BY: Janis Gaudelli – “Champion of Truths, Unicorns & AWE-tism”
Two weeks ago, I started a month-long blog series about the power of gratitude. The first blog focused on resentment, and how I swam in a bitter, grudge-ridden pool of it until I found gratitude…or, rather, until it found me. Gratitude helped me shed much of my old self, including resentment, bitterness, and unworthiness. Today, I reveal how gratitude helped release the heavy weight of living with high expectations.
Shakespeare once said:
The man knew what he was talking about.
I have always had high expectations, mostly of myself. But as I grew older, I held people to those same, and at most times unrealistic, standards. As human beings, we err regularly, but when you go through life with high expectations, you have little tolerance for mistakes. My expectations mostly applied to the way I felt people should behave in any given situation, mainly modeled on how I would (because, you know, my way was the right way…*eye-roll*). I would give unsolicited advice, telling people what they should say or do or be, and I drowned in disappointment if they didn’t follow suit. I mistakenly believed that expecting other people to behave the way I wanted them to would actually make them behave that way. My ignorance lied in not recognizing that the other person had no desire to live up to those expectations. In fact, it made them feel upset, offended, and resentful. Who the fuck was I to put that kind of pressure on people I love? Needless to say, I had an unhealthy need to control other people’s actions.
I had unrealistic expectations when it came to specific parts of my life, including:
- LOVE: I dove into every relationship thinking that if I gave someone all I had to give, and loved them wholeheartedly, that they would do the same in return.
- FAMILY: I believed that because we’re blood and were raised in the same house by the same people, that we should all think, act and love the same way.
- CAREER: I felt if I worked really hard and really long hours coming up with revenue-generating ideas, that I would get promoted to the corner office.
Those expectations are pretty laughable, straight up naïve and disillusioned, aren’t they?
Once I began my gratitude practice and got back in touch with myself (which I wrote about in my last blog), I realized it was a lot easier to accept people for who they are– and life for what it is— than to try to change behavior(s). I began to let go of my expectations and show gratitude for all that they are and what they offer.
It took a while for me to shed this idealistic mentality. But once I did, I realized that I was clinging to this high bar of expectations so tightly that I was missing meaningful opportunities. Opportunities to experience unexpected joy and beauty, and to be grateful for how life naturally unfolds. Once I got the hang of it, life became so much simpler, lighter and happier. I finally realized that letting go of expectations was the key to letting joy find me.
With all that said, I still see the benefits of having realistic expectations, because they usually move us in the direction we want to go. They help bring a certainty and brighten our outlook. Unrealistic expectations on the other hand, never serve us. They are the truest thieves of joy and gratitude. This I know for sure.
Janis Gaudelli is The Founder of The Daily Feels. She started this passion project to reveal the magic behind storytelling, and how truth-based narratives bring people together in the most heart-warming of ways. Fascinated by soul, depth, intellect, raw truths and rebellion with a cause. Often captivated by the awe of nature: star gazing, moon manifesting, sunset chasing, waves crashing, crickets singing. Fiercely curious about the inner-workings of the human psyche… she professionally studies human behavior for a living. Forever proud and grateful for being a mom to the force that fuels her life: her 7-year-old son, and greatest professor, Kellan.