Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year's Resolutions or Expectations?

Now, as we have said our good-byes to 2009, and have embarked on the first decade of the 21st Century, many of us may be reflecting on the past, and 'resolving' for the future.I'm personally not a big fan of New Year's Resolutions. I have seen this work far too often as a 'rule' to be broken, and the 'butt' of many jokes.
I'd rather see each day as a new opportunity to set goals for ourselves or to envision and move toward dreams we may have for our lives.For those of us who have suffered, or continue to work for recovery from an eating disorder, it's not uncommon for us to expect and pursue unrealistic things for ourselves. Perfection? I don't believe in it. Therefore we can not be imperfect either. I'm not saying that I don't believe strongly in the power that each of us possesses to pursue greater things for our lives, but I encourage you to stop and think if that pursuit is building you up or tearing you down.The expectations that we place on ourselves AND others oftentimes end up being the things that defeat us. This often parallels the need/desire for control in our lives and our environment. This isn't feasible. We cannot control those around us. And when we expect others in our lives to be a certain way or do a certain thing, often we are setting ourselves up for anger, frustration, resentment, or any mixture of emotions...which too often get stuffed down inside and may surface as self-harm (ED). Is it worth it? Do we really have a right to put our own expectations on others..especially if we are setting ourselves up in the process? I don't believe we do.
And as I have adopted this concept more and more into my own life (thanks to my husband :), I have felt a great burden taken off of me. My need to control and 'see all' very seldom surfaces anymore.I am not referring to our rights to be respected by others, or to be loved and cared for, but the 'expectations' that emerge from our own need for certainty and control.The flip side of this may be even more damaging for we who are or have been 'people pleasers'. The expectations (or perceived ones) that we face in our lives daily carry much more power to 'fuel' our eating disorders and the strive for perfection than almost any other factor. I'm referring to the 'extremes', not the reports we have due for school or work, etc. It's when we sacrifice ourselves (literally) in order to please others, be accepted, or to avoid criticism, when the harm is done. I was told from a very young age that I was 'so good'. Wow! That's a tough label to keep in place. I was told exactly what was the 'right' way to think, act, and grow up. These 'expectations' were very gender stereotypical, so my only option for adulthood was marriage and raising children. My response? I decided (subconsciously) not to grow up. This wasn't the only factor in the development of my eating disorder, but it was a strong one. Are you living your life to meet others' expectations? Are they realistic? Do they correlate with your own values and goals for your life? Are those expectations actually infringing on your free will and rights? Maybe now is the time to decide what YOUR beliefs, values and life goals are, outside of what others expect.
So, perhaps you can ask yourself as the time approaches to celebrate 2010, how can I prevent from 'setting myself up' for disappointment or defeat as I work my recovery? How can I relax what I expect from others so that I am better focused on meeting my own needs?May each of you be blessed with a safe, healthy and joyful New Year!!

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