If I have Great Expectations of others, I have even Greater Expectations of myself. Where I am apt to extend grace and understanding to others if they fall short, my go-to reaction to my own short-comings are anything but. I was talking (read: whining) to my sponsor the other day about just such a response to myself. This usually happens when I “should” on myself: “I should be better, stronger, thinner, happier, richer and definitely more spiritual, more motivated, more joyful, more peaceful and more loving by now!” I am not sure why “now” is when I “should” be all those things, except that my expectations of what my circumstances and my character should look like might be a tad bid too high. Too unrealistic.
Perhaps some of these expectations are created when I compare my insides with other people’s outsides. Or, as I heard author Steven Furtik say, I am “comparing my behind the scenes with someone else’s highlight reel.” The comparison game ends in despair and discouragement. In a reading from “Courage to Change” it suggests that maybe it would “be better to compare our present circumstances only to where we had been in the past.”
We are aiming for progress, not perfection. Shaming ourselves and beating ourselves up when we don’t perform like others, who have entirely different personalities, wiring, and life circumstances is, well, ridiculous.
We would NEVER tell someone else that they “should” be able to have the kind of perspective that a person who is dying has. We would NEVER think of suggesting that someone strive to look like a Cross-Fit Champion a few weeks after they started working our for the first time. We would NEVER think to reprimand a friend who struggles with depression or motivation. But for some reason we think it’s ok to hold ourselves to these unrealistic standards and flog ourselves when we don’t measure up. When it comes to ME, I tend to expect perfection, rather than celebrate progress.
But as a good friend always reminds me, “I don’t have to live that way anymore.” Today, I can give myself a break. Cut myself some slack. I can quit playing the comparison game. I can be gentle with myself. I can celebrate how far I have come. I can give time, time and keep moving in the right direction. Each of us is doing the best we can with what we have been given. And though that might not be where we want to land, just for today, it’s enough.