If you are like most women, you are your own worst critic. Being hard on ourselves is what we do. If you live your life never feeling like what you do is enough, then read on, friend! Finding freedom from our own expectations is not impossible.
Here are some questions to ask to help find freedom from your own expectations.
Let’s just cut right to the chase. We all have the propensity to heap unhealthy expectations on ourselves. Certain events and influences from our past can increase that tendency. Ultimately, visiting those places in our lives can bring healing, but there are a few truths that we can all grab hold of now that can help us begin to break free.
Do I know my purpose?
Sometimes, we have expectations of ourselves that are outside our purpose. If I was a photographer, but I struggled with nagging thoughts like, “I don’t rescue enough people from burning buildings,” you would tell me to stick with my pictures and leave the rescues to firefighters. If I know clearly my purpose, then I can weed out other demands that inevitably fight for my attention. Are you clear on your purpose? If not, you may feel like you should do everything to cover your bases. That’s exhausting. Find your purpose.
Am I pressured by the success of other women?
Comparing can overwhelm us. Social media compounds that issue by constantly bombarding us with a filtered version of everyone’s best. Somehow, we think we should not only reach our goals for our own purpose, but do what other women are doing, as well. Besides not being realistic, that’s not healthy. The result? We live splintered lives, unable to do anything well as we attempt to do it all. And we’re exhausted. Run your race without comparing.
Do I know that the world will keep turning if I stop?
Ever find yourself thinking, “if I don’t do it, nobody will” ? Perhaps, like me, you say it out loud, taking on a superwoman voice as you do. When we believe we are the only one who will or can do something, we might have an inflated view of ourselves. Yes, there are things that we have to do, but, based on the truth that “I” cannot do everything, there are others that must go. Someone else will and can. This might mean recruiting, and even training, your replacement. Perhaps an unrealistic expectation you placed on yourself is part of someone else’s purpose. Let them have it.
Is God expecting this of me?
It would be cruel of a father to demand something from a child and then not give that child the time or resources to do it. If God has given you a task or responsibility, He will also equip you with what’s needed—including time. We beat ourselves up thinking, “if I could just figure out how to manage my time better, I could get it all done,” when in reality we are overloaded with things never given to us by our Savior. He is a good father who is not trying to work you to death and is certainly not demanding perfection. In fact, He wants you to rest.
At times, we are overwhelmed by demands in life we cannot control, such as an illness or loss. During these times, our expectations of ourselves change; they should change. Our focus becomes rest and healing. Yet, even during these times, we can expect too much of ourselves instead of walking in His mercy and grace.
At other times, we heap unhealthy expectations on ourselves unknowingly. Our desire to nurture, to help, to love and to be needed clouds our vision. We try harder and harder to do more than we were designed to do. Outside of God’s purpose, we find defeat and exhaustion.
Jesus reminds us that He wants us working alongside Him—not running around trying to impress Him. When He tells us that His yoke is easy, He is giving us a picture of being yoked with Him, as two oxen were when plowing. Together, moving forward together.
I believe He has the field already picked out and the seed ready. Are you where God wants you, or are you busy with work you heaped on yourself? Are you exhausted from trying to get it together? Ask the Father for clarity.
For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. – Philippians 2:13
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10
This post originally posted here.
Published August 18, 2016