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What Do We Expect from Our Life?

This lesson is a part of an audio course How to Overcome Perfectionism and Fear of Failure by Nar Mina

Do you have a shattered dream related to your career, sporting achievements, or relationship? Did you feel depressed or slack when something you wished for did not realize?

Inflexible expectations, like your idea about how a company should treat its employees, can make you unhappy and deeply disappointed.

There is nothing wrong with wanting the best. The problem is our very reaction to unachieved goals and unmet expectations.

Perfectionists like conditional constructions: "If I make X, I will get Y." Therefore, many perfectionists loved predictability at school. "If I learn my lessons, then I will pass the exam with excellence." And usually, the predictions associated with studies and grades came true.

They also have these kinds of attitudes in other areas: like: "If I work out five days a week, I'll lose weight," "If I achieve this goal, I will be happy," "If I keep going on dates, I will find my soulmate," "If I work hard, I will be promoted."

Rationally, we understand that life cannot always go the way we want. And it is frustrating. But for perfectionists, any deviations from the expected result can be unbearable.

Parents want to see their children successful, and there's nothing wrong with that. But if they put too much pressure on the child because of it, the consequences may be unpleasant. The stress caused by parental perfectionism requires great sacrifices from children. It has a tremendous negative impact on the emotional and physical well-being of kids.

When we allow children to "make mistakes," they learn to cope with unexpected results and solve problems to achieve their goals. The important thing is to take care of children's physical health and let them make mistakes. It will help them develop determination, resilience, and self-confidence.

Let them play, fantasize, be passionately involved in their activities and studies. They need to understand that:

  • Even when expectations are not met, they can get results.
  • A mistake does not mean that you need to quit everything.
  • You can learn from mistakes. And failure does not mean that you are a loser.

We all have some rules about how, in our opinion, life should be. For example, ideas about how a loving spouse, a caring friend, or successful person MUST behave. These rules affect our perception of ourselves and others, our feelings, reactions, and outlook.

In our heads, we perceive these expectations as facts. These beliefs are so strong that we sometimes forget that they are our interpretations, not the truth. For us, they are inflexible and unshakable. We often do not even realize that they exist, at least until the rule is violated.

For example, Jane has a rule, or a conviction that men who spend time with their friends do not want to spend it with their wives. In her opinion, a loving husband should always want to be around. Without any exceptions. Even if he likes watching football with friends.

When she realized that she had this conviction, She decided to question its validity and usefulness. And admitted her rule to be inadequate. Of course, if her husband always avoided spending time with her, it would mean his disinterest. But the desire to be with friends is quite natural.

When we think that someone must do something, we feel angry and indignant towards this person. For example, you think that your husband should walk your dog since you've been working the whole day, but if your spouse doesn't jump at the opportunity, you'll be upset.

If you stop using the words like "must" or "have to," you will notice your emotional and physical well-being and relationships improve.

What do you think of a true friend... A loving spouse...or Good people should behave? ... What beliefs do you have about the behaviors of sales representatives,... Politicians...even strangers?

Our rules are rooted in our subconscious so deeply that they seem like facts to us and not subjective attitudes, which they really are. If you ask someone about his rules and policies, he'll probably have no idea what you're talking about.

The real problem is the way we react to the violation of our beliefs as if they were real, as if everyone knows about them and accepts them.

Perfectionists have even more rules for themselves:

  • I should be more successful.
  • I should be in better shape.
  • I should help my neighbors.
  • I should have known this.
  • I should always look presentable.
  • I should be able to do more in a day.
  • I have to cook for my family.
  • I must keep my house clean.
  • I should be happier.
  • My mom should help me and support me.
  • Families must get together more.

When their rules are broken, perfectionists react very violently. They are prone to bouts of depression, outbursts of anger, and mental breakdowns. They either openly express fury or suppress it. They isolate themselves. They stop trying. And give up. They engage in some unhealthy activity.

Expectations help us get a picture of ​​what might happen in the future and thus give a sense of control in an unpredictable world. If you believe that by making X, you will achieve Y, and that's exactly what happens, it is very satisfying. You feel comfortable and safe knowing what will happen.

For perfectionists, unpredictability is like losing control. And losing control is scary. You understand that you have absolutely no control over what is happening, and you can't do anything to improve the situation.

This increases stress, depressed mood, and the desire to give up. That is why we lose our temper when somebody is running late.

Failed expectations provoke strong feelings in perfectionists because they tend to take everything personally. The perfectionist thinks that the company's refusal to employ her has nothing to do with job requirements or company policy; the only reason is that she is not good enough.

Or if her husband wishes to spend time with his friends, it means that he doesn't love her.

If you dig deeper, you will see that these statements are rules that describe your attitude to yourself.

When you judge someone, you define yourself, not the other person. Perfectionists tend to be very judgmental and disapproving. They easily judge everybody who does not meet their standards, including themselves. In fact, self-criticism is the reason why they severely judge others. If you constantly criticize yourself, you will definitely criticize others.

Take a minute to think about your rules, musts, and have to regard yourself and the people around you.

Think about how your life would change if you stopped judging yourself and others so harshly? Some people think that judgments help them to distinguish right from wrong. If they don't judge, they won't know how to act. However, there is a difference between analyzing and judging. Analysis means the ability to see things clearly, highlighting common and distinctive features in different situations. Judgment, however, goes further, assessing the event as bad or good.

In order to give up judging, you need to get rid of words like "must." Try replacing it with "I would like to" or "it would be good/great/ideal if ..." – and see what happens. Replacing the word "have to" with a more neutral one immediately removes the sense of condemnation.

It is important to understand that you are not able to always control what is happening. The prospect of losing your job can be depressing. It can make you feel helpless. Stop and ask yourself: "What can you do to feel better in that situation."

This is the end of lesson 11. In lesson 12, you'll learn about dealing with our fears and concerns.

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Written by

Nar Mina

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