You Create What You Tolerate – A Guide on Letting Go

Does it sometimes feel like Satan himself scribed your to-do list? A piece of paper that lists EVERYTHING you want to get done in a ridiculous time frame with very little reward for doing so. Sounds fun.

Ok fine, I get it. You’re organized, efficient and writing it down itself can seem like a stress reliever. Maybe it means you’re a mom that’s “adulting” and brain fog is real. I get that part too.

Setting goals is amazing. I preach it all the time! However I will not let you set unruly expectations of yourself and feel like a failing blob at the end of the night because you’re not super human.

If this doesn’t seem to hit a cord and you are not a “to-do lister” than let me ask you if any of these scenarios seem to ring a bell…

  • You wanted to begin a new lifestyle modification (exercise, clean eating plan, meditating, journaling, setting aside 20 percent of your salary into savings, etc) and it just didn’t work out as planned, or every other time you “planned” to do this. You tell yourself, I can’t do this; maybe it’s just not me. I failed again, go figure.

  • Planned to start a project (photo album, Christmas cards, a book, organizing a closet... and then procrastinated… and procrastinated. Again, guilt, shame, self-doubt and disappointment set in.

  • What if you decided to “better yourself” by slowing down on lashing out at your kids, communicating with your partner, or showing those in your life more appreciation... it’s a nice thought, but never stuck.

You see my point.

I could give a hundred examples of this but the theme is setting expectations that only result in feeling disappointed, stressed and overwhelmed.

Here’s the thing, I don’t mind the failure part, failure is excellent! I genuinely see it as a mandatory prerequisite to success. What I have a problem with, is the expectations and how you alter your internal dialogue when it doesn’t turn out as you hoped.

When we have an ideal in our heads at all times, what we are doing is creating a measuring stick for our lives. A tool of comparison for gaging “how we are doing” and an opportunity for us to see our expectations as gospel. “Who cares about right now, this is who I am suppose to be”. If we focus too closely on what we should be or become, we rob ourselves the opportunity of seeing ourselves as we are, and appreciating that, right now.

So what happens if we set ourselves up every single day, only to feel disappointed over and over? Well, you lose trust. You lose trust in yourself. You begin to expect failure from yourself. You believe that others can change, but not you. You feel overwhelmed and triggered by to-do lists, goals or hobbies. The “tasks” in your life “need to get done” but you feel unequipped to do them.

THIS is the true problem.

So, how do we get our shit done, feel accomplished and motivated to keep going, without all the baggage?

The answer is to hold less tightly to our expectations of others and ourselves. Hell, what is we just swapped our expectations for observations? Take a bit of pressure off and give ourselves a breather. Sceptical? Bare with me. Lets see if we can learn to love reality.

Watch your words:

Swap words like “have to” and “should” FOR “I’d love to” “I have the opportunity to” or “I WANT to”. You will notice a remarkable shift in how you feel. K let’s break this down..

Example 1:

  • Actual to do list: pick up daughter, take her to dance, grab groceries and make dinner (AH!)

  • Let’s say: “I have the opportunity to pick up my daughter, I love watching her dance and when we come home, we’re fortunate enough to afford groceries and make dinner. Not everyone has this luxury. It’s a crazy day, but I bet someday I’ll be missing these.”

Example 2:

  • Ho hum: “I should really start going to the gym. I gained an extra 10 lbs recently and will never get it off. Problem is, who has time to go to the gym anyway? I might go once, then quit. One time won’t give me abs, so I best not waste my time and go at all.”

  • Let’s say: “Ya know what, I work my ass off and I deserve to find something for me that I love. I’d also like to stay active, maybe I’ll try going to the gym, if it’s not for me, that’s fine. I’m focused on finding something that I love and will keep me active because I deserve it.”

Notice your expectations:

Whatever you are doing at any time, stop and see if you are setting unreasonable expectations of yourself or getting stuck in a comparison game. If you notice it, just let it go. Humour me for now with this, or at least until you start trusting it yourself, I guarantee you the world will fall off it’s axis during this shift.

What’s holding you back?

Notice what may be stopping you from feeling accomplished, hitting your goal, or holds you back from meeting your intention. Don’t focus on the failure; focus on how to shift it. If you feel like you’re constantly letting yourself down – then evaluate it. Are your expectations too high or ridiculous, if yes, let that shit go. If you are setting realistic intentions and still not focused or meeting them, then let’s look into why? Do you actually want to be doing that? Did you evaluate what needs to change in your environment that will allow you to succeed? For instance: you set the intention to go to the gym because you genuinely want to for yourself, but you stay up until midnight and can’t seem to get your behind out of bed for 6 am for a quick work out. You see where I’m going with this. If you GENUINELY want something, set an intention (key – without clinging to it) and evaluate how to get it done.

These strategies allow you to feel contented in all moments of your life. Letting our guard down, dropping expectations and being kind to ourselves, in fact, will enhance your overall wellbeing and productivity, not hurt.

Just let it go. Trust yourself enough to give it a shot. What do you have to lose – self-criticism, disappointment, shame and anxiety? Great. Glad to have you on board.

Dr. Mal

Mallory Ryan