Don’t Beat Yourself Up – A post about unrealistic expectations

A few days ago, I posted an article about how we compare our ‘behind-the-scenes’ to other people’s ‘highlight reel’. In extension to the heart-on-my-sleeve thoughts expressed there, I’d like to explore personal expectations a little bit more.

I’ve been going for counselling recently, and it’s uncovered a lot of grief that I hadn’t processed properly. There were a few particularly significant losses – the suicide of a friend (she was 21), the death of my Godfather, and the death of my Grandfather. These were three of the most special people in my life, but I had totally unrealistic expectations of how I was meant to react, and deal with the grief.

In summary, my reasoning allowed for a teeny window of reaction time, in which I was allowed to act in any way I desired thank-you-very-much, but it was soon about acting strong for others and reminding myself that I’m not the only one feeling loss. They were much-loved people and many would miss them as much – or more – than I did.

So on went my just-soldier-on hat, and life continued. When grief hit, whether it be a small moment of nostalgia, or an overwhelming feeling of emptiness, I told myself to get my sh*t together, ’cause I should be over it by now.

Like I said, totally unrealistic.

I’d lost people that meant the world to me, that I loved, would always have a place in my heart, and I looked up to more than an eight-year-old looks up to their big brother.

“Of course you feel this way! Your lifeline… your anchor… was gone, and you had to deal with these losses at such a young age. That’s a lot of loss for one person; too much for one person.”

This took me by surprise. I thought we would look immediately at how to process these (which in retrospect, is what we were doing) and feel better, but the first thing I really had to do was validate my grief. I didn’t have to act strong for anyone – I needed to feel the pain of loss, and I was beating myself up for feeling the way that anyone feels when they lose a special someone.

Have there been events or losses in your life that you decided to just solider on through? Or perhaps did not allow quite enough time to process? How have you learnt to validate your emotions, and not burden yourself with unrealistic expectations?

9 thoughts on “Don’t Beat Yourself Up – A post about unrealistic expectations

  1. Thanks for sharing Zee, very truthful. I felt that I have to be strong for almost my whole life, until last year, when the energy of keeping up, keeping my spirits up, was gone. I became depressed. Now I express my feelings and emotions much quicker, which is a shock for some people around me. But not for the people who matter. And for me, for me it’s a blessing. I can move on much easier, even though at the moment of really experiencing an emotion it can even feel more shitty. It just stay shitty. Does that make sense? ^_^

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    1. SO much sense! It’s almost liberating, although we still need to make sure that we express our feelings appropriately, as long as they are not all bottled up inside it makes a HUGE difference. And the people that matter know that sometimes you need a slump before a victory.
      Thanks for sharing your experience – I enjoy reading your comments, and your blog.

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      1. ^_^ I do have to read my reply more carefully before posting πŸ™‚ even though almost everything was as it was meant, the second last sentence was not. It should be: It just DOESN’T stay shitty. It passes, the hard feelings. And yes, we have to express our feelings appropriately, but even though not everybody agrees, for me it means saying what I really mean more often. I used to think, what would the other like to hear? That made messages blurry. Now I just think: what do I feel? And do I feel like expressing that? Mostly I express myself with a lot of care, but sometimes the energy is just not there. At those moments things get ugly (which isn’t all that much by the way, it makes it sound like I am a bully ^_^ I try not to be!), most moments I just walk away. Not sure what the best approach is yet. I have difficulty going into arguments. Any ideas? πŸ™‚

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        1. Hehe. I figured you meant that :p

          It’s one of those many things that are easier said than done, but when emotions are strong and other people are involved, sometimes it’s not about expressing the emotion per se, but thinking about a resolution. This almost always comes down to talking about it. If you’re upset cos your partner said something that offended you, discuss what he said, what you felt, and why. It might be something he needs to take care when saying, it might be something you need to not take personally, or a combination. But instead of expressing the emotion, you are reconciling the NEED to express it.
          And from what I’ve read on your blog, I’m sure you’re not a bully! xx

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    1. Haha. Although I do hate how guys are somehow supposed to be magically more immune to emotion than girls are, and even more that it is considered a sign of strength. Often, my emotion comes out in music, or art, or writing… hopefully if we don’t feel we can talk about something, we can at least let it out in a healthy way πŸ™‚ Thanks for your comment.

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