We always have expectations.
Val taught me to try to do things without expectations. My therapist, said I should start doing that. My running was getting tough because of all I’ve done to my body and I had to think of some way to call a truce. I decided to try what Val did and have no expectations. I’m running just to run because I can.
I ran a 5k a few weeks ago, and shockingly it wasn’t bad. I was prepared to walk if my body forced me to, and it really didn’t. I ran a half decent time. Not too shabby! I just had a half-marathon last weekend and I was shocked at the results! I was prepared for this to be a struggle, but it wasn’t. I actually had to slow myself down to prevent injury. I was at a fast pace for the first 2 miles, and had to slow it for 3 miles and slow it even more to find a slower pace to actually enjoy the run and not “race” it. I’ve decided this year is about running and not racing. No expectations.
As I was running the half-marathon, I was shocked at the number of times that I felt great. I really only had to walk two times (it was a hilly course) and I only ran out of gas at mile 12. I realized what my time was at mile 12 and then I gave myself expectations… that was the game changer…. I was in my head. Not only was I out of gas, but I thought I should have been running at warp speed (not possible). So, my unrealistic expectation that seemed so possible (or wanted) at the time, was the new goal. It took me a good 4-5 minutes of struggling in my head to realize what I was doing. I was yelling in my head because I couldn’t maintain a quick pace to finish the last mile hard and fast. I was berating myself for running out of gas. I was mad at myself for not being able to go faster and because I was dying in the heat – for my body having failed me. After that short amount of time, I thought, “really… what is the difference of 2-3 minutes on your time when you’ve been running for over 2 hours!!!” and it changed back to enjoy the last of this run. I spent the entire run without eating disorder thoughts forcing me to go harder, and I wasn’t about to let it happen at the end.
I think we often have expectations for everything – maybe they are realistic, or not – either way, they are there. We have expectations of how fast we will clean the house, how much time it will take us to drive somewhere, how fast we want to run, how well we want to do etc. You name it… we expect it. It can be a good thing, but sometimes it can be a bad thing. I think we sometimes hold expectations on EVERYTHING! We don’t ever create that little gray area that is left to surprise us! If we have expectations for everything, we have a hard time being very happy with the results that we get because we knew what they would be. It’s almost like the spontaneity is gone. I’m not saying we should live in the world like a drifter, but we don’t have to have expectations on everything.
I went to a cookout with my husband and the “old Rachel” was back for a little. The old Rachel that loves to laugh, might be a little funny and likes to trash talk at cook out games came back for a little. Instead of sitting in the corner staring at my dinner, I played a game and went out of my shell and it was great. I had no expectations of how I should act or what I should do, and oddly enough, everyone was so excited for me to be there and loved who I was. I went to the cookout with no expectations. I brought my pre-race dinner because the marathon was the next day (you never want to eat foreign foods before a huge race like that), and I planned to just go with the flow. Was I nervous?
No. YES. But I did it. In the moment of playing a random hold-a-drink-in-one-hand-throw-a-frizbee-to-hit-the-stick-to-knock-the-bottle-off-and-catch-the-frizbee-and-bottle game (don’t ask) I realized that I wanted spontaneity more than I wanted Ed. I want no expectations and to live in the moment more than I want the rigid planning of the eating disorder and the rules to follow that I’ve been following for so long.
Eating disorders come with rules – and lots of them. Where to go, when to go, how to eat, how much to eat, how to act, what to say, what not to do, how to do it…. they are endless…. and exhausting to follow; one mistake leaves you berating yourself for the longest time and left with a long list of punishment usually involving no food and over exercise. After realizing that I have the choice, I choose to throw away expectations and in the attempt to find balance. Finding balance is hard, but not impossible. So, right now, my expectation is to try to do something that makes me happy every day and to find some beauty in every day. 🙂 The more I stop expecting so much of myself, the more I will stop criticizing my flaws and I’ll see my strengths. If we can appreciate our strengths and accept our flaws we can be so much happier in the long run. This is hard – but not impossible.
We all deserve to live in the moment, and without expectations. Try it.