Are you creating additional stress in your life?
Are your expectations unrealistic for your stage of life, stage of health, state of mind?
These past two weeks, I have had quite a few clients with heightened stress levels. As we dive down into the issue, a portion of their stress is due to their somewhat unrealistic expectations.
- I should be able to work out 5 times a week, every week.
- I should be able to talk to my wife and kids whenever I want.
- I should be calm, cool and collected with my kids all the time.
- I shouldn't be this anxious, I should know better
Most of these statements are in and of themselves innocuous if not great goals. We should exercise regularly, have good communication with our family, be calm with our children and have a steady mood. Bring it on I say.
But there are times when these expectations are unrealistic and holding ourselves to these lofty goals may simply create more stress. I would argue such expectations may well move us further from our goals. Too much stress often means decreased motivation and drive after a while.
One of the first key signs of unrealistic expectations is most phrases that start with "I should". Such a start already highlights a discourse between your reality and your expectations. So what's going to give?
The second key is to ask why - why is this a "should" instead of an action? And I can see my clients tense or get despondent when they say these sort of things. So note your language and your body - and then let's action it.
Is getting the new school schedule in place preventing you from going the gym 5 days a week? Understandably so, but this is a temporary situation. We will get the new routine down, we always do. So maybe in the meantime, a realistic expectation is 3 days a week for the next 4 weeks. Then let's revisit.
Let's create short-term goals that reflect and work with your temporary situation
If away, then maybe talking to the family every night is not realistic, ideal but not realistic with activities and time differences. So what is realistic, what night is best? Maybe email or texting might fill the gap. The goal is communication not to be on the phone at a specific time.
Let's work to the actual goal and not the vehicle of the goal
Being a good role model for our kids is one of our major roles as a parent. Showing our kids how to deal with their feelings, by leading and by providing examples, is also a key role we have as parents. So if you aren't cool and collected, how can you create it? Or how can you use this a learning experience for your kids, and maybe you too? My wise husband tells me often we are raising amazing little humans, so we get to act like one too, faults and all.
Let's create holistic goals that include all aspects of our personality and life
Anxiety is usually about worry - so what are you actually worried about? Is this based on fact or something created? Do you need a bit of extra support right now, if so, who and how? I support many with anxiety and I personally suffer so I know and see how debilitating it can be. There can be times when there are biochemical reasons for anxiety (copper levels, pyrolles, hormones) but also about how we think.
Let's create realistic responses and get help when we need it
I am not trying to give you an excuse not to be healthier and connected, both in body and mind. No way!
What I am asking is that you set yourself up to succeed. Set goals that are realistic and healthy. Adopt a mindset that serves you, maybe even propels you, instead of undermines you.
Create a life in which you win, every single day!