I’ve been on a bit of an uncomfortable journey the last few months. Sometimes life goes so skippingly along and you find beautiful picnic spots, laughing streams, glorious mountain lakes and sun dampled fields.
Life seems to make reasonable sense, or so you convince yourself. One day, you wake to a strange sensation and you realize that not everything is as it seems, and foreign clouds are rolling in, threatening your brain waves.
What do you do when faced with change and expectations? Those deep inner rumblings reveal so very much about who you really are.
Sometimes sunshine hides the shadows of the soul and only when storms and night take over do the true colors come into existence. Sometimes it’s just a bit hard to actually get to know the person hiding out in those shadows. The person you thought you are and the person you actually are and the person you were meant to be do not always play nicely together. It can be confusing to sort them out and also a bit scary.
Recently I picked up a book at the library that has been on my list for quite awhile. It’s a book that reveals the four general ways people relate to expectations/deadlines.
To do a complete, quick survey, google the website above and check it out! There’s a lot of fascinating information to read through, and lots of great tips in understanding why you react the way you do to expectations.
But back to this whole reaction thing, recently the company I work with had an amazing promotion. You could earn a cruise to the Bahamas, by helping your team members build their businesses and build your own at the same time.
Guys, I was ON FIRE. Years ago, my husband and I had booked a cruise, just the two of us, through a deep discount offer from a credit card company. It was all paid for, and we were going to have an amazing, relaxing time. That cruise never happened because of circumstances that we felt were beyond our control at that time. Honestly? It wasn’t fair. But that is history. 😊
Now this cruise that I could earn, well, it was right down my alley. I wanted to take my husband on that cruise. I knew about hard work and facing fears and dreaming big. I even felt like God wanted me on that cruise in a really big way. I had a talk with Him about it, and He told me to go for it….to jump all in and work hard and He would take care of the rest. So I did.
One of my default modes is busyness. I can stay up crazy hours of the night and run on fumes the next day if I have a fire burning in me. That’s what I did. I worked until midnight and one night until 2 AM . I had goals, baby, and nothing was going to stop me. I could feel it happening. The magic danced in front of my eyes. I tasted the sting of ocean water. I was up early to accomplish more goals. I hired a sitter for my boys once a week so I could have uninterrupted time to work. I lived, breathed, and dreamed work. I bolstered myself up with other people’s hard work as well. I watched videos, took training, planned events and lived my business as whole heartedly as I could.
The weeks slipped by and I realized that only a miracle would get me on that ship. Spots were filling up fast and I still had miles to go. Then the rejections began to set in. It was nothing personal. Just walls and closed doors every way I turned. I was tired. I felt like my family was not getting the care they deserved. The self doubt crept in and one morning, I knew that this was it. I would likely not make it. I sat on the bathroom floor and bawled my eyes out. I was mopping tears from my face, ugly crying, angry, and horribly disappointed in myself. Everything I had worked so hard for seemed to be at a standstill. I heard only silence and the scoff of my own heart. I was eventually asked to accompany my friend as her guest, and my heart thrilled with the hope that I actually HAD heard God correctly and I really would go. Circumstances prevented me from going with her as well, and my heart died a bit more.
Though this painful disappointment, I learned some vital things about myself. As much as I wanted to be on that cruise, I wanted to prove something to myself even more. I wanted to prove that I could do something hard. That I was not a fraud or a fake. When I didn’t meet my own high expectations that were truly a far stretch, I began a mantra of self blame. I felt like a failure and a loser and all the times I never stuck something out came back to haunt me. All the lies I believed as a girl pounded on my mind’s door and I felt like a scared, confused, helpless child who could never measure up to expectations of others. While in my heart, I knew I was going to be ok eventually, my mind was a battlefield of questions and accusation.
One thing became evident. I was feeling worse about ‘failing’ in the eyes of others then I was about not going on that trip. I was more disappointed in myself then I was about not getting on that boat. I questioned the very core of who I was and was ruthless in the pursuit of discovering it. Ironically, I faced a paradox. The more I dove into the core of my heart, the more I discovered that most of all, I needed to give myself grace and space and quiet. I needed to find time to sit in silence and learn the art of stillness. I needed to stretch into the fullness of who I was and let God lead me into who I was to become. I needed to let go of the idea of perfection and revel in the beauty of humanity. I needed to embrace myself so I could embrace others.
Reading the Four Tendency’s was a clarifying reality check for me.
As a general summery, there are 4 ways, that people relate to expectations.
The Obliger- “You can count on me. I’m counting on you to count on me.”
The Questioner- “I’ll comply – if you convince me why. ”
The Rebel- ” You can’t make me , and neither can I.”
The Upholder- ” Discipline is my freedom.”
I am a classic Obliger. It’s why in the past, I have volunteered for things, and then unfairly expected my husband to help out or pick up the slack when I was too tired or overwhelmed to finish. It’s why I have a hard time knowing what I want to do or when I want to do it….” what ever you want is fine with me.” Classic Obliger, Anita.
I am happy when others are happy. I have set expectations for myself that no one even asked me to set simply because I took the responsibility to do it a few times…so doesn’t everyone expect me to continue? I also bury myself in helping others and working my tail off, then crashing into bed, feeling sorry for myself because no one appreciates my hard work or tells me to take a break. If you are not an Obliger, this is likely Greek to you. Why would some one work themselves to the bone and then expect sympathy? Why wouldn’t you take care of yourself so you can perform at higher levels of efficiency ? And why is everyone else’s problem your responsibility?
On the other hand, I am great at caring for others. I can sacrifice hours of my time quite happily and if I know that going to the gym is important to my husband, then I will go work myself into a sweat. I give. I love. I laugh. But I also burn out.
My burnouts are not pretty or glorious. They look like a shut down and feel like a rebel. I have unhealthily buried myself in ‘another project ‘ in the past to avoid feeling that rebel. Part of my struggle over the past months has been a deep disappointment in myself. I found myself saying, ” I NEVER stick to anything successfully.”
Here’s the eye opener. Being an Obliger has that exact tendency. In the past, I was seldom given credit at sticking something out, because I was constantly flitting from idea to idea. One helpful ‘progect’ to the next. Life also threw me lots of curve balls that made long term accountability impossible in some areas. I jumped around a lot. That is prime country for Obligers.
As an Obliger, without accountability and deep mindfulness we can easily fall into the trap of performing for the love of performing for others. Losing our hearts for the expectations of pleasing our family and friends can look like the deepest satisfaction, but one day, we wake up, and realize that we have lost ourselves and our vision in the progress. What started as a good thing has morphed into an unfamiliar sense of overwhelm. That’s where silence, rest, and self care come in. That’s where goals need to be revisited, genuine gifts called out, and lost of praying done. It’s where accountability to oneself and others needs to be firmly established and the curtain raised on a new beginning. It’s where self care is not selfish.
I’m still trying to find my way, but through this whole realization, I came to a fuller understanding of why I have been so disappointed in myself in the past. I have an impossibly hard time of keeping any commitment I make to myself. I need people around me to remind me of my goals and how important they are before I wonder off and get sidetracked in emptying the dishwasher or chasing another idea of service.
I also remembered that earlier this year, God asked me to write my story. That perhaps He wanted me to work so hard and then miss that cruise so He could get my attention and tell me to take time for other important things as well, like following through with His direction. That I need accountability to sit down and write daily instead of doing the 100 endless other things that are never going to go away. That dreams are worth pursuing and my company will have more great adventures available in the future.
I’m an Obliger and I am a romantic and although it’s crazy unhandy at times, I know that I have a job to do in this world that is specific for me. I’m proud of my God. Proud of the work and love He has poured into me. I will shine. It may be a strange glow of rubbing my lamp at midnight, but with His grace, it will be beautiful.
Join me? The Rebel. The Questioner. The Upholder. The other Obliger. ( by the way, we Obligers dominate the population according to research) ☺️
Together we will find our strengths and change the world.