In my life, I have met lots of challenges, which reinforces the fact that I am just an ordinary bloke. Everyone faces challenges. To some degree the way we deal with, meet, ignore, or cope with these challenges, depends on our individual strengths and skills.
One of the great philosophers our time, Carl Gustav Jung, recognised the stages of maturation. When we are born we are completely dependent, then as small children we become semi dependent (as we learn basic skills like dressing and eating ourselves etc). Then early into our teens and twenties we have a feeling of independence, when our perception is that we are able to exist and do everything we need for ourselves. Of course the final stage of maturation is when we discover that as human beings we are in fact a species of beings that are interdependent on one another, or with nature or perhaps even spirituality.
During many stages of my life, I have recognised that I am not an “island”. Many friends have helped me in tough times … and I would like to think that I have in some small way helped others. I suppose whatever challenges we face, whilst we may feel desperate, anxious, sad, uncertain, angry, or “washed out” … There are probably folks around us that would gladly help. It takes courage to ask for help, and it takes a mature person to understand that we are interdependent.
Whether conscious or sub-conscious we place expectations on ourselves. Whether conscious or sub-conscious others place expectations on us too. The grounds for expectations can be wholly reasonable or at the other end of the scale can be wholly unreasonable.
As I was, for many years reminded, by certain people in my life: “You set yourself up for failure by placing too high an expectation on yourself!” But in reality, who is anyone to say such a thing? My internal knee jerk reaction to this person was “yeah and you need to do less judging, less procrastinating and more encouraging.
If we consciously set goals for ourselves then, for me, I know I need to be diligent that such goals or expectations are: ‘S-M-A-R-T’
M – measurable
A – achievable
R – realistic
T – time bonded
I can’t claim the SMART Acronym as being my creation, I’ve heard it used in a number of seminars.
With this in mind, and whilst trying to prepare for a 5 day session of music production, I am aware that my management of expectations is sometimes over optimistic at best, and completely unrealistic at worst. The effect on myself is bad enough, but I know I have to be mindful of the way those expectations affect others.
Being mindful, and aware of oneself, one’s own state of mind, energy levels, limitations, the prevailing conditions, are something that I have learned (though I claim not to be a master, just at best, a novice) from Mother nature…..specifically Mountains.
When you climb a mountain solo, as I have many times now, the need to be realistic, and in some cases having the courage to turn back when just 200 feet from a summit are terrifically important, BUT SO VERY, VERY HARD.
When you are depressed, doing the grocery shopping and putting a meal on the table for your kids might represent a mountain. And, I would be the first person to stand up and vigorously defend folks who face these challenges. Unfortunately in our society there are still many ignorant folk who would scoff at people who suffer from depression. With this in mind, I try to monitor where I am at, or, as another of my dear friends has expressed a few times, “do I have the head space for this right now?”
I suppose one could liken this to being able to cope with mental pressures and stresses, depression, sadness etc as being like a Vessel. For each stress, pressure, sad event, and for feeling depressed our “coping” vessel slowly fills up, the problem comes when the drain plug at the bottom starts to close and the pressures continue until we overflow and “crash”. I have personally experienced this many times and it’s not pleasant. The effect, for me, is that I shut down. I block people out of my life, because I feel I am no good for them and this then perpetuates a downward spiral into the depths of darkness.
Now, I run my own business which is very driven by financial goals and delivery dates. Expectations are not always a bad thing. Some folks would claim “I work better under pressure” I find that as difficult to understand as they might find depression difficult to understand. Nonetheless, our society is evermore driven by social expectations and pressures.
Let us all be mindful and courageous enough to speak up when we feel such expectations are unrealistic.
With Love peace and hope,
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