Column 09 – Great Expectations by The FlyLady, Marla Cilley

 With our personalities we often expect the worst. People in the field of psychology call this catastrophising.  (my dictionary can’t spell this word) Think of it this way. Someone in your family did not call you when you thought they were supposed to. You immediately start thinking of everything bad that could have happened to them. You work yourself into a tizzy and when they eventually call; they just forgot. All the while you are upset; your adrenalin is pumping and you can’t settle down. 

We have set ourselves up for this by allowing our minds to run rampant thinking the worst. Did you know that we can do just the opposite of this and set ourselves up for more disappointment?

This is when our imagination takes a simple event we are going to attend and make it much more glamorous and special than it really is. One of these events is the holidays. We spend hours dreaming of how wonderful it is going to be only to be disappointed by its inability to live up to our expectations. Our wedding day can do that to us too. We expect that this is going to be the greatest day of our lives and if that were to happen what would that say for the rest of our marriage. Our imaginations cause us to live in a fairy tale where everything works out and then when it doesn’t occur the way we have imagined we are devastated.

This devastation is caused by our perfectionism. Expectations that no one or any event can live up to only come true in fairy tales. I am trying to figure out why we do this to ourselves. It is one thing to have hope but it is an entirely different thing to exaggerate or project an outcome on people’s reactions when we cannot read their minds and we don’t have a magic wand.

This type of perfectionism is all about control. We want to be the director of the play we have staged in our head. We want everything to go just as we have planned. Then when it doesn’t go just the way we imagined we lash out at the people who didn’t play their parts well. If for some reason you don’t say what is on your mind then you take to your bed and complete the process of closing out the real world more than you already have.

When you are putting a project together, planning an event, making a gift, writing a letter; during the time of the planning if you are projecting in your mind the reactions, responses, compliments, conversations of what will happen upon the completion,  you are setting yourself up to be disappointed.  You have taken what should have been something fun and something done out of love for others into it all being about you.

Looking for validation from others instead of looking for it from yourself is going to make you miserable. If you need others to tell you how wonderful you are to feel good, you have to ask why.  You can’t clean, stop smoking, lose weight, declutter or anything else if you are only doing it for the recognition of others. You have to do it for yourself.

We have to catch our brains before the plot and scheme to destroy our peace. Don’t allow yourself to project unrealistic outcomes. Be happy with what is. Don’t make things worse than they really are or set your expectations so high that nothing can every live up to them. Setting the bar of expectation so high that no one will ever be able to reach it only allows you to always be the victim and martyr. In your own mind you believe that others really did let you down which makes you right in your feelings of being let down and victimized. You are only a victim of your own thoughts. Be happy with what is and enjoy the process. Don’t allow your perfectionism to ruin another event in your life.

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