Why am I so tired?
You know that feeling of being tired, but wired at the same time? Or too tired to function so you’re running on fumes and you’re just impressed with how much you can go?
Why do people expect me to be different?
I’ve been feeling so exhausted the past couple of weeks. Well, months to be honest. For some reason, I’ve been a roller coaster of highs and lows, more than usual. I’ve been in the red zone, living on adrenaline and cortisol and I’m fucking tired of being exhausted.
Because I am not a professional, I did what anyone else would do. Research.
Psychologists and scholars are calling it Zoom Fatigue, Crisis Fatigue, Covid Fatigue, whatever it’s called, it’s pretty obvious the world is tired.
So it got me thinking: why are we all so tired from even the smallest things?
So here’s what I found. Actually, this is how i understand it.
What does being tired have to do with expectations?
Fatigue is the unproportional return of rewards on efforts or trade offs we make every day. In other, very simplified words, we get mentally tired every time the cons outweigh the pros of the outcome of our actions or decisions.
Many of us have always struggled to fulfill expectations of others.
Today, it’s just more… palpable because we lack interpersonal, face to face communication, so much of what we want to say gets lost in translation. I mean let’s face it, we talk more to people who aren’t physically with us, than the ones in our homes, right?
So here’s the struggle: expectations aren’t as much about you as they are about the other person.
Because expectations are formulated in someone else’s mind, they’re rarely rooted in reality.
Friends, lovers, bosses, they have an image of you in their mind that isn’t authentically you. And every time you don’t live up to what they expected of you, your feeling of reward is also much lower.
The payoff wasn’t equal to tradeoff.
In the same vein, expectations are often unrealistic. They don’t necessarily take into account your abilities or your desires, sometimes what’s even possible or reasonable.
Why do expectations always seem impossible to meet?
Most of us have more than one person of influence in our lives, and since no two people have the same perspective, so it’s statistically impossible to please everyone at once.
As a people pleaser, I constantly put this unnecessary pressure on myself to please everyone. I know you know what I mean, and I know you know how much if a struggle that is.
And in those cases, compromises have to be made, meaning not all expectations are fulfilled. Automatically, your mental system tells you something ain’t right.
As humans, we have a natural tendency to pin our hopes for happiness on expectations. But expecting others to do what is in your interest, but not always in their interest, is also unrealistic.
Giving too much of ourselves to meet or exceed expectations conditions people to assume that we will always try to go over and beyond at each and every opportunity.
Finally, we need to understand that expecting something to happen, won’t just make it happen.
Expectations are mostly based on implicit social contracts that aren’t clearly defined or even expressed. As a result, we make interpretations and assumptions instead. We can’t act on what we don’t know.
So if you believe that what you want will end up how you expected without doing anything, you’re wishful thinking. This becomes more problematic when someone else is involved in the desired outcome.
If in the morning, you want coffee and you go out and see that there isn’t any, you’re not gonna throw a fit at the coffee because it didn’t make itself.
But if that same morning, you wanted coffee and someone else in the house made coffee but barely left any for you, wouldn’t you be a bit more upset because “they should’ve been more considerate”?
How can I take care of myself, when I’m busy doing other things?
What I’m saying is, common sense or not, it would be unfair to expect other people to act exactly how you’d like them to, especially if you didn’t tell them.
Accumulating all those emotions and disappointments gets exhausting.
It eventually leads to resentment. Which according to the online dictionary, officially means the feeling of persistent ill-will at something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury.
How can I better manage myself to meet expectations and avoid fatigue?
But the key to not being resentful and not being tired isn’t in fighting or rebelling against expectations.
It’s not really in practicing empathy, trying not to resent the people around you. It’s in keeping yourself and your expectations in check.
You know how inflight instructions tell adults to put on their oxygen mask first then put it on on kids?
These are strangers who have the legal obligation to take care of you when you’re thousands of kilometres in the air. Yet they tell you to take care of yourself first because only you can do that when shit hits the fan.
If you can’t breathe, how will you save your baby?
More than time, prioritize your energy so can have more to give to others. Make the effort to know what you want. And what your set of actions are.
This comes in handy especially when we’re put on the spot, in a difficult, awkward situation. Since you can’t control what others think about you, we tend to go for the path of least resistance, or at least go for plausible deniability.
In these cases, the outcome more often than won’t be our best case scenario. We end up telling ourselves, it could’ve been worse. At best, that we got lucky.
But when you do the work and decide on your default actions, not only are you managing your energy and your emotions better, you’re avoiding disappointment, guilt and resentment.
Then you’ll start to be clearer with what your expectations are, and in the same way, you’ll demand clear and realistic expectations from others.
Won’t I be disappointing other people, or worse, selling myself short?
It means setting limits in your life, across all aspects, that you define. What your will or will not tolerate. Boundaries.
More often than not, we believe that we have them. I’m pretty sure you know your boundaries right?
When when boundaries are crossed, it feels awkward at best, violating at worst. And then I ask, how many times have you felt that way, this month alone?
So in reality, most of us don’t know our boundaries, and here’s the thing I realized thanks to a friend, sup V!
If we don’t know our boundaries, we allow people to cross them, and in return, we cross theirs as well. My mind was blown.
For example, she made me aware that I didn’t enforce time boundaries enough. I wasn’t even aware that I needed time boundaries until I felt like I had zero control over my time. I didn’t tell other people that certain times weren’t good or reasonable for, because i assumed it was obvious.
When I started being more respectful of my own time and forcing myself to not procrastinate, I slowly started to notice other activities within that boundary.
Then I had a bit more confidence so I would either silently claim my time or respectfully request others to be mindful of our time.
I felt more authentic towards myself, more productive, more connected with others, and most of all, less cheated.
So extract yourself from situations with boundaries that don’t enable you to grow. Whether they’re environments, people, or your own limiting beliefs.
Why do we hate “toxic” people? Cause they drain the soul and life of us. They’re human dementors. Toxicity breeds and creates more toxicity.
It’s a lot easier said than done. Especially the first step. Of evaluating where you’re at right now. Why you’re so exhausted. Why you feel like you don’t have the right to rest. Or why you feel like you have no choice.
No matter how strong of a person you are, even if you’re the toughest motherfucker out there, admitting you’re tired and allowing yourself to be tired is a huge step.
It’s uncomfortable and awkward to figure out how to assert your boundaries with others. You’ll feel inadequate, but I mean it, it’ll feel like taking a glorious shit, that massive sense of relief when you teach yourself to be aware of what’s not good for you, chucking it out and making space. For yourself.
Some Indian wise dude who didn’t like to eat much and made his own clothes said:
The outward freedom that we shall attain will only be in exact proportion to the inward freedom to which we may have grown at a given moment. And if this is a correct view of freedom, our chief energy must be concentrated on achieving reform from within.”
1. It’s not your job to change or fix other people.
2. It is not your job to prove yourself or gain approval from other people.
3. You don’t owe anybody, anything beyond a basic level of civility.
Thank you so much, and I honestly appreciate you for making it this far. Our conversations about previous topics have been so lovely and enriching, please don’t stop!
I hope to see you next time. Well no, actually, I hope YOU tune in next time because there’s a bunch of pretty cool people who made the time to share their experiences about this month’s topic. And if you haven’t guessed it, it’s Expectations.
Be Brave, Be Kind,
Originally published at https://itsmilesagain.com on September 3, 2020.