Embracing Realistic Expectations
By Shelley Galasso Bonanno, MA, LLP
There is a prevalent notion, albeit an unrealistic myth, that somehow we must strive to be everything for everyone. We are bombarded with messages that glorify multitasking and perfectionism, suggesting we should somehow excel in all areas of life simultaneously. However, attempting to do it all is not only impossible, it can feel overwhelming and be detrimental to our emotional well-being.
In our quest to meet everyone’s expectations, we often find ourselves juggling multiple roles and responsibilities. We strive to be the perfect employee, partner, parent, friend, and community member, spreading ourselves thin in the process. The pressure to excel in all areas of life can leave us feeling mentally and physically exhausted. The fear of disappointing others or being judged for our perceived shortcomings drives us to overextend ourselves and can lead us to feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.
While it may seem noble to be everything for everyone, it can have serious negative consequences for our emotional well-being. Constantly stretching ourselves too thin can lead to increased stress levels and diminished overall productivity. This can affect not only our mental health but our physical health as well. As we try to keep up with numerous commitments, our attention decreases, we may struggle to give our best effort, and our ability to be fully present wanes. The quality of our relationships and our own self-care often suffer as a result.
As difﬁcult as it can be, it is valuable to learn to set boundaries and say no when necessary. Establishing clear boundaries around our time and energy is crucial for maintaining balance and preventing burnout. Communicating our limitations openly and honestly and knowing that it is okay to not be everything to everyone is essential for our relationships to ﬂourish.
Instead of striving for the impossible, it is essential to set realistic expectations for ourselves. Recognizing that it is impossible to be everything for everyone, and knowing that is perfectly acceptable, is okay. Understanding that ﬁnding balance is the key to most things in life, including healthy relationships, can help us make good choices. Learn to practice self-care and be sure you are meeting your own needs, not just those of others. Prioritizing self-care enables us to show up as our best self in all aspects of our life. By embracing realistic expectations, prioritizing self-care, setting boundaries, and seeking support when needed, we can ﬁ nd a healthier balance in our life. Remember, it is not about doing it all, but about focusing on what truly matters and taking care of ourselves in the process. By being intentional in our choices and maintaining healthy boundaries with others, we can ultimately learn to be more present and supportive of the people who matter to us most.
A lifelong resident of Macomb County, Shelley Galasso Bonanno is a practicing limited licensed psychologist who earned her master’s degree from Wayne State University in 1987. She has a breadth of experience in working with adults, children, families, and couples. In addition to working in private practice, Ms. Bonanno performs consultative services for State and forensic agencies. She performs custody and parenting time evaluations and is a court approved mediator. Her writings have appeared in various online and print publications. An advocate for mental health, you can follow Ms. Bonanno on Twitter @shelleybonanno.