Great Expectations

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I’ve been thinking a lot about expectations since I heard Tony Robbins talk about “trading expectations for appreciation”. He said that it had been a game changing practice within his personal relationships. He talked about the way in which he was able to let go of the tension around his expectations and simply be present with the other person. The substitution of appreciation expanded the space for both of them.

The idea intrigued me and I started playing around with the concept in my own relationships. I did my best to stay mindful in the moment and yet, the “substitute appreciation for toleration” started to feel like a ‘should’ for me ~ another note on a list of things I need to do. When activities stray into the ‘should do’s’ for me, my own red flag is raised and it becomes uncomfortable.

It wasn’t until I had conversations with two women living in different countries within the span of 5 hours that I began to consider this quote in a new way. In each of my conversations, the topic of self-expectations rang out loud and clear. The women’s stories may have had different content; however, the magnitude of their own expectations of self was undeniable.

I believe that there are few people more weighted with expectations than we are for and from ourselves. This is particularly true for women. It may be that men experience a sense of great expectations of self; however, I may only speak to my personal experience with them. And, I have a number of ‘sister’ women whom I have observed filling their plates with self-expectations.

I considered how I might be of service to them and that’s when the quote popped into my head. I wondered…..what if? What if I tweaked Tony’s line and added the word ‘self’ twice? What if I invited them to consider the following: “Trade your self-expectations for self-appreciation”? What if that is how we might start dealing with Tony’s invitation to transform relationships? What if we started at the beginning ~ with our relationship to ourselves?

As I listened to each woman, I could hear the intensity of their self-expectation and pain of their self-judgment when they fell short. The overlay of negativity for self was almost palpable and it was time to shift that.

So, I offered a challenge to each of them. When they became aware of a self-expectation playing in their mind, I asked them to stop ~ stop in their tracks, stop their talking, stop whatever they were doing ~ and acknowledge the self-expectation. And then? Well, I invited them to offer up a word of self-appreciation in its’ place. They each agreed to give it a whirl.

I felt good. I felt as though I had been of use ~ my learnings had somehow served them with the invitation to experiment with this level of self-awareness. And that’s when it occurred to me. Things generally happen in threes and I had just shared this idea with two women. How curious that I was able to offer this up as an experiment.Was I using it myself? Nope. Clearly, I was the third.

And so, I’ve been playing with it. Let me tell you, up front, this is not a graceful exercise for me. I am doing well with noticing when I am hearing/feeling and expectations of self and I am stopping in the moment. As for the substitution of an appreciation piece? Well, let’s simply say that I am a work in progress. Isn’t it curious that we are easily able to think of words of appreciation for others and yet it is challenging for self?

I am well-practiced with the negative observations of self ~ now it’s time for me to practice a new way of being. I am doing my best to be gentle with myself. I am leaving space for swapping an appreciation for an expectation. What if I traded self-expectation for self-appreciation? What if? What if, instead of beating myself up for not meeting an unrealistic expectation, I took a moment to appreciate myself? To acknowledge what I did do, what I did accomplish and how I showed up fully in my own life. What if?

It’s early days for me; however, I am noticing a change in the tides of my relationship to myself. I’ll have to let you know how I am progressing with it! Are you ready to join me?

Curiosity Cue:

What if you traded your self-expectations for self-appreciation? What if, right now, you took a moment to jot down five things you appreciate about yourself? What if? It’s good to be prepared!!

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This post was written by megan