We often count on other people or things to fulfill needs on our behalf, and even when those needs are met, we continue to raise the bar and set new expectations. I was in a yoga class recently and while I’m aware that our bodies often are not perfectly balanced on each side, this seemed like a particularly off day for me. Specifically, I was stretching out one hip flexor, and then the other. I got really frustrated when my right hip was radically tighter than my left one. I do yoga pretty (ok, semi) consistently, and my right side is supposed to be my good side. I tore my left meniscus a few years ago, and only got around to having surgery last Christmas. Needless to say, my right knee had been compensating for way too long, carrying me everywhere I needed to go while I was in denial about my injury. I counted on it for everything! And it had never let me down. So here I was, in what should have been a relaxing, non-judgmental environment, and I was basically scolding my right side for not being as flexible as my right side. I had never thanked it for all the times it did show up for me. I even remember thinking “I always count on my right side to carry through everything that I need it to – so how could you just not show up right now” (it’s pretty loud in my head sometimes!). Suddenly I had this epiphany – it was because I was expecting my right knee to carry everything for me all the time that my right hip had naturally become way tighter. My left knee never really did a lot of work, so there was less impact on the muscles, less tightness, and so on. Of course it would be more flexible! This was obvious once I thought about it holistically. I just hadn’t been taking into consideration the full picture – and I certainly had unfair expectations of my right knee. I kept raising the bar every time it delivered, or making up new rules so it was always just short of good enough. You’re super strong? OK great, but are you flexible? No? Once I pieced together what I was doing, I was able to forgive my right side and thank it for how hard it worked to carry me around for so long. I promised myself that I would balance out my strength on both sides of my body, so that it’s not such a burden for one side. Happy resolution for everyone, and all body parts.
It got me thinking though … how often do we set unfair expectations for the people we count on the most? How often do we change the rules to keep people from really being good enough in our eyes? How often do we criticize or judge others (or a part of ourselves, in my case) when they aren’t fulfilling an expectation we arbitrarily set for them? Is it possible that we don’t always have the full picture?
What I can offer in these situations is this: Consider what else might be going on for that person and for your relationship. In my case, I hadn’t considered that my hip wasn’t flexible enough because it was stressed out from being strong enough carrying my full weight all the time. In other cases, we might not realize the burden that someone else carries with them each day, and how that affects the way they show up for us. It really comes back to that saying: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.
Sometimes it’s a silly thing where your body doesn’t do what you want it to, but sometimes it’s not so silly, and you’re unfair to your spouse, your parent, your friend, your boss. Just acknowledging that it’s possible that you don’t know the full story will actually take away a lot of the burden of disappointment on your part. So here’s to freeing up more of your disappointment energy to reallocate to more productive endeavors! Like stretching out your hip flexors, or whatever you need to do to today 🙂 Until next time…
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