Recently I became aware of what felt like a lead balloon dropping onto my lap. It was the heavy weight of expectation. This is an expectation that I am responsible for, as it is what I have put upon myself. Once I began to feel the weight of this lead balloon, that weight that had often been there suddenly became very intense. Let me explain some of the expectations I’ve put on myself…
“I think I should be perfect.” This crazy concept spreads across all areas of my life.
I think I should be amazing at my job – even when starting a new part-time job. I think I should be able to step in and know it all and be the best. I’m scared that if I don’t, my employers will think I’m no good and that they made a mistake in hiring me.
Likewise, “I think that the company I run should be successful and if it’s not, I’m then a failure.” I think within my own company I should be incredibly amazing and again know it all, even though I’ve never actually owned my own company before.
“I think my child should be perfect, I should be in a great relationship, should own my own home and a nice car, I should be an outstanding cook, my body should be perfect, the house orderly at all times, even that this blog should be perfectly written first go!“ I could go on, but my point is that it literally covers all areas of my daily life.
I have previously spent a lot of time thinking myself not ‘good enough’ or not complete until I achieve these things. I have pinned my self-worth to how successful I am and I have been identified with achievement. Simply being me has not been enough – I have had this pressure on myself to be perfect.
The result: I have been living with a ridiculous amount of nervous tension in my body. It is exactly that – a tension in my body. My body feels stiff as if I am constantly on edge. The term ‘highly strung’ is very fitting. To let go, even in the slightest, is like someone (myself) has released the tightly stretched rubber band.
When recently sharing with women at a Sacred Movement group about how we are as women, someone said the word ‘expectation’ and it hit a nerve. Last week I realise I had no awareness of any of this and then suddenly, I did – and I noticed the lead balloon dropped in.
Now that I can consciously feel the nervous tension, it is at times almost overwhelming and so unbelievably uncomfortable. But I also realise now that even though last week I had no awareness of this, I still felt it regardless. I have been living constantly with this tension and this tension has been my ‘normal’. Whilst feeling this is uncomfortable, there is also a relief in it, because before, it was as if it was choking me yet I had no idea, and yet now the grip has loosened and I am aware. The awareness of it all is liberating!
I am now acutely aware of how nervous I often am around people, at work, when cooking, with parenting etc., and although this is uncomfortable, the feeling of it allows me to make changes and new choices in response to different situations. I can now move beyond a constant nervous tension that has been with me for years.
So the lead balloon that has often landed and been sitting on my lap has been intense. But in hindsight, so has living with such a huge expectation of myself and constant nervous tension. Now that I am aware of it, I can no longer avoid what I have always felt. It doesn’t feel the intensity of the feeling has increased, only that I now am more aware of the intensity. And whilst having a lead balloon on my lap isn’t often pleasant, I now know it is there and that I’m the one who put it there!
I feel freer in knowing and understanding that these were my choices and that I can now make different ones. I can let go of more of the unnecessary expectation I put upon myself. I can be me, exactly as I am. Sometimes I forget to wash the greens when making soup, sometimes I leave the garage light on, sometimes I make mistakes… perhaps I won’t own my own home, or have a nicer car or any other external factor… and yet it doesn’t change who I am.
This expectation has been running me for a long time and strangely enough, becoming aware of the weight of the lead balloon of expectation has brought a sense of lightness and allowed me to feel more of the True Me!
By Nikki McKee, Goonellabah, NSW