Remember when you were five years old and people would ask you: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” They allowed you to dream of being a doctor or a nurse, a policeman/woman or a fire fighter, an astronaut or a teacher, a writer or a circus performer – who knows! You could be anything – you were allowed to have your own expectations back then.
And then off you go to school and it begins…the layering of other people’s expectations of you and on you begin to build. The process of accepting and living up to expectations that were never your own, that you may never have really wanted and didn’t know you could object to, and that you never actually chose for yourself. You most likely heard about what was expected of you so often that you began to believe that that was what you needed to do or become in this life as if you did choose it!
- Parents who meant well wanted you to be the person they did not become, do the things they didn’t get to do, have more than they had, be more than they were. Yikes!
- Teachers expected you to learn at a certain pace, to grasp so many new concepts, to do well at all subjects. ‘You gotta get good grades to get to university to get a good job’…..sowing the seeds of academic competition and the fears of the consequences of not doing well. Gulp!
- Peer pressure mounted as you found your circle of friends and needed so much to fit in that you did things, said things and maybe even wore things that were really not you. Gotta be in the ‘In-Crowd’
- You watched the adverts, saw the TV programmes, read the magazine ads that portray perfect people with dream lives and you got the impression that that’s how life should be – be smart, beautiful and demanding of others the world will be at your feet. Ouch!
- As you got older you took on the additional roles of parent and carer, employee or boss, aunt/uncle, husband/wife, and attempt to live up to the great expectations of every single role all at the same time. You began the art of juggling and the pressure mounted as perfection set in.
It happens so subtly and so gradually throughout your life that you hardly notice each one of someone else’s expectations adding another layer and wonder why life starts to feel like hard work as you continually carry around the burden and you feel weighed down by life.
Stop! Take a step back and start to question – Who am I really? Am I living up to my own expectations or those of the people around me? Often you believe things simply because some one said it so many times you accepted it as a truth but it doesn’t make it so! You have a choice! If it feels bad being you right now, the chances are that’s because you are not being who you really are.
Now is the time to set your own standards so that you can be sure that you are living up to your own expectations from now on. How do you do that? Take a few minutes to write down every thing that you believe about yourself as a parent and carer, employee or boss, aunt/uncle, husband/wife, son/daughter, friend, student etc. In all of those roles we have. Who are you emotionally and in your values too?
Next ask ‘Is that something I chose or did someone else give me that identity?’ Cross out all of the things that you did not choose and do not want to be from now on. Leave everything that you love about you and that you are choosing to be true and add to it. Add to it all the things that are great about you that you haven’t thought about or acknowledged for a long time. Things like: ‘Im funny, caring, generous, creative, determined, loving, honest etc.’
The two most powerful words in the English language are “I AM” – they dictate your identity and the unconscious mind has no choice but to be congruent with the identity or the “I am’s” that you give it. Give yourself the gift of the ‘I am’s’ that you choose. Write your new identity out and keep it with you. Begin the day reading it and imagining it is you and notice how great it feels as you begin to be the person you really were all along. Remind yourself often of the great things about you and your confidence and self esteem with grow. Put the burden of other people’s expectations down and move forward feeling light and free and enjoy being who YOU are. You’ll discover that life is a whole new adventure!