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December 9, 2011

Do You Fall Into the “Expectation” Gap?

By Jillian Teta

Do you fall into the “expectation” gap? That is that uncomfortable little place between what is actually happening and what you want/expect to happen–the difference between reality and the version of reality that would be convenient or “better” for us.

I certainly am a huge victim of the expectation gap. Can you relate to any of these?

  • This shouldn’t be so hard
  • I should be losing fat since I am following this plan
  • He should know that I am on a diet and not as patient
  • I should/could look as good as she looks
  • I should have placed higher at my show
  • If only I looked that way, I’d be happy
  • I shouldn’t be this tired

The end result of all of these thoughts? If you’re anything like me, it ends with negative self-talk, feelings of anger/despair/apathy, and a general feeling of misery.

Being a coach and a healthcare provider and speaking and working with so many people has made me realize that these feelings are common, universal, and practically expected.

Also, having the awareness of these feelings brings us to the sweetest thing: You can do something about it!

There are many different ways to approach this–to skirt the “expectation gap”–but thinking about these ideas are quite helpful to me:

  1. Your expectations for yourself and others are self-imposed, not based on anything but your own personal whims of what you think should “be”, rather than enjoying what “is”.
  2. When you are stressing about what should’ve happened, you’ve lost the singular beauty of the present moment.
  3. Having expectations of others leads to disappointment. Ouch! This is an uncomfortable one, but if you expect people to do only as they do, they cannot disappoint you, and you are free to just love them (and yourself)
  4. Beauty is more than a face, a body, a look and more than a mind as well.
  5. Using negative self-talk and beating yourself up, using guilt, etc as a “motivation” to work or try harder is sadistic :)

Our brains act like a big SPAM filter. The more negative we seek in the world, in others and in ourselves leads us to see more negativity. The opposite is also true: when you begin to look for the silver linings, the goods, the positives in yourself and others, you are able to see more positive things and the world becomes a much easier place to live. Eventually, you come to see the beauty in it all, especially your “failures/setbacks” and those things that you don’t like about yourself or others – you see the beauty because that is where the juiciest lessons are for you to find and learn from. The very things that cause us the most discomfort are the keys to our self-love. As we love to say here at JillFit, everything happens not to you, but for you.

Let’s turn some of those thoughts around:

  • This is only as hard as I make it
  • Results are not always linear, I have to find what works best for my body
  • My diet is my business and my choice; not partners, friends or family owe me anything for it
  • My goal is to be the best I can be
  • I don’t do shows for the judges, I do them for me to see how much I can improve
  • I’ll skip the way I look to make me happy, as it will never be enough anyway, and be happy from here, for what I am and have now
  • I should listen to my body

The second list feels a lot calmer, less judgy and more sane to me! :)

As the holidays approach and we get caught up in the stress and the expectation of it all, just remember – there is only one you. How do you want to be in the world?

Related: Are we our own worst enemy?

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