I was recently listening to a podcast where the speaker was sharing a story. In the story, a daughter was sitting next to her elderly mother who was lying in a bed and dying. As the daughter was sitting at the bedside, her mother came out of a comatose state and with her last moments on this earth she took her remaining strength, opened her eyes and mumbled this one sentence: “All my life I thought there was something wrong with me.” It was at this point in the speaker’s story that I paused for deep thought. What a heavy statement and not only is it difficult to digest and process but then to realize that these were her last dying words, a piece of her parting thoughts on this earth.
The podcast went on to talk about the common thoughts and feelings most of us share. The occasional feelings of not being good enough, believing that in some way we are flawed more than others or that we are not living life to our fullest potential… that we are not meeting the expectations we’ve set for ourselves. Some of us are more aware of these thoughts and feelings that pass through our mind. We try to embrace the thoughts and dissect the various feelings that are associated with them. Others of us suppress the thoughts to the subconscious and we label them as unwelcoming. We allow them to dissipate from our here and now and fill the void with something more pleasurable. As I think back to the elderly woman’s last dying words, I can’t help but feel sad. I think about how terrible it must feel to be dying and yet dealing with a thought so heavy, so incomplete and mysterious that it unmistakably holds immense pain and sadness… pain and sadness that has built year upon year… and yet deep down I think I can relate. I don’t want to admit it and at first thought. I think it’s because admitting it might make me weaker, less appealing or bleak but if I’m honest with myself I think it’s true. All of the sudden with more thought I realize that the expectations certain family members put on me weigh heavy… the expectations I put on myself, the expectations I think others expect such as a crowd of supporters expecting me to win a competition. Are you seeing a theme here? EXPECTATIONS. How much of it is reality and yet how much of it is blown out of proportion with our own inward and spiraling thoughts? There is such a heavy burden that comes with fulfilling the expectations that we have set for ourselves or those that others have placed before us. I think I can say with near certainty that it’s not healthy. It causes stress and sadness and what’s worse is that we don’t often notice how much these expectations can weigh on our everyday lives and how much they build up over time.
Thinking about this whole topic has brought about awareness; awareness that every single human being on this planet has flaws and fortes. Some of us are better at image crafting than others but one thing is certain, we all have our ups and downs. We all have areas within our life where we want to improve and we’ve all had glorious moments where we’ve felt on top of the world.
So my question of the day has become this: How can we be mindful with our thoughts and actions so that we don’t end up on our deathbed with regrets and feelings of being incomplete? If you have insight to the answer, please share your thoughts. The best that I can come up with at this moment is to be content. Accept that life moves like the waves of the ocean and that no matter where you live, what your salary is or what age you are, you will go through the highs and the lows that inevitably occur with life. Love who you are, adopt a way of life that satisfies your core values, be the best you can possibly be and create meaningful moments in your everyday being. Accept that you cannot and will not make everyone happy but in turn understand how heavy that disappointment can weigh on someone and offer unconditional understanding to those around you… don’t lay expectations on someone else if the expectations have the potential of weighing heavy on their mind and causing harm. Instead replace those expectations with guidance, love, insight and compassion.
Finally, live in the moment and “Be.Here.Now.” don’t wait until tomorrow to be happy, until next week to apologize or for magical moments to fall into your lap. I believe the saying goes “The harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” so I encourage you, myself and others to find that balance. Weed out the heavy expectations that sit on our shoulders and find the tranquility that comes with caring for ourselves, setting our minds to a task that we believe in and living our lives to our fullest potential. At the same time, accept that your attempts won’t be perfect… and in the end, that imperfection is more than okay. It is normal and unavoidable.