I want to connect two recovery concepts and challenge you to examine how they apply to you:
- Expectations are premeditated resentments
- We teach people how to treat us (and what to expect of us)
People are predictable. If I have a sense of who a person is, then I have an understanding of what they expect of themselves and what their standards are. If I have this understanding, then in any given situation, I can tell you what they will do.
But like many others, I believed myself to be unique and immune. I discovered this in a conversation with my wife many years ago. When she said, “I’m worried about you” I reacted as though that was an absurd thing to do. I explained, “I’m ok. I’m always going to be okay because I won’t accept anything less from myself.”
All these years later, it’s obvious that my self-acceptance at that time was contingent not only upon being super productive, but also in achieving at a very high level.
I’ve learned that the expectations and standards we hold ourselves to serve as guiding principles in our lives. Like many in recovery, I found myself repeatedly crumbling under the weight of the demands I placed on myself, the pressure I put on myself to juggle an impossible number of undertakings, and the absence of support that I allowed myself.
I’ve since learned and accepted that that behavior is incredibly disrespectful and selfish. I have often failed to respect my limitations and to honor my own needs. I have also been a “good alcoholic” by unwittingly being self-centered. I was selfless in my behavior but blind to what others could easily see. I was a human doer and not someone who could be comfortable just being.
I have robbed loved ones of the benefits of providing me support. I have reinvented the wheel instead of learning from those with lived experience or struggling together with folks similarly afflicted. Today I know that sharing my struggles opens doors for others and affords them opportunities to teach me.
Today I still do a lot. I am blessed in that I love everything I get to do. I am blessed to have a great deal of accountability in my life and my HP has surrounded me with people who are able and willing to point out my blind spots.
I’ve come to a place of consciously choosing what I expect of me and I have a very strong awareness of what I teach people to expect of me. I have had to practice saying, “No” and to not explain why I can’t or won’t do more. I encourage you to examine what you expect of yourself in each part of your life and to notice what the standards are.
Maybe you’re stuck in the kind of hell that I was – halfway between the fear of not being good enough and the fear of being too much.