comfortED

I’m baaaaccck….again. I know I keep  saying I’ll be consistent and keep writing but yet here I am three months (ish) since my last post. So where have I been? I’ve been teaching lots and lots yoga. I’ve been doing chores, lots and lots of chores. I’ve also been trying to stay one step ahead of Melvin, and dealing with the loneliness that has surfaced. With each passing day I say to myself, “I need to write”, “this would be a great post”, “you could be writing right now since you aren’t doing anything but watching Netflix “,or “I’m too emotionally spent to do anything but watch Netflix”. Lately though I have felt compelled to come back. There have been too many self discoveries, perfect post ideas, and recently I’ve been encouraging others in their recovery journey. So here I am, watching Netflix (think a British version of House Hunters) and writing my first post in three months. Here we go…

This past Sunday in Small Groups we were asked a question, “What is your favorite comfort food?”. All of us had to answer as a way to promote class bonding and get prepared for the lesson (how God is the ultimate comforter and through his comfort we can be of comfort for others-awesome right?!). We go around and everyone answers. People talk about their mom’s macaroni and cheese, their grandmother’s chicken spaghetti, ice cream, cupcakes from this cupcakery in Wilco, Texas, chocolate chip cookies with coffee,  and pad thai and other Asian noodle dishes (my husbands answer). I was last and it was my turn! All eyes were on me. I was absolutely terrified. I couldn’t think of anything. I eat avocado brownies-not comforting. I eat lentils-I have a favorite recipe but it isn’t what I’d call comfort food. I drink protein shakes with collagen-not comforting. I have sweet treats that I binge on (dairy free ice cream of the chocolate chip cookie dough persuasion to name a handful) but those indulgences don’t comfort me–they have the opposite effect. Luckily the leader’s wife helped me out. She made a really witty joke about how my food allergies keep me from having any comfort food. She has a point, I mean I can’t eat my mom’s macaroni and cheese anymore.

 

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All during class I couldn’t shake the fact that food doesn’t comfort me. Here I am six years later and I still have a hard time with food. I cannot use food for comfort because it will trigger a binge; which will lead to a purge session either on the treadmill or weightlifting bench.If it doesn’t lead to a binge it will lead to self loathing. There are times I really do enjoy food (like the vegan ramen from Goru Ramen in the Plaza District, Ridgewood BBQ back home, anytime I eat pizza, Holey Rollers donuts) but food is still a form of survival. I eat because I have to. I eat because I get hangry if I don’t. I eat because I have fitness goals. I eat because starving sucks. I eat so I can keep Melvin at bay. I eat because that’s what humans do.

Taking this a step further and using our Small Group lesson about comfort I started thinking about how ED’s are used as a comfort. Those of us who live with an eating disorder or lived with one, found comfort in it at one point in our lives. Instead of God, family, music, faith, food, yoga–counting calories, lifting sessions, and laxatives became our comfort. When our friends weren’t there our ED was. When our family didn’t understand us, our ED did. When God forsook us, our ED showed us the way. When we were alone and misunderstood, our ED “got us”. Everything was cold, hard, and dreary, except for our disorder.

We believe our ED is a comfort instead of what it really is-a discomfort. We can’t see the discomfort that our disorder is causing us because we have been so manipulated by its words and the false sense of purpose it gives us. We believe with every calorie it will replace the friends we are losing.  We believe that every minute on the treadmill will warm us up like a flannel blanket. We believe that every meal we skip will save us from the torment that is our life. When in fact its the opposite. Those skipped meals aren’t warm flannel blankets. Those perfect calorie counts and hours on the treadmill don’t comfort us like our friends and faith will. The only comfort we have is knowing that there is something bigger and better than our disease. The only comfort, even though it can be just as discomforting, is recovery and placing faith in a higher power. That is the warm flannel blanket. That is what warms our hearts. That is our comfort food.

 

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Happy One Month

I have been in Oklahoma City a little over a month. It is crazy how quickly time flies. It feels just like yesterday that we were living in hotel rooms and waiting for our furniture to arrive. It feels just like yesterday that I experienced my first hail storm. I am halfway through tornado season and I might just make it…maybe, that is if I don’t get bulldozed and blown away by OKC’s sixty mph winds.

Being here the past month I have learned so much. It is just like the quote we see on all those reclaimed wood pieces, you never know how strong you are until you have to be. While I have moved a lot during my life, it is one reason why I developed my eating disorder, I never did it as an adult. I was always with my family. With this move I only had my husband and my dog. Even the feel of the move is different when you are an adult. As an adult you actually comprehend what is happening and it is harder to say goodbye, especially when you have roots. While I enjoy being nomadic (growing up I wanted nothing more than to travel the world, not staying in one place for to long, experiencing new things–which I still do) it is different when you have roots. People you care about it. Emotional ties. Family. Being uprooted is almost death, but like vegetables that you can replant from roots-avocados, celery-you can be brought back to life, sometimes even stronger than before.

 

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One of My Favorite Bronze Sculptures in Downtown Edmond

 

As I mentioned in my previous post, this move has been triggering. With each passing day I am getting acclimated to this region (even though all this wind is aggravating my dosha! #vataproblems) and I’m working on managing my eating disorder/anxiety. I am becoming more grounded and setting up a routine that I desperately need to keep my ED and anxiety at bay ( I’m even starting therapy again-beginning today). While I am making a daily schedule I am learning to block time for fun and exploration. This move is teaching me to find balance and resiliency, a quality I don’t have that I hope I can learn.

On a spiritual note, this move helped me get back to praying. From the moment Jere told me the good news fear and anxiety set in. I knew this was a big shift and needed support. So I began to pray. I prayed that we would be safe, find a place where we would fit in/community. I also began to pray that He would open doors for me that weren’t available where I was. I began to grow weary of the freelance life and longed for something more stable. I prayed that He would help bring the right yoga studio and opportunities my way. He moved a lot sooner than I expected and within two weeks I was working in a studio that reminded me of my home studio. I began to volunteer with Yoga in the Park and meet people. I’m still praying and jumping on opportunities that present themselves. some workout, some don’t, and that’s OK. At the end of the day I’m thankful for His guidance and the discernment He has given me.

 

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This Fun Mural is in Downtown Edmond Outside the Shoppe, Summit, a Wilderness Store.

 

Each day I wake up in OKC, look at the beautiful sunrise as I take Winston out for a walk and I can’t believe I am here. Each Wednesday when I drive into the city (Midtown) with the skyline and skyscrapers in my eyesight, I get excited. I can’t believe that I’m finally living the Metro life. Everything I have ever wanted is ten to twenty minutes away. Any experience I have missed out on is here. The people that I meet daily and/or work with are unlike anyone I’ve met. Opportunities abound and I can’t help but dance in my heart.

If this first month in OKC has been this eventful I can’t imagine what will happen next month, the third month, or the month after that. Where will I be by Christmas? How about this time next year? I can’t wait.

 

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An Oklahoma Sunrise

 

 

self obsessED

Life has been a whirlwind since I last blogged. Lots of life has happened. Since my last post, my husband and I go had three weeks to move from TN to OK. I have been in OK a little over a month and I have been busy! My goal to work in a yoga studio has happened. I am slowly meeting people and still trying to find a way to dance. I have been to the ballet, sipped coffee in new coffee shops, and tried some new things. While life has been good-I am thriving professionally and loving the city life-I have also been relapsing.

This relapse has been slightly different than previous ones throughout my years of recovery. As one continues in recovery, relapses take different shapes and forms (see my other post Rabbit Hole Relapse). This little set back has been triggered by the move. Which makes sense because I am not in control, I am new to a foreign place (even though OK isn’t too different from TN, the parallels are quite spot on), trying to get my ducks in a row, and my workout schedule has changed quite a bit–more on this next week. On top of all of this my GI Phantom has reappeared and we all know how that goes…

 

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Obviously one must restrict calories and find the control through food manipulation when one is going through an uprising. However, I cannot restrict food because it makes me even crankier, so I just obsess about every piece of food that goes into my mouth. I secretly count calories, have marathon worry sessions (to bad these marathons don’t burn calories!!!!), eat lots of fruit,  and the worst part of all: I become selfish.

Those of us who suffer from ED’s have one thing in common-we are selfish. When we are in the depths of ED despair all we can think about is ourselves: what we look like, what the number on the scale says, if our food choices are healthy, asking our safe person five hundred times a day if we look fat/have our thighs turned dimply/do we look any different, all we can talk about is food-exercise-body image. We aren’t aware of those around us and how they feel, we can’t see how we are bringing them down, we aren’t content, we see the worst in everything, and most importantly we forget to look around and see the beauty in life.

 

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For the past month, everyday I have been negative about my body. Asking Jeremy every hour on the hour that he is home “how do I look?”, “are my thighs turning into cottage cheese?”, “I haven’t exercised today because my schedule is crazy, is that ok?”, “can you tell that I haven’t worked out?”, “am I still pretty?”. Everything is revolved around me, me, me. Even though he is stressed and could use some comfort I cannot see it or give it because all I care about is what I look like. These thoughts not only cloud our head and thought processes, they cloud our vision. We cannot see things for how they really are. We cannot see who we really are. It isn’t until someone calls you out on your selfishness that you can begin to make a change.

This is precisely what happened with me and Jeremy. One day this past week I spent over the half the day not talking about anything but food and my horrible body. I guess (I guess, hah, I know!) that Jeremy had had enough and he said to me, “I know that what you look like is all you care about but….” I can’t really remember the rest but that statement “all you care about” was enough to knock me back to Earth because I DO care about other things. I care about my family, my dog, my husband, being a good yoga teacher, art, helping those around me, spreading smiles and happiness to those who seem a little sad. That statement helped me to back off a little bit, instead of 500 questions a day about my body I’ll ask 490, and focus on my relationship with Jeremy–because my relationship with him will always overcome and be priority over my relationship with Melvin (my ED).

While I’m still coping with my body and not very happy with it, I am trying my best to be less self obsessED and more content(ED).

 

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Birthday Reflections

Sorry for the delay between posts-life has been interesting. In the course of two and a half weeks I have celebrated my birthday, my husband got a promotion, and we have our bags packed ready to move to Oklahoma. Yes, you read that correctly. We are moving to Oklahoma. Over these two and a half weeks, we have had to say goodbye to friends and family, find a new place to live, find a new home, and make plans. This process has been a learning tool and when all is said and done I can’t wait to share my insights with you! Until then, this will have to do.

A few weeks ago I celebrated my birthday and like most people I take a moment to reflect on the previous year. I take time to look at what I’ve accomplished, what I want to accomplish in the upcoming year, and how to be more intentional in my daily life. My birthday activities also taught me a few things that I am definitely carrying over into the next 365 and hopefully beyond.

 

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Birthday Reflections

*Treat Yourself. This is something that I constantly struggle with, and I know I’m not the only one. Many women have a hard time doing something for themselves. We feel obligated to care and take care of others first before ourselves. Sometimes we don’t treat ourselves because we would rather go without or just spend money on basic things. We don’t see it necessary to spend money on ourselves or that we aren’t worthy of nice things. In fact, we are! We are worthy of nice things and spending some of our hard earned money on that fancy watch, sunglasses, or even a mini shopping spree at Target. The moment we treat ourselves to something that we want and indulge we instantly feel better and our self esteem increases. I’m not saying go crazy and go all out every day but a little treat here and there is good for the soul. It feels awkward at first but I’m not gonna lie-it felt great! I can’t wait to treat myself again!

*Make a Timeline. What goals do you want to accomplish by your next birthday? To accomplish your goal/s make a timeline. Give yourself a deadline and work towards it daily. For example, mine is to get my ACSM Exercise Physiologist Certification. This certification will help me to get a few jobs I have my eye on and further my career. I am planning to make this happen by the end of May. After that my goal is to take my GRE by August and to apply to grad school in the Fall.  Hopefully my dream of going to grad school will come to fruition by my next birthday! #goals

*Read. Over the past few months I’ve been getting a list together of books I want to read or re-read. I feel like I’m spending too much time on media platforms or just wasting time doing mindless activities that my brain is turning to mush (it may not be, but it feels like it at times!). Also, I realized there are so many books I’ve always wanted to read and I don’t know why I haven’t. There are also books that I feel would take on a completely different meaning now that I’m older. I’ll be sharing my “book club” via IG and writing about my thoughts on each novel or short story.

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*Make Time for Friends.  Friendships are very important and honestly with today’s social climate it’s easy to “fake” friendships or forgo social interaction because you think liking a post on IG or FB will keep your friendship alive. These small social interactions aren’t the same as face to face conversations and coffee dates. Also, stop making excuses for reasons not to see your friends-especially if you are beginning to feel a bit down in the dumps. Friends are instant happy and friendships add life to your days/years. Over the next year I’m reaching out to some of my good friends that I miss and reconnect more than FB messages or IG comments. I truly miss some of my old buddies. I need more than cute Xmas and birthday cards.

*Adopt More Mindful and Meaningful Activities. Going back to the reading reflection, I feel disconnected and mushy. This past year it has been on my mind to restart my meditation practice/mindful practice and unplug more often. After being away from a daily mindfulness practice for quite some time and doing mindless behaviors, I feel as if it has made my anxiety worse (I also am feeling guilty about not being consistent in my yoga walking/talking). So I am making plans to replace my screen time with other activities. I’m thinking about going back to journaling, recovery principles, meditation after yoga practice, affirmations, list making, etc…

I believe that adopting these reflections will make for a great trip around the sun. Do you do birthday reflections? If so, what were your reflections?

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Safety Dances With Food

It’s #NEDAwareness Week 2017! Welcome to a week full of recovery stories, eating disorder education, #RecoveryHeros, and so much more. Each year I use all my outlets to reach out and shine a light on eating disorders. I use my social media as tools (FB & IG), this blog, and I am adding a new outlet-my blog, AUM in the Arts. You can check out stories from some of my  yoga peeps about how yoga and/or art has helped them recover from their ED. I will be sharing some of my story on Friday. Until then I guess some blogpost’s here will have to do….

Safety-is not just a dance. Safety-is not just being aware and careful of your surroundings. Safety-is not just a warm hug or embrace from a loved one. Safety-is more than a blanket or stuffed animal. Safety-is and can be food. Ask anyone who suffers from disordered eating or an eating disorder they will all mention “safety food”, also known as “good food”; food that won’t cause binging/purging or your ED to spiral out of control. Just as there are a variety of eating disorders there is a variety of safety foods. Each person will have their own “safe food”/”good food” and of course the dreaded “bad food”.

“Bad food” is the worst. “Bad food” is what your eating disorder has told you is bad for no apparent reason. Sometimes a good food can turn into a bad food, sometimes the opposite happens. Sometimes your food choices change daily.  We do not choose our food preferences. The eating disorder does and most of the time it makes no sense why it chooses certain food and not others. Just because a food is deemed “safe”/”good” doesn’t mean it is healthy, just as a “bad” food is not always unhealthy.

 

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This daily food intake is a dance. Sometimes it’s a Cha-Cha and other days it’s a Jive. Our dance partner is our ED and we have to stay in time with him in order to have a good day and avoid getting ran over by the couple next to us. ED (Melvin) is my partner and no one else can dance with me. I can’t dance with love, happiness, joy, or life. I dance with my food list in three quarter or four four time in hopes of managing my out of control life.

Our “good”/”safe” food and “bad” food list is like a dance syllabus. There are certain foods you eat everyday that won’t cause you to step out of time. There are certain foods that will make the music faster and foods that will cause you to step on Melvin’s feet and he hates that. When  you step on his feet he tells you that you are bad and unworthy-that the only way to undo the damage to his precious feet is to engage in an unhealthy activity.

 

Food lists vary from individual to individual-just like there are dance techniques. My list isn’t the same as my friends and hers isn’t the same as someone she knows. My food list was deeply impacted by my Orthorexia (obsession with clean/healthy/organic eating). Below are just a few of the foods that were on my lists (that I can remember) and to ensure that I stayed on my dancing game this were the foods I ate or avoided daily.

 

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Safe Food

Peanut Butter: Post peanut allergy diagnosis it was Sunflower Butter, to this day I have a hard time eating Sunflower Butter.

Fruit: Any kind, appropriate serving size of course. I still remember the calories in 1 small banana, 1 cup of strawberries, 1 cup of blueberries, etc.

Soup: Vegetable soup (of course!). I loved soup because it was low calorie, you would get full easier and you can eat as much as you want.

Coffee and Lots of It: I NEVER had a “fancy” coffee. If I had a latte it was plain, not even sugar-free syrup, I maybe “treated” myself to a latte once a month or quarter. Most of the time it was just plain black coffee. Zero calories. Zero guilt. More caffeine please!!!!

Salad: Need I say more? Now it’s totally #gagmewithaspoon

Peanut Butter & Apple or Banana Sandwich: 2 TBSP w/ 1/2 fruit on 2 pieces of low cal whole wheat bread. If I had been good or planned to exercise a lot this day or be covered in rehearsals I would add 1 TBSP honey. For a grand total of 300 cals.

Dried Edamame: 1/4 cup at 140 cals=one snack filled with protein and no fat/sugar/carbs. Gimme more!

Egg White(s): Who needs all that cholesterol anyway? Apparently my hormones needed it but Melvin said other wise.

Beans: Black, pinto, garbanzo, white, it didn’t matter. Again, low cal/high protein/high fiber.

Other Foods: dairy free milk (1 cup), cereal (serving size only), green tea, fiber pills, and beer (once I turned 21).

Bad Food

Soft Drinks: Diet, regular, and the Stevia ones. Now how times have changed. I love Diet Coke, #noshame .

Pizza: Unless I had starved myself or was in a huge caloric deficit and needed to refuel only then was pizza appropriate. Then said pizza intake had to be a 1 whole pizza.

Brownies: My all time favorite dessert was also a bad food in the same category as pizza. I could have a brownie if I ran 5 miles, had a two hour rehearsal, and had burned off all my food. GET IN MY BELLY!!! But if not then no brownies. No Way. No How.

Any Sweet Treat: This is just obvious. Sugar. Fat. Calories. No way! Birthdays and holidays were soooo hard!

Potatoes: High GI Index food had no place in my diet, no matter how tasty  or healthy potatoes can be. Potato dishes are some of my favorite foods due to my love of a certain food Melvin made it bad.

Fries: deep fried food and high GI Index? Not a chance.

Pasta: see above.

Carbs/Grains: I was only allowed 1 cup of cereal and two slices of bread (100% whole wheat please!) for my sandwich. I was low carb before it was cool.

Ice Cream: Same category as brownies and pizza.

Juice: Too much sugar. But if juice couldn’t be avoided I would dilute it with lots and lots of water.

Other bad foods: Anything that my ED (Melvin) said was bad. Even if it was on the good list. A “good food” on Monday could be a “bad” food on Tuesday.

 

That last statement: anything that my ED (Melvin) said was bad. Even if it was on the good list. A “good food” on Monday could be a “bad” food on Tuesday. Is the Safety Food Dance. I had to waltz with Melvin and not step on his toes. The minute I was out of time or stepped on his toes he would remind me of how bad I was and then the binge/purge cha-cha would begin.  I’m glad to say that I’m no longer Melvin’s dance partner. His dance syllabus was extremely tiring and not based in technique. Today I do dance with food, but it isn’t a safety dance. It’s a yummy dance. I dance when I make yummy food. I dance when I go somewhere and they make me delicious GF/DF/Vegetarian fare. I dance in the kitchen. No matter what I do with food, I dance.

 

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Phantom of the Gastrointestinal Opera

If you have followed my blog for some time or know me in real life you know all about my  battles with my body. Not just on the eating disorder front, but between all the food allergies, vegetarianism, and my biggest battle…Phantom GI Issues.Phantom GI Issues is a fun name (like how my ED is named Melvin) that I gave my mysterious gastrointestinal disorder. Things always seem to be a bit more bearable when you give them some sort of characteristic or quality. For example Melvin, my ED, is one of those socially awkward nerdy types who doesn’t know when to be quiet and is annoyingly inappropriate. My Phantom GI Issue is similar to the Phantom from the Phantom of the Opera. He is mysterious, loves to whisk me away in the middle of the night, wreak havoc anytime he gets upset/doesn’t get his way, and no one knows where and who he is. One exception, this Phantom isn’t Gerard Butler-who I never thought was cute but I know other women who think otherwise. But I digress….

For over five years I have battled and try to escape the Paris Opera House that my GI Phantom has held me hostage in. For over four years I have spent hundreds of dollars on tests that came back “normal” or “inconclusive”. There has only been one test that came back with a result (a hiatal hernia with H. Pylori) but after that was cured I still suffered from undisclosed sickness. I have spent hours driving to and from doctor’s appointments with underpaid staff and scheduled my life around these appointments. Appointments that I knew would come back “inconclusive” or “you are fine. there is nothing wrong with you”, “it’s just IBS”, “its just stress” etc… There are at least fifty hours of my life I cannot get back because I was in diagnostic testing where each and every test came back with those blasted normal readings. That gallbladder ultrasound=negative…but lets test your gallbladder function–that test (three hours long!) came back regular. Let’s have a small bowel function test (trust me you never want this!!!! never!!!!) came back regular. Let’s draw six viles of your blood because you may not have any antibodies. Let’s have you breathe into a bag and see if you still have H. Pylori. Let’s give you all this medicine that makes your symptoms worse or doesn’t work at all.  Ooo a nice ER trip is just the best way to spend date night with your husband….

 

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While all this is going on I am trying to learn to love myself. As a yoga instructor and a dance instructor of mini’s I’m always talking about “self-love”, “body positivity”, “love who you are”….all things I’ve been trying to do since I started recovery about six years ago.  I talk a good game but deep down I still don’t like myself-I like myself more than I used to, thank you yoga and fringe arts-but the Phantom made it really hard for me to make peace with my body. I longed to nourish properly. I longed to not care as much about what I look. I longed to live what I teach 100%. But I…Just…Couldn’t.

I kept thinking, “how can I love my body when it doesn’t love me?”.  Why treat it with respect and lovingkindness when no matter what I do the Phantom had other plans? Why sing aria’s of anti-inflammatory smoothies when I get booed? Why dance to beautiful music of the best gluten free/vegan, roasted red pepper pasta with a glass of my favorite wine, when the Phantom would drop a chandelier on me? Why treat my body with respect, like the temple that it is, when obviously the Phantom says otherwise.

 

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I look at my body and I see torture. I see the torture and tug of war between the Phantom, Melvin, and myself. How I want and long to overcome it, but it’s beyond difficult. I just can’t love myself when I’m strung out over the toilet clinging for dear life. I just can’t love myself when my favorite safe food makes me sick. I just can’t love myself when the Phantom holds me hostage underneath the opera house and I can’t go out with my friends.

However, times are changing. The Phantom has had his time. I am playing his last opera and then burning down the opera house. I have found out what he was clinging too-what he was using to keep me from loving myself. I am on the mend. Moving on from the flames of the Paris Opera house but still aware of the Phantom. With my new meds and new (accurate!!!!!) diagnosis I can begin to heal. I can begin a relationship with my body unlike one I’ve had before. I am taking small steps but I see a new beautiful opera house in the mist. I don’t know how long it will take to get there, but with the Phantom managed and behind me, I can sing an aria of anti inflammatory smoothies and dance with red wine all the way to the opera house.

 

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Great Expectations

“All expectation creates disappointment”-Steve Ross, Happy Yoga

 

Don’t worry, this isn’t a book review of the Dickens classic. Honestly, I’ve never read the book. I’ve just watched the glorious 90s movie version with Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke.But there are some similarities between the theme of that book and today’s blog topic. Each and everyone of us has expectations. There are expectations of ourselves and expectations of others. While there are merits to these expectations and they can be used as a guide to navigate relationships they can also ruin them. Both types of expectations can destroy relationships and can be set so high that they set us up for failure.

First lets talk about expectations of ourselves. From the time we are born expectations are placed on us. Who remembers what your parents expected of you? Were you expected to make all A’s, be in every extra curricular, play musical instruments, excel at a sport or two or three, be the best Christian in your youth group, never say a bad word, “act like a lady” (my favorite), be home by 10 pm, never let people see you struggle, be on top and in control of e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g…you were expected to be the best. Maybe you were expected to be just “OK”. Not quite the over achiever but make decent grades, play one sport, “act like you have class” (another great one!). How about being the brunt of low expectations. You were expected to just get by without getting in trouble or ending up in juvenile detention, or “not being like your dad/mom” (parents have brilliant moments don’t they?).

 

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Where did those expectations come from? Who is responsible for telling us what is expected of us before they understand who we are, what are circumstances are, and where we are in the moment? Unfortunately, most people cannot answer this. Growing up I would ask my parents all the time why they believed in something or why we did certain things (most of the time it pertained to a religious aspect but sometimes it was about why they believed what they did) and all I could get was “that’s just what we do” or “that’s just how it’s always been”. I  never liked that answer. These expectations of “what is becoming of a young woman” (I got that at least 2-3 x/month) , “what love is like”, “only good girls who make all A’s get into college” or whatever else pertained to you growing up shapes how you view the world, view others, and view yourself.

In addition to familial, cultural, and societal expectations placed upon us we begin to generate our own expectations. I’ll share with you one of my expectations. I treat everyone fairly and with kindness (As much as I can I am only human). I expect for people to do the same for me. I’m a firm believer in the golden rule and the whole concept of karma (law of action). We all have expectations and place them on others whether we want to admit it or not. When someone fails my expectations and doesn’t reciprocate kindness for kindness *insert your expectation* I am hurt, disappointed, and angry.  I constantly find myself saying to my husband, “I just don’t understand how people aren’t nice”, “I don’t understand why people can’t be kind”, “I’ve been nothing but nice, considerate, and giving. What do I get in return? Nothing! Not even a thank you note!”.  I recently experienced this first hand. I was very upset that all my  hard and free work, my life, my soul was given to an institution. When it was all said and done, I gave my thank you notes, kinds words and nothing was reciprocated. I immediately lost all control and wanted to drop all contact with the institution and individual. I expected them to see my hard work and give me what I was seeking for-kindness and appreciation.After some long venting sessions with the husband I realized that they didn’t know my expectations. That not everyone shares my same opinions on how to treat people. It isn’t their problem, but mine for projecting and expecting them to be how I want them to be.   These failed expectations also lead us to judgemental behavior, “if only they were raised better they would know that is how you do x-y-z etc…”. And judging gets you no where! No one likes to be judged…

 

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So where do these expectations truly come from? Everything we know and believe is a construct of society.  For example, if you grow up in upper middle class America you are per-dispositioned to one kind of expectations–need I say more? If you are like me and grow up in the South there are plenty of expectations set upon both sexes–that’s a whole different post.  When we dive deep into finding where the construct was originated you again find a muddled mess.I never thought much about constructs and where we get our mindset till I read the book Happy Yoga by Steve Ross. Ross defines social concepts as, “a mental construct unverifiable in the moment by experience. It is a framework of thoughts and beliefs in the mind as opposed to an actual experience in awareness” (17). He goes on to say, “Concepts are in the mind. They are inferred and often useless and illusory. Experience is the real thing; it occurs in the present moment. Concepts are labels that keep us thinking about the world”(18).

It is up to us to challenge our expectations and constructs. Explore where they come from and what good do they do us. Upon examining them maybe you will find that they keep you from seeing the best in people and developing relationships with others. That they do more harm than good. They actually don’t guide you but destroy you. Maybe your expectations don’t do that this going within leads you somewhere else. I’d love to know what you find.

 

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