It is really easy to get caught up in trying to live up to what you think others expect of you.
Let’s face it — at the beginning of our lives, that’s what occupies much of our time. Lots of people have expectations of us. This included our parents, grandparents, other family members, teachers, friends, and so forth. Well-meaning or otherwise, most kids are frequently working to meet the expectations of others.
As you get older and reach college or start work full-time, this begins to shift. Now there are more adult expectations. Expectations of teachers and parents, still, but now you add roommates, coworkers, lovers, and others. The expectations have changed but are still there.
When you are constantly working to please numerous others, in one form or another, it’s easy to neglect yourself. In many instances, the things you did for yourself as a child likely got labeled as selfish.
Let’s be honest — some of the things you wanted as a kid likely WERE selfish. I know a lot of kids, and even the best of them can demand selfishly from time to time. Unfortunately, the line between selfish and self-actualization in kids is super blurry.
As such, some parents and guardians over-compensate and allow far, far too much leeway. Self-actualization is often selfish in this regard. Then, on the other side, some label it all as selfish and really mess these kids up, too.
Because critical thinking is not well-taught, learning for yourself the difference between what you expect from yourself and selfishness is hard to reconcile.
Where IS the line between selfishness and self-actualization?
Because this gets complex, and people do not entirely understand how to use critical thought, you get entitled, self-righteous, unreasonable reactionaries instead of functional, reasonable adults.
Hence you see people stake a lot more trust into opinion and hearsay than science and reason. Their ability to think critically lacks — and that’s the end result.
So where is the line when it comes to kids? Frankly, that’s not easy to define. What is easy to define is selfishness.
Selfishness is taking for yourself without any thought of anyone else. That’s the simple version when it comes to explaining it to children. As adults, however, this frequently goes further.
Not only are you not thinking about anyone else — you do not care if you cause them harm, take more than your fair share and leave them with less, or otherwise unnecessarily deny them something tangible or intangible.
This is why getting a massage is a matter of self-care and not selfish. That is unless getting a massage meant that your family went without food, shelter, your affections, or some other necessity.
Self-actualization is about seeing and acknowledging what you need from yourself. This is not just about basic necessities, this is about what you recognize as being necessary to live as you desire to live.
That helps you to decide who to call friend, what jobs to take or not, places to go, and other matters that will be most right for you.
When you know what to expect from yourself and work with that, you are self-actualizing. It only becomes selfish if your actions intentionally cause harm or take without thinking about anyone else’s wellbeing.
How can you tell if you are being selfish? Do you give what you would desire from other people?
Expect from yourself what you want from others
Nobody lives in a vacuum. We share this planet, all 7+ billion of us. Every single person has their own unique perception of reality.
Still, there are Universal truisms. The golden rule — do unto others as you would have done unto you — is pretty straightforward. Don’t be a dick.
Do you like it when people take unconscionably and leave nothing or very little behind? I’m pretty sure the answer is no. Hence, you would not do that to others, right?
This is where it’s important to expect from yourself as you would expect from other people. However, rather than the simple everyday aspects of life — this gets turned into a much more complex notion.
People set bars to be surpassed. How you measure success is not the same as how I measure it. What I consider good enough you might consider unfinished. Along this line, I might believe a certain movie is incredible and you could believe it’s the worst garbage ever filmed.
When it comes to internalized matters the level of judgment often is ludicrously high. You expect from yourself ten times what you expect from anyone and everyone else. The bar is so high that it’s nigh on impossible to reach.
Would you want someone else to set a bar impossibly high for you to reach? No? Then why would you do that to yourself?
Expect the best from yourself — and strive to make it happen. But don’t make it so unattainable that you will never reach it without extreme measures.
You do not deserve to suffer
A lot of people I know believe that they have to pay a certain price to achieve. It varies, depending on the perceived size of the object of achievement in question.
As such, they accept pain, suffering, difficulty, and numerous other unpleasantness. They are convinced that suffering in some form or other is necessary to achieve.
I have often said that nothing worth having is ever easy. The effort that goes into achieving a goal makes the goal — when reached — far sweeter. However, that doesn’t mean you have to suffer every step of the way.
Expect from yourself your best effort. Use mindfulness to be aware and conscious of your thoughts, feelings, and the intent of your actions. When faced with difficulties, don’t just jump to the negative. Try and shift the perception of difficulty into a worthy challenge.
Shit will happen that will cause suffering. When you expect from yourself unrealistic effort, take a step back, and be kinder and more compassionate with yourself. Kindness, compassion, and empathy are not just for other people in the world — they apply to what you expect from yourself, too.
Suffering is often unnecessarily self-inflicted.
Being mindful of what you expect from yourself will help you find positivity and balance. Day-to-day, that will help you get wherever you desire to go and be who you desire to be.
What you expect from yourself needn’t be hard
But it does require thought, feeling, and action.
Knowing that what you expect from yourself shouldn’t be far removed from what you expect from other people, you can be kinder and more compassionate towards yourself. When you don’t have undue expectations from yourself and work to relieve unnecessary suffering that ultimately empowers you.
When you feel empowered, your mindfulness increases, you become more aware overall, and that can spread to people around you. It can create a feedback loop of awareness and positivity.
As such, you can build more positive feelings and discover more reasons to feel positivity and gratitude. That can be the impetus to improve numerous aspects of your life for the better, help overcome the overwhelming negativity of the current situation, and generate yet more positivity and gratitude.
That can then spread to change the world for the better.
An attitude of gratitude is an attitude of immense positivity that can generate even more good energies — and that, like you, is always worthwhile.
Know that you are worthy and deserving of using mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done our thoughts, feelings, and actions matter, as does what you expect from yourself.
Originally published at http://titaniumdon.com on July 20, 2020.