Issue 11 November 2005
Get Real About What You Can Realistically Expect of Yourself
Let me ask you, How many of you would drive your
car when the gas gauge reads empty or the oil light is flashing?
I know that some of you would. You have to listen to this CD at
least three more times? Just kidding, but, think about it for
a minute, for those of you who have children, would you ever ask
your child to pull an all-nighter to prepare for a test or a final
exam? Absolutely not. Yet we continually push ourselves past the
Most of us are caught in a tug-of-war between who
we think we should be and who we are; between what we want to
do and what we’re actually able to do. In other words, we’re
at the mercy of our guilt demons. Our feelings of guilt often
prevent us from taking care of ourselves. These feelings often
stem from unrealistic expectations. When you stop to think about
it, you’ll realize that you have impossible ideals that
you strive to live up to—ideals like, “I must always
put other people’s needs first,” or “I should
never disappoint anyone.” These kinds of standards are not
only impossible to meet, but they wreak havoc on your life. When
you let yourself be driven by perfectionism, guilt and unattainably
high standards you become irritable, grumpy, and unable to function
well. Ignore your own needs long enough, and I guarantee, sooner
or later Godzilla will emerge wreaking havoc and suffering on
you, your entire family, friends and co-workers.
First and foremost, we have to have realistic expectations.
I’m talking about what you can reasonably expect of yourself.
Time and time again, we demand that we act more generously than
we feel, give more than we have to give, and push ourselves beyond
our limits. This is a surefire recipe for disaster. How long do
you think you can function under these conditions? Not very long,
and certainly not very well.
Guilt is a major roadblock to our taking care of
ourselves. There’s always a list of things that have to
be done that take precedence over attending to our needs. Then
there’s the fear of who you’ll disappoint someone
if you occasionally make yourself a priority. But stop and consider
for a moment that when you put yourself last on the list and allow
your guilt to run your life the person who you continually disappoint
Think back to the last time you were on an airplane.
Remember the instructions the flight attendant gave when you were
about to take off, “in case of an emergency first place
the oxygen mask securely around you nose and mouth and then place
it on your child or someone next to you who needs assistance.”
This notion needs to run through every aspect of your life.
The truth is, you have to come first, at least some
of the time. I know this probably makes you uncomfortable since
it goes against everything you’ve been taught as women.
Yet, the reality is that it’s only to the extent that you
love and care for yourself that you’re truly able to love
and care for others.