I expect perfection.

Enneagram has pegged me as a type 3 personality. A performer. An achiever. A motivator. Then, I have a 9 wing and 1 wing. Which means I also have perfectionist tendencies and peacemaker capabilities.

That pretty much sums me up. I’m an open book.

I try so hard. I try to do so much. Sometimes, too much. I want an abundant life. I go after it. I want others to succeed, too. I want to help them along.

I try my best to be the best. I can’t really seem to help it. I want to do well. To succeed. To do life with an “A” average – at the least, an “A-“… that’s just me.

I’m always seeing areas in my life, my relationships, my career, myself, my days – – – that could be improved. It’s not that I’m consciously thinking, “Oh, hey. I need to get better or be better.” It’s more of an underlying characteristic that is constantly influencing me to continuously be doing more, be fixing things, be working constantly, or to always be focusing on improvement.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There is A LOT of good that comes from having this personality. I work hard. I give effort. I’m not naturally lazy. Things like that.

But, I am finding that – – – this need to “improve” gets to be overwhelming. Never ending.

And, most recently, it has morphed into that thing called “unrealistic expectations” rearing its ugly head again.

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Unrealistic Expectations

Expectation is simply defined as “the act or state of expecting; anticipation.” We expect things out of life. That’s normal. We expect to do well on a test we studied hours for. We expect to be loved by those we care about. We expect to get a stomachache if we eat too much candy, etc.

Unrealistic Expectations, though, are when a person constantly expects things to happen that are virtually impossible.

This is the area of my performance-based, perfectionistic personality that has always been a sort of battleground. A struggle.

I expect to be perfect. If I’m not, I must need to try more, to work out more, to be kinder, to have a better sense of humor, to be prettier, and on and on and on.

I expect others to be perfect. I expect relationships to be perfect. I expect my weekends to be perfect. I expect my marriage to be perfect. I expect my house to look perfect. I expect my vacations to be perfect.

Now, I’m not completely out there or dense, ok?! I realize that these things are impossible. There’s just no way. I’m human. I live in a sin-stricken world with pain and disappointment.

As soon as I realized (quite a few years ago) that I was riddled with unrealistic expectations, I have worked to combat them.

I have arrived at the point to where I truly love my life. I have a good sense of self-confidence. I realize that failure comes with adulthood. I’m ok with not being the best.

But, I wouldn’t be authentic if I said that I have “arrived” or that I “never struggle with these feelings of never measuring up.”

Just last night… I was being cranky. Yes, old (normally cheerful) me. I was frustrated with my lack of accomplishing things that I wanted to get done. Yes, I’m on fall break, but come on, I have things I thought were more important than relaxing. I mean, I need to constantly be doing more to be better, right?

Then, I had a “grow up” moment – and the Spirit of God convicted me. Basic synopsis: He told me I was ungrateful, semi-pathetic, and no fun to be around… I needed to be thankful for the amazing life I have and just get over things.

As I crawled into bed and started apologizing to Hub for being such an annoying spouse that evening – which turned into my need of a counseling session as I poured out all of these feelings and thoughts that (apparently) have been bottled up inside me – God used my husband to speak such wisdom into my life…

He said things like…

  •  “Your worth is not based upon how good or bad of a day you have.”
  •  “They love you, Courtney, but that’s just not good enough for you.”
  •  “You expect yourself to be perfect.”
  •  “I always enjoy holidays, but you are so wrapped up in things being perfect that you aren’t able to truly have a good time.”

And his wisdom kept bubbling out for probably half an hour.

Ouuuuch. Yikes. Me? Really!? I’m like that?

Yes. Yes.

My husband has me pegged. He said all these things in love. But, let me tell you, they sure were hard to hear.

I get SO wrapped up – even subconsciously – in perfection.

Perfect everything.

And, in the search for perfection, I lose the joys of the imperfect. I lose the fascination with real life.

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What about you? Do unrealistic expectations have you frustrated with yourself, your job, your marriage, or your family?

Don’t forget. There is a perfect God out there who says to me and you, “My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

Our weaknesses.. Our shortcomings.. Our inadequacies.. When given to God, these imperfections showcase to the world that God uses earthen, human, needy vessels on the daily. To accomplish HIS purpose. He loves to be our Strength. He longs to be our EVERYTHING.

Will you let Him? You won’t truly rest until you do.

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Practical Ways to Combat Unrealistic Expectations

  1. Have someone close to you keep you accountable. Have them be straight up honest and call you out when your unrealistic expectations start getting in the way. 
  2. Take a chill pill. Pause your to-do list. Take a moment, an hour, a day. Spend some time doing something you love. Or just sitting on the couch. Things can wait.
  3. Check your attitude. How are you treating yourself and those around you? Do you need to back up and apologize to anyone? Being unkind is never OK.
  4. Set realistic goals for whatever situation you find yourself viewing unrealistically. Make an actual list. Be honest with yourself (or others, depending on the situation). Don’t expect too much and make yourself miserable. 

 

 

Photo creds: Hub / Location: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

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