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  • marlienligtenberg

How to deal with high expectations (of yourself).

Oops, I fell for it again. Last Saturday I went rowing. My lower back was painful. It is my weak spot anyway, and I started physiotherapy. I had a first session Friday. But the next day my back pain was really worse! I got in the boat anyway. And unconsciously I expected the exact same from myself as in a normal situation. Big mistake. My expectations were too high. My back was not well. Every stroke was painful. But, I didn't accept that. I just wanted to have a good row! Plus, we are training for races. So I thought: 'I can't afford a bad outing!' I got more and more frustrated. I was so angry with myself for being weak. 'Come on, just ignore the pain and go for it!'

The outing was terrible. I ruined it for myself and my rowing buddy. And I realized: this is not working. So I sat myself down after the outing to reflect. I asked myself: 'What is happening and how can I react differently next time?' My conclusion: I am afraid to be weak. I discovered that underneath my behavior was the thought: 'I am weak if one outing doesn't go right. I am weak if I admit that my back hurts and I have to stop.' My worst case scenario is that people think: 'This girl is useless. She is not ready to race, write her off for the season. In fact, kick her out of the club!' That thought is not true! Once I realized that that is what my brain thinks, I could change the perspective. One bad row doesn't make me totally useless. What helps even more to really believe that, is to exaggerate that limiting belief. To admit it! So I said to myself: 'Yes I am a weak person. Totally useless. I am like a 85 year old grandma. It's a miracle they let me in the boat!' When I made the thought absurd, big and agree with it, I could laugh about it. And this is not my wisdom, I got this tip from a Dutch podcast. For the Dutchies: this is one of the methods that Berthold Gunster uses in his podcast 'Omdenken.' He is brilliant. He helps people to solve their problems. Check it out! So yesterday evening I went to the gym at the rowing club. The rest of the crew was training. I went for the grandma programme. I did a lot of stretching. I spend some time on the home trainer cycling. And after the session I drank a glass of red wine because I was proud of myself. I can really feel the trust: if I slow down now, it only will help me to speed up later. And yes, happy to be a grandma for a while. So to summarize the steps how to deal with high expectations:

  • It helps to explore what is underneath your struggle. What limiting belief is there?

  • Get to the core. It helps to ask yourself; what is the absolute worst thing that could people say about me? Imagine they say it behind your back. And when you feel: 'Ah, that is painful!' you are in the right spot.

  • Make that thought absurd. And agree with it! In my case: 'I am a weak grandma who is useless!' Say that a few times and notice the relief.

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