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A lot of times we compare ourselves to others. With this comparing, we also place unrealistic expectations on ourselves. Learn more about why we do this, how it affects us, and how to stop.

A woman standing in a kitchen with one arms stirring a pot of food and the other typing on a laptop

Expectations. We all have them.

  • We expect our trash bins to be emptied and taken to the dump on trash day.
  • We expect the grocery store to have fresh fruits and veggies in stock.
  • We expect that after being red for a certain amount of time, a stoplight will turn green again.

We also have expectations of people

  • We expect our postal worker to deliver our mail.
  • We expect our kids to sleep through the night at a certain age.
  • We expect our family to love us.

But we also tend to have expectations of ourselves.

And it’s my observation that, especially as women, these tend to be unrealistic expectations. We expect too much of ourselves than is realistic for us, or anyone, to accomplish.

I know I’m guilty of this, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

The Unrealistic Expectations We Place on Ourselves

We have these unrealistic expectations that we’ll be able to be exceptional in a wide variety of areas.

  • We expect to maintain a clean and well-decorated home, always.
  • We expect to cook delicious and healthy meals every day, multiple times a day for our families.
  • We expect to look a certain way–dress a certain way, do our hair and makeup a certain way, and adhere to other “beauty standards.”
  • We expect to spend quality time with everyone we know–our spouse, our kids, our friends, our neighbors, our parents, extended family, those in need.
  • We expect to workout multiple times per week, if not daily.
  • We expect to serve and volunteer.
  • We expect to have a good job that also doesn’t take us away from our families too much.
  • We expect to have hobbies, to have fun, and to relax.

We place so many expectations on ourselves, that we give ourselves no possible chance of success.

Where Do Unrealistic Expectations Come From?

Some of us place more expectations on ourselves than others, so part of it, I believe, is personality. But another huge factor is the society we live in.

We’re constantly bombarded with snapshots into the lives of people around us and people we don’t even know. With reality television, social media, and other entertainment forms, we’re constantly bombarded with visions of the way other people live their lives.

And it all looks so glamourous. So peaceful. So put together and balanced and perfect.

But what we’re typically seeing is the highlight reel. We’re not seeing all the bad days, all the chaos behind the camera, all the hurt and the pain and the bad habits and the insecurities and the REALITY.

How This Affects Us

So we’re seeing all these beautiful images, and it makes us feel like we need to be and do and have those things.

We see Suzie with her perfectly dressed and matching family who always look like it’s picture day, complete with done up hair, clean faces (seriously, how do her kids’ faces always stay so clean?), and perfectly ironed non-stained clothes. So we think our family needs to be the same way.

Then we see Caroline with her everything-made-from-scratch, all organic meals and kids who eat every vegetable on earth–some of which we’ve never even heard of–and we think we’re failing because our kids don’t eat enough vegetables and if we don’t start making everything organic and from scratch, they’re going to die.

Then we see Elizabeth with her awesome and successful business and wonder how she manages to do it all–maintain a well-functioning household, raise kids, and run this business. Plus, she makes it look so easy! So we feel like we’re not doing enough, and definitely not well enough.

And on and on and on we compare ourselves to others.

The Reality

But the reality is that the Suzies and the Carolines and the Elizabeths, while they have their strengths, have weaknesses too. Just like us.

We’re comparing their best–what they’re really good at, what’s most important to them–to something that isn’t our strength and maybe isn’t even all that important to us.

It may not be that important to us to have our family look like we’ve stepped out of a photo shoot every day. And that’s okay!

It’s also okay if that IS important to us.

The fact of the matter is that it doesn’t really matter what’s important to the people around you. What’s important is that you figure out what’s really important to you and your family, do those things, and let the rest go. Let what you’re doing, what matters most to you, be enough.

The Power of Enough

We can’t do it all, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay! That’s the way the world is supposed to be. We’re all supposed to have different talents and priorities and insights and values. That’s what makes the world work!

So take a look at your life. Take a look at your talents and priorities and the things that you’re doing, and let it be enough.

Stop the Comparison Game

So let’s try our best to stop the comparison game. Let’s stop comparing ourselves to others.

Those unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves? It’s time to say goodbye to them, release them, relieve that pressure.

They’re holding us back from being the amazing person we already are.

And it’s time we let that person shine for who she is, not this unrealistic person we think she needs to become.

We got this, mamas.

What are some unrealistic expectations you put on yourself? Let me know in the comments below!

A woman multitasking in a kitchen

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