Posted by: Amy Hanson | January 5, 2012


One of the key triggers for stress in our lives is the difference between our internal expectations and what is happening for us externally. There is a myriad of expectations we have that can determine how comfortable or uncomfortable our experience is. Expectations of how we present ourselves to the world (the car we drive, the house we live in, the clothes we wear), how our children behave or do at school, how well we do at work, and if we are keeping up with the “Jones” next door, are all examples of thoughts that serve to put unwarranted pressure on us. If our expectations are so high as to be unrealistic, or the difference between our expectation and what is happening in the moment is unachievable, it can create a feeling of failure or a need for constant strife to try to keep up to the expectation.
Awhile ago I became a single mom and my expectations for many things in my life had to be adjusted. I realized the standards I had held in the past could no longer be attained the way I was used to. If I tried to maintain those standards the stress I created for myself was not healthy. So I began prioritizing what needed to be done and to what level. Some projects had to be put off indefinitely because they were too big for me to handle on my own. Large projects, which seemed overwhelming, needed to be broken down into smaller chunks. After each “chunk” was accomplished I made sure I celebrated in some small way to acknowledge my progress. Some on-going projects such as yard work, housework etc. I had less time for, so I did the same things, but gave myself permission to not do them as often. Some things that were essential, I asked for help. The process made me really reflect on what was truly important to me, ease up the pressure I put on myself, and become grateful for what I currently had in my life.
As I began to manage my expectations to more closely match the reality of my situation, the less stress I began to feel. The parts of me that were critical of how I was progressing lessened and I was able to find balance in my new situation.
It’s not to say we have to go through a major life transition to get to where we are reprioritizing things. Life is ever-changing and taking time to listen to our bodies, understand our individual stress level and make adjustments as different situations flow through our lives is vital in managing our well-being. During those challenging times, there may be opportunity to reflect on life and make changes that reveal what really is important to you.
A friend of mine once said that the level of happiness of her children was in direct relationship to the messiness in her home.


  1. So true. Thanks for sharing your personal journey and thereby inspiring all of us!

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