I’m sitting at the most beautiful beach watching the sun shining its last golden rays of the day. It is the most picturesque scene you can imagine; blue water, light sand, surrounded by tall rocks.
I am here with my boyfriend, traveling around in our campervan. Everything seems to be perfect.
But it isn’t.
There is a deep sadness within myself that is calling for my presence. I have ignored it many times before, but this year I made a vow to be as self-loving as possible. I promised to treat myself with the kindness I have deserved all along.
So I am trying my best to give my sadness the attention it needs, to be my own best friend. But then something else comes in the way: A demon disguised as expectations.
There is a voice in my head that tells me how I should be feeling, how I should be acting, that I should get it back together – because we had other plans than being sad in one of the natures most magical places. I have got my to-do-list that does not get emptier and with every day that passes I feel terrible for not being able to stick to my plan.
The voice is mean and makes me feel miserable. It drains the last bit of energy I have and makes me forget all the successes I have had in the past. I end up feeling like a looser because I cannot keep up with the image I had for myself.
And then I am scared.
As a child I was raised with punishment and praise. Punished for mistakes and praised when I was successful in the eyes of my parents, when I behaved well and met their expectations.
And there was more: I was pushed to be the best. Not my personal best, but the best. My fathers’ idea of success meant being a winner, better than the others. He saw the reflection of himself in me. Since winning was highly important for his self-confidence, he wanted to pass on his “wisdom” to me. He saw my potential, my intelligence and talent. Seeing me shine in the spotlight made him more proud than anything – falling into the trap of our competition driven society.
Oh and you know what? It worked. It made me a very successful human being. I became a great dancer, was always good in school and always seemed to be handling everything with ease. As an adults, I have won awards for my photography, my name has appeared in rather important newspapers and I have received a lot of praise.
But it has never been enough. There are never enough prizes to be won. The moment the praise is over, I am hungrily searching for somebody else to validate my self-worth.
All my little child ever wanted is to be loved. And she has felt love mainly in moments when she was better than others. Those moments continue to live vividly in her memory, because these were the only times when her mostly absent father would look at her with pride.
In her mind, she assumed: winning + living up to the expectations of others = love. Loosing = pain in form of punishment (either active, which meant to be grounded or not allowed to do something pleasant. Or passive, which simply meant to be ignored).
As a result, I today believe that in order to be loved I need to be the best. The little girl inside of me stayed loyal to her father and thus I continue to have very high expectations towards myself.
I need to be successful as an artist, photographer, manager, tarot reader and publisher as well as a spiritual guide. While I concentrate on many different things that bring me pleasure, I believe that I need to be one of the bests in each field.
I want to be the best and favorite friend for everyone that I cherish. I want to be a reliable help for everyone who is in need.
When I am in a romantic relationship, I want my partner to feel that this is the best relationship they have ever had.
And while I am desperately trying to be the best in every possible area, I forget to be myself. Not always. Fortunately I have experienced many moments in my life where I got into the flow, did not expect anything, felt happy and was even more successful than ever. Because I wasn’t trying so hard and trusted the abundance of the universe. But every few months, I find myself stuck in these old ideas that do not help me anymore.
The demon of expectations is that voice that keeps on pushing me, because it does not want little Alice to loose the love of her parents.
I have created that demon myself. It was meant to help me gain love. But today it keeps me from being loving and kind towards myself.
A vicious circle.
The fear of being less good than others is keeping me stuck in a destructive pattern of emotional neglect and demands. You can’t believe how much pressure I put on myself and people close to me. I need things to be PERFECT. I want people to act according to my expectations and try my very best to be no less than what I believe the other person expects of me.
I do all of that because I want love, expecting the rest of the world to act like my parents.
But there are people in my life that don’t care if I am the best. I have met many that want to love me the way I am. But even though I really want to believe them, my unconsciousness did not yet want to let go of its programming. Deep down, I have doubted the authenticity of their love.
My inner child has a hard time admitting that daddy was wrong. She prefers to continue to believe that love equals fulfilling the expectations of others and being the best. Because what scares her even more than being a looser is to face the disappointment that daddy did not love her enough to be present with her when she was not winning. And so the voice keeps on making noise and creates pressure to save her from pain.
If the music is loud enough I do not need to hear the world crumbling.
And so the cycle goes on until I am brave enough to break the pattern. The first step: to speak about it and deconstruct my programming. That is what I have just done with you as my witness. The next step: To dive into the pain the truth reveals. Because the most loving act I can possibly do for my inner child is to show unconditional presence for every emotion that wants to come up.
And underneath layers of disappointment, confusion and hurt lays the childish joy for life and the ease to simply be my personal best.