Does anyone else build up their expectations to a completely unrealistic level only to be let down every time?
I’ve had so many of those occasions in the last week or so and I just can’t get past it. I feel like I should be able to manage it more and not get so emotionally invested in things. But on the flip side, on that rare occasion when things meet or exceed my expectations, I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything.
I was thinking about the StrenghthsFinder test this morning. I took it years ago and go back and reread my strengths every now and then. I did that this morning. Some of them were so relevant it was eerie.
For example, my number one strength was discipline. The very first sentence in the description is, “Your world needs to be predictable.” Pretty much me in a nutshell.
“Faced with the inherent messiness of life, you want to feel in control. The routines, the timelines, the structure, all of these help create this feeling of control…Your dislike of surprises, your impatience with errors, your routines, and your detail orientation don’t need to be misinterpreted as controlling behaviors that box people in.”
This is one of those things that I just don’t connect up on a regular basis. Of course certain situations ramp up my anxiety–I’ve lost my control. That’s the basis of my anxiety. If I can’t control a situation, I don’t know how to handle it. I don’t know how to deal with it and push through. In many of those situations, I tend to just shut down.
My second strength, appropriately enough, was deliberative:
“You are careful. You are vigilant. You are a private person. You know that the world is an unpredictable place…You select your friends cautiously and keep your own counsel when the conversation turns to personal matters.”
This is the one that’s hitting home right now. The friend part is pretty spot on for today and it’s what I beat myself up over most. It’s the one part of myself I’ve been working the hardest at for the longest amount of time. I want to be able to open up and be completely vulnerable, but I’m never ready. Going back to the last strength, I always want to be in control of the situation and I never am, by my own choice, by the way.
Perhaps the most dead-on (and definitely most relevant), however, was my third strength: futuristic.
“You are the kind of person who loves to peer over the horizon. The future fascinates you. As if it were projected on the wall, you see in detail what the future might hold, and this detailed picture keeps pulling you forward into tomorrow…When the present proves too frustrating and the people around you too pragmatic, you conjure up your visions of the future and they energize you.”
I do this all the time. When life is just too much for me to handle, which is pretty much all the time, I retreat into my head and plan out future events. It could be planning out the next day or imagining all of the possibilities for the next get together with a friend or it could be planning my wedding, decorating my first house, imagining my kids, grandkids, etc. And on some more somber days, I imagine my parents dying and planning their funerals, my brother dying and having to help his family deal with that, a future without my favorite furry friend. You can pretty much ask me how I think any future event will go and I can give you a detailed description, because I’ve given it a lot of thought.
Going back to the friend scenario, I get it in my head that I just need to tweak this one thing next time and everything will just flow and work out exactly as it did in my head. I have reimagined the same scenario hundreds of times by now, only changing the location, the season, my clothes and the beverage in my hand. Those reimaginings are what keep me going, though. Those are what I imagine as I’m falling asleep every night as my anxiety is telling me that’ll never happen. Stop dreaming.
This is where I get myself in trouble, though. When those events come and go and they don’t live up to that grand expectation I’ve created, it’s disappointing, to say the least. Nothing can ever live up to the dream. That realization is gut-wrenching.
But dreamers still dream.