on GoDaddy for an hour entering name after name, seeking something original.  I came up with a short list and sent a text or two to my people for their input….

“I’m finally starting that blog I’ve been talking about and need a name. Here’s a list… what’s your vote?”

My people responded with different preferences. Shit. No help. Think Leslyn – Think. What feels authentic to you? What sounds catchy? I slept on it. I woke up this morning with the reminder on my heart that this blog really isn’t about anyone but me… it’s my blog – my thoughts, my life, my words. It doesn’t matter how ‘catchy’ it is….

My phone rang and as usual, I answered.  “Hi, This is Leslyn…..” That’s it! I immediately realized that the most authentic thing I have done today is answer the phone in a way that identifies me to a prospective client. That’s me. Leslyn.

I have struggled a lifetime with a name that is different from everyone else. I realized at some point in the last 30 years that it allowed me to feel different.  It’s taken me some time and some work to feel authentic with the name “Leslyn” so there it was – so incredibly obvious…. This is Leslyn. (pronounced LESS LYN)

My promise to myself and to anyone who happens to be reading is that I will be authentically me here in this space. I am ‘daring greatly’ by publishing here but I am grateful and excited that the time has come for me to experience vulnerability in this way. I hope you will walk with me.