Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Where I've Been

A couple of nights ago I stared at my vast collection of books and decided that I wanted to read one. If there's a book I love, I'll read it over and over again. I love to read. And I usually devour most books I get. For some reason, my eyes were drawn to one book in particular that I started reading about a year or so ago and never finished. Being better late than never, I decided that I felt like finishing it. I curled up and opened the book. I noticed I dog-eared a ton of pages and had underlined and starred so many passages that it looked like I had partially written parts along with the author. I was actually surprised at myself that I hadn't finished this book when I started it so many months ago.

As I began to dive into the book, I started to realize why I put it down in the first place. The book is kind of interactive - there are questions in it and places to take notes. It focuses on your life and if taken seriously, forces you to take a good, hard look at yourself. As I sat there reading, a year later, I stared in shock at the scribbled notes I wrote down.

I can't believe how much I've changed. I know I say it a lot, but seeing the actual writing in black ink in that book, really hit home for me. I was so unhappy. I felt unfulfilled with friendships and had a complete lack of interest in my career choices. It wasn't always that way... at some point I was very happy. But then when things started to change, and I started to change, I didn't bother to try to fix things that I wasn't happy with. I just kind of stayed stagnant. I let my feelings fester... and it blew up in my face. I let my fear of change and the unknown stop me from living my life.

Some of the questions in the book ask about personal fulfillment and satisfaction. It talks about goals and motivation (I didn't have either!) and dreams. I had a laundry list of things I wasn't happy about, but didn't have a plan of action to help myself or to change. I read the things I wrote over and over until the words practically blurred. I showed them to my husband. I thought about them that night when I went to sleep. There might be a ton of change going on in my life right now, and sometimes it can get scary or I can be majorly unsure of things, but I wouldn't change "change" for the world. I never want to be that person I once was again.

Now when I need motivation I pick up that same book. I have so many goals and dreams and aspirations I would love to write down, but I need to see those old passages to remind me of my progress. I need to see the "old me" every once and awhile because it makes me proud and keeps me going. I can't imagine being back in that place I used to be. It's funny... the author wrote the book to be inspirational, but nothing she wrote could ever be as inspirational as the things I wrote in that book.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Something that was really hard for me to do was to eliminate the negative influences and people in my life. Changing your life, your relationships and friendships can be hard and a really painful experience. But in the long run, it's more painful to stay put where you are if you know you're surrounded by negativity.

When you become more assertive, stronger, more emotionally stable and more confident it is an unfortunate fact of life that there will be people that will try to drag you back down. I can go along for months perfectly fine and then something will happen that will make me feel like I blinked and was launched back into high school. And the funny thing is, that I will always say "I wish I had the knowledge then that I have now." When these petty things happen though, it gives me the chance to put that MO to the test.

See, the thing is, the problems, drama, issues, people.... it didn't matter then and it doesn't matter now. So what if someone challenges something I say, makes fun of what I do or puts me down for something I think. I'm still going to continue doing what I'm doing. And if people still want to attack me or put me down, then that's their problem. Sounds cliche, I know. But while all your negative influences and people put exhaustive amounts of time and energy into making fun of you or telling you why you'll fail, you can put your time and energy into positive things and making things happen.

Everyone has the ability to choose the people they allow into their lives. Don't waste time on the people and things that don't matter. Have compassion for them, but don't spend time on them (your time can be much better spent!).

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Expectation Creation

Do you consider yourself a person with high expectations?

I never used to... but after forcing myself to take a deep, down look inside I realized my expectations were sky high... Not that I'm knocking expectations! I think expectations are great. They serve as a helpful reminder to go after your goals or to allow you to gain the respect you know you deserve. They help you strive for things in life. But, as with most things, there is a flip side to this idea.

When expectations take on a life of their own, it could mean trouble. I've often found this to be the case. Sometimes I have such high expectations for things around me I'm almost definitely setting myself up for an inevitable letdown. And let's face it, I can't control what happens around me. So why do I EXPECT that I can? I subscribe to the notion that everyone will treat me with kindness and respect, I'll get raises and promotions because I work hard, my husband will always want to spend time with me because he loves me so much, my friends will always call me first in a crisis for advice and good things will come to me if I put good things out there. Now at this point, you're probably doing one of two things: 1) nodding your head feverishly in agreement and thinking that is absolutely the way things should work or 2) rolling your eyes so far back into your head they practically disappear. I'm basing a whole lot of my feelings on the way I feel things SHOULD be and how I EXPECT them to be. You can almost see the disappointment awaiting me in the future. Now I also tend to hold myself to sky high expectations. I expect my work to always be right, I expect to know the answers to people's questions, know the right thing to do should a problem arise and I always expect to land anything I pursue.

I think it's easy to see how unreasonable expectations can set you up for disaster. And a lot of people with anxiety tend to have unrealistic expectations... perfectionism is one big one I've noticed. Anxious people want things to always run smoothly, to always be perfect. They want the world to be fair. They want praise from their bosses and kudos from friends. And they bust their butts trying to get it all. I know I did... for a very long time. I would spend hours obsessively beating myself up if I thought I said something stupid at work or incorrect at class. When I went for my yoga certification I was terrified that everyone would judge me because I couldn't touch my toes. I over analyzed every move I made (and every move everyone else made!) and caused myself immense anxiety and pain.

The reality is though... that there is no such thing as perfect. But there is such a thing as expectations being too high, too unrealistic, too unobtainable. The fact is, life is life. You can't control it. You can't predict it... and sometimes that is half the fun. Things aren't always fair and things won't always turn out the way you want them to, but what you can take control of is how you perceive it when things don't go the way you expect them to. Don't beat yourself up if you think you said something stupid because no one else even noticed. Don't get down on yourself for not losing 10 pounds in a week, celebrate the fact that you're working out or that you lost one pound or that you're doing something good for yourself! Don't expect the world... because you might never get it. Instead, try to look at things with no judgement and no expectations and look forward to whatever is thrown your way.

And if you do find yourself caught up in a high expectation... bring yourself back down. And then be proud of yourself for doing so!