Expectation fatigue – Trying too hard?

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    Good evening everyone.

    The last 2.5 years, I’ve been inside a tornado. I fell in love twice and broke up twice, had a hard time letting go, had a super hard time being comfortable with being single, was diagnozed with ODC, been on therapy (CBT) for more than 1 year, managed to move on, control my obsessions and compulsions, changed jobs and now I’m feeling like when you jump off a bus but stay in the bus station waiting for the next bus to arrive to continue your journey? Does that make sense?

    Since the last summer, I had a dramatic swift in my mood and personality for the absolute better. Not only did I heal, seems like completely, my past wounds, but I’m in a very happy place, I’m feeling good about being single, I love my new job and I don’t make choices according to what to OCD dictates. Since November of 2020, we’ve been on a new lockdown here in Greece, but before that I was hitting the gym and group fitness classes everyday, making new connections with people, practing pole dance, going out, taking russian up lessons and my life was perfect. Since the new lockdown though, I feel weighted down. I miss my pre lockdown life. But nothing extreme, it is what seems like to be everyone’s mood these days – year.

    In a few days I’m turning 27.  Suddently all my expectations, my families expectations and peer pressure have me questioning where I’m standing again. Or better said: I am questioning why I don’t have any friends at this age, why I have no boyfriend, why I don’t have a master’s degree and EVEN why I don’t have any likes on Facebook. Things that for a long time haven’t crossed my mind, now have me on edge for the better part of the day. After all those thoughts have me bit my nails in fear, I then feel so fatigued that I dont’ care anymore and kinda just surrender to numbness.

    I sometimes feel so left behind in life and like I’ve let my younger self down. None of my expectations came true. In my eyes – I’m not saying I feel like a complete failure or anything -I just don’t know if this is MY life. The worst part is when I realize I have no friends and I really do try hard to accomplish all those things I want!

    Is it possible that I’m trying TOO hard on everything people related? Romances, friendships e.t.c.? Has this ever happened to you?

    Thank you so much 😀


    Hi Sofioula
    My first thoughts when I read the beginning of your post was that wow this person was engaging with life. Sure not everything has gone the way may have wished but you went for it and more importantly took steps to learn for the experiences and work on yourself.

    Then I read the word that so many of us trip over. “Expectations”.  Have you heard the line “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

    Nothing wrong with having Expectations, dreams, goals, desires we just have to keep our eyes open as we engage with them. Note that expectations, dreams, desires and goals are all very different engagements but that we often group them together as if they were the same thing. There is a big difference between having a dream which we enjoy thinking about, even fantasizing about, and turning that into a goal to peruse.  If we then have a expectations that our dreams will come true without having turned the idea of the dream into a goal…. the expectation becomes resentment, disappointment, maybe even depression.

    How do we engage with our ‘expectations’?  Like boundaries there are healthy ones and unhealthy ones.

    I found it helpful to be specific about my expectations by writing them down.

    Is the expectation related to something I am actively working towards or wishing to magically happen?  If its the latter can I let the expectation go or do I want to keep my eyes open for ways to turn a dream into a direction?

    Is the expectation an attempt by my ego to control the outcome, Force the experience I’m engaged into to trying to make it look and be a certain way? Is it possible our expectations are holding us back?  That by trying to force a experience to look a certain way we miss the opportunity of experience something that would be transcend the expectation.

    How do we engage in Life as it shows up with intention and direction while being open to change?

    That is one of the questions the wisdom traditions and the hero struggle with.  How can I enter the whirlwind that is Life and be calm? Even enjoy the ride? In the Zen tradition their is the cultivation of the practice of doing by no doing. To have a goal and work towards it without being attached to our expectations of how it turns out. I know easier said then done. Thus we have the practices of mindfulness, meditation, detachment (that isn’t indifference).  Ying and Yang, Action and Being, Thinking and feeling. In the stories the marriage at the end of the journey represents the union of what appears to the ego as opposites. Flowing with Life as we influence what we can. I think of getting tossed out of the boat on a white water trip I was on.  You don’t fight the rapids and currents but work with them to direct yourself to safety. Or sky diving where you work with the air resistance by spreading out your limbs to stop you from tumbling. Your still falling but can avoid tumbling franticly through the air and maybe even enjoy the moment.  When I look at my expectations and disappointments I often imagine my self as that sky diver. Am I tumbling frantically? If so can I ‘spread’ out a little and work with the ‘resistance’?

    I really believe that Joseph Campbell was on to something when he said  “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”  The key words are I think – ‘willing to let go’ – this isn’t a giving up or indifference to the moment but the practice of detachment and at the same time the full engagement with the moment.  The creation of healthy boundaries as it concerns our expectations and desires with the moment.

    “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” ― <span class=”authorOrTitle”>Joseph Campbel</span>

    At the start of your post, though many of the experiences were difficult and unwanted, you came across as being very much alive. Your still here! I hope you dive in again.

    I know the above is more of philosophical approach and that not everyone will find it helpful. We each have our own ways. If you google ‘The Psychology of Expectations’ you might find other approaches.



    Dear Sofioula,

    I sometimes feel so left behind in life and like I’ve let my younger self down.

    What did your younger self want? What kind of expectations (or dreams) did she have?

    None of my expectations came true.

    Do you think those are your own expectations, or the expectations of your family and peers that you’re feeling pressured by?

    I just don’t know if this is MY life.

    I understand you. If you don’t live according to your own goals and desires, it doesn’t feel like living your own life…


    Dear Sofioula:

    Welcome back! I intend this post to be one of a series of posts in which I will review some of what you shared in your previous threads, and eventually offer you my understanding.

    You first posted in January 2019. You were 24 at the time. You shared that you broke up with your first ever boyfriend the December before, after you told him that you want a future with him (“in 2 or 3 years I would be considering to start a family and get married”), and he refused (“he flat out denied any future with me”).

    At the time, you wanted a family and marriage with him after he displayed the following behaviors: “All through our relationship he would only meet me twice a week, on specific hours.. Sunday mornings he would put an alarm for no reason other than me leaving his place early. He would never take me home with his car, even though he knew I had to take 3 buses and walk a great deal.. He never gave me a flower, even though he knew I loved them… when I was very ill and at his place, he told me a flat out lie to avoid bringing me home with the car”.

    After breaking up with him, you called him “to give him one last chance”, and his response: “he yelled and screamed at me and hung up the phone”.

    Six months later, in June-July 2019, you elaborated on the night you were sick and he did not offer to take you home, even though he had a working car: “I took three buses whilst feverish and next half hour I texted him that I loved him so much and I was so lucky to have him.. in fact, I DID believe I was lucky and never had it ever cross my mind that he was a douchebag.. I thought his behavior was normal and loving even… consciously I didn’t perceive any mistreatment happening. I couldn’t make that connection, my brain was not sensing it at all.. To this day I don’t get offended by his mistreatment… A ‘normal’ person would have been furious! And ..ALL.. the people that hear my story do get enraged!!!! So how come I don’t?”

    You added this about your sex life with him: “I enjoy and adore being submissive and/ or mistreated.. it boils down to liking the man to get off his sexual tension on me with rage.. being angry, violent (not to the point of harming me though) is what I find sexy. My role is to accept all of it and obey to his needs. Kind of like a rug doll. It sounds really bad I know, but it’s so appealing for me.. I really enjoy being restrained”.

    About your childhood experience, you wrote in the summer of 2019 (“their” and “they” refer to your parents): “my sister was and is their main preoccupation. She is explosive, a bit narcissistic  and my parents had a hard time, so little me thought oh, let’s be the exact opposite, the obedient one, the selfless, in order to be a priority… My family situation has always  been this: my sister first, my sister most. She was the center of my parents’ attention, she still is to this day because she is a difficult person, FULL of anger and explosive behaviors.. I received less attention because they think I’m strong and capable.. They call me the survivor, the fighter, the logical one and the sweetness in their lives.. They always say, ‘other parents don’t have those situations.. because their children are normal”.

    *Next post will probably be in about 16 hours from now.




    Dear Sofioula:

    In this second of only two post, I will repeat parts of what you shared. My understanding of what you shared will follow an *. I will be using the following words regarding emotions: to repress, meaning to automatically, unintentionally remove one’s emotions from one’s awareness, to suppress, meaning to intentionally remove one’s emotions from one’s awareness, as in: I will think/ deal with this later, to mute, and to push down, meaning to repress or suppress.

    In April 2019 you wrote: “I ALWAYS, literally, even to my own detriment want to be polite”. Two months later, you wrote: “My anger issues.. I don’t have any.. I got trained to think anger- bad, obedience- good.. Even when a stranger pushed me on the street for example, I wouldn’t say anything, not wanting to be rude”.

    You shared that your ex-boyfriend having had a car, and knowing that you were sick and feverish, did not want to give you a ride from his place to your home. Instead, he let you leave his place feverish, on foot, take three buses and walk a long way to get to your home. Your response to him after taking three buses was gratitude: “I texted him that I loved him so much and was so lucky to have him”.

    * The reasons you expressed gratitude to your rude and cruel boyfriend at the time were: (1) You were in the habit of being “ALWAYS.. polite”, (2) You were not able at the time to evaluate the situation. When you posted in your thread about the incident way after it happened, removed from it in time and place, you were relatively calm and objective, and therefore, you were able to evaluate the situation and him as “a douchebag”.

    (*) But at the time, when you were with him, your emotions, usually repressed or suppressed, quickly rose to the surface,  overwhelming you, and as a result, you pushed them down again, feeling numb, zoned out, not paying attention to and not aware of what was happening.

    (*) Your high intelligence is evident when you post in your threads, but in the context of an ongoing emotional interpersonal situation,  your otherwise fine intelligence is no longer available to you. To act intelligently in an emotional interpersonal situation, a person needs adequate access to one’s emotions, so to be guided by those emotions (and by logic). Without access to your emotions, you had no guidance and you were therefore lost. Lost, you mindlessly, and inappropriately, resorted to your habit: being polite to a person who was just cruel to you.

    You wrote in the summer of 2019 (using “zoning off” in place of zoning out): “Sometimes I’m zoning off, completely cut off my surroundings. I can hear nor see anything but just 2 people arguing in my head.. While this is happening I’m in complete memory gap. I don’t know what and if I do or say anything during this time. Nor do I recall afterwards. Strange…  Basically I escape.. I’m just on mute”.

    In the same summer of 2019, you had an unusual experience, you felt and expressed anger: “Last week, I released some anger to a car driver that nearly got me injured  (I told him to go and f@ck himself) AND IT FELT SOOOOOOOOO GOOD! I’m still thinking about it and smile. Best moments of my life”.

    Still summer of 2019, you wrote: “Finally after so many years I can understand now. Why and how. The unexpressed anger, the sister competition, the parental dismissal, the strange sexual attitude, the broken relationships and the detachment from self…

    “I don’t discriminate against my emotions any more.. Experience everything – that’s living and I’m so deeply grateful for this chance to have been incarnated.. I’m eternally grateful for this forum as well and for your help especially. No joke, everybody asks me, why my face looks different, they seem to get excited and confused to find what I changed in my appearance. And I laugh and smile! At last, organically and intentionally..

    “I made no changes, I just found my skin and wore it for the first time! It’s so amazing how an internal process can reflect on the outside…I’ve been ..Sober from all my self judgment, sober from oppressing my feelings, sober from perfectionism. I truly say to you, I feel I was born recently. It literally feels I’m alive, that I just landed on this place and body. Now I realize how truly detached I was from my being”!

    * Summer of 2019 (the above 4 paragraphs) was your summer of Emotional Awakening, un-muting yourself. But the awakening was cut short, and the habitual emotional repression and suppression  resumed. One day during the holiday season, in December 2019, you felt very lonely, and your pushed down emotions shot up to the surface: “I’m really bad right now. I think I’m going to kill myself. I can’t get him off my mind… I miss him. I’m a failure. I tried to hard. I tried, I can’t. Please help me”.

    Some time later: “I have calmed down significantly. My sister helped me through it. I was close to cutting my wrists. It was a very close call. I don’t know what got me! It was psychotic almost…All day, nobody remembered me, to send holiday greetings and such. I felt so alone. And then IT HIT ME soooo strong”.

    A month later, January 2020, you shared what you called a massive update, you met a new guy: “On new year’s eve, I left all the past behind. That door closed… So.. I was emotionally stable… instantly felt hard for him”. Like the first boyfriend, he treated you well at first, he opened doors for you, carrying your bag, paying for everything.

    You wrote: “He nicknamed me puppy because he said I was such a yes-girl… (I) agreed to all his terms, when and where we would go”.

    On the second week of knowing him, you asked him if the two of you were dating exclusively, he said yes, but  “was soooo cold.. I could literally smell his emotional distance”. Soon enough, the two of you “had drinks and then at the back of his car we had a steamy encounter”. Next evening, the two of you “had sex, it was amazing”, he then ordered Chinese and you watched a movie. The next morning he “was annoyed” and later “really cold and distant”. You asked him if things were O.K., “Like a scared puppy, really politely.. said sorry for inconveniencing (him)”. He then threatened to end the very short relationship, and a short while later, he did just that, telling you that he didn’t have any feelings for you. You asked for a final meetup, he refused and then, “he vanished”.

    You wrote Jan 2020: “I doubt my ability to judge matters correctly as if I have no knowledge, no experience, no common sense, just a newborn. I always want to double check and confirm with other people if I am thinking and acting rationally”-

    * Within an ongoing emotional interpersonal situation, your emotions are too intense for you to endure, so, your brain automatically pushes them down, and without access to them, you are lost, mind-less, unaware.

    Three months later, in April 2020, you were attended psychotherapy: “My therapy is going very well! I’ve seen huge improvement. My therapist is very attentive and hands on with CBT. My OCD has ‘relaxed’ up to 80%”.

    Four months later, in Aug 2020, you shared that you were diagnosed with OCD the February before, that you have been attended CBT therapy once a week ever since, and that you were optimistic: “I’m happy to update on feeling better overall. I’m past my ex FINALLY and I have deeply and honestly happy to be single.. I’m actually more optimistic and more peaceful than ever. I learned to silence a lot of voices inside and outside my head”.

    You added that during the time since February, you “attempted self harm twice. Those came after I couldn’t control my anger due to not trusting ANYONE. Not even what my own mind was telling me… My mind became blurry from anger that it controlled me… I was so enraged my mind was blurry, I felt nothing. Like someone hijacked my brain”-

    * The habitual emotional repression and suppression was interrupted by a rush of intense emotions erupting to the surface, overwhelming you. The eruption followed your distress about not trusting your mother, your father and your own mind.

    Regarding the two incidents of self harm, you wrote: “The first time was when my sister wouldn’t believe that I was struggling emotionally…  The second time my family was telling me that I’m objectively beautiful, that I am loveable but I wouldn’t take it  for a second. I believed they lied to make me feel good. I called them liars and other horrible things…They cannot see how I could have any reason to be troubled. Do they perceive me as perfect or something? I’m not.. (those) feel-good words feel like brushing off the actual matter“-

    * The first incident of self harm followed your sister “brushing off the actual matter”, the actual matter being.. you (your problems, your emotions, your perceptions). The second incident followed your parents brushing you off.

    (*) Your parents were engaged with your sister’s rage. In their experience, your sister gave them a lot of trouble. When you came along, they needed you to give them absolutely no trouble: “I was not allowed to be in a bad mood, make mistakes, be angry, have problems.. I have to be the sun girl”. Your parents needed you to be always like the sun, always light, no darkness. You therefore repressed and suppressed, best you could, your anger, frustration, fear, disappointments- all the emotions that felt like a problem, as well as any of your perceptions and thoughts that your parents could consider a problem.

    (*) But what is repressed/ suppressed does not disappear: a bit of it seeps/ leaks to the surface every single day, compromising the brain’s function: the ability to pay attention, to be aware of what is happening, to evaluate people and situations and to make appropriate, sensible choices. Other than the regular bit by bit leakage of repressed/ suppressed emotions to the surface, once in a while, a lot of what is pushed down erupts to the surface in great amounts, hijacking the mind in more severe, alarming ways.

    (*) When you did express something your parents considered a problem, sometimes they dismissed you with compliments, such as (1) saying that you are beautiful, and therefore you shouldn’t have any problems, or (2) calling you “the survivor, the fighter, the logical one and the sweetness of their lives”, and in so stating, suggesting that you don’t need their help to survive or to make sense of life, and that you should forever remain the sweetness of their lives, giving them no taste of bitterness- no problems, no drama.

    (*) You wrote regarding their compliments: “My disbelief in their statements stems off of the fact that..  I need constructive feedback, either positive or negative.. I don’t need compliments.. When I just hear good words, I get the feeling that my parents want to get on with other things, they don’t want ‘the drama’. Having problems is drama for them. And I can see the boredom in their eyes for having to discuss certain things”.

    (*) Perhaps one of your childhood biggest dreams, to be an opera singer (“My second, biggest dream and the one that gives me pain to the gut for not achieving, was to become an opera singer. I was successful at passing the audition for the conservatory and got in”, summer 2019) was about you being un-muted, being heard clearly and loudly by lots of people.

    Feb 2020, you shared that your father was often angry, that he shouted at you for making the smallest mistakes such as dropping food of the floor, that he over-reacted to the mistakes he believed you were making by saying to you things like: “You are driving me insane when you do that! Why do you want to destroy your mom and I?”

    When your mother believed your father would be coming home from work angry, she instructed you to “pretend/ act like nothing happened/ like you know nothing/ Tell him this or that (with extreme detail).. Please do it for me, say nothing it shall pass, I don’t want any fights in the house”-

    * Your father used his anger to mute you. Your mother used her fear of your father’s anger to mute you. You wrote that you love your mother “more than anyone”, and: “I am extremely loyal to my mom, even if at times I have to mute my inner voice, perception, emotions etc.”-

    (*) Your mother muted your “inner voice, perception, emotions”, you wrote. You obeyed her and continued to mute your own voice, your perceptions and emotions because you  loved her more than anyone, and because you were extremely loyal to her.

    You wrote about your mother: “She is so special to me, we had to fight together to stay alive at my birth, because she had complications that could kill us both. Maybe that was imprinted in my subconscious… My mom was emotionally neglected to the extreme and had no real friends, no one to lean on, to fight for her. So, I think I am the replacement of her mother emotionally”-

    * When you were born, you did not “fight together to stay alive”- that’s something she told you or suggested to you when you were old enough to understand her words. When you were born you fought to stay alive and she fought to stay alive.. separately.

    (*) Later on, feeling so much empathy for her, you tried to be her mother, to take care of her. Muting yourself was part of you taking care of her.

    You wrote in the summer of 2019: “I want to confess something, I don’t have friends. As in real friends.  Friendly acquaintances that’s all I have… I have a friendly attitude that’s attractive. So how come I screw up at follow ups with people? That’s the mystery!”. April 2021: ” I am questioning why I don’t have any friends at this age, why I have no boyfriend… The worst part is when I realize I have no friends”-

    * Repressed, suppressed and muted, your actions and reactions within the context of interpersonal interactions are often enough inappropriate and senseless, and that turns people off to you. For example, (1) reacting to cruelty politely, (2) begging people to meet with you, (3) saying Yes to everything, etc.

    (*) To have healthy friendships and relationships, you need to take on, and adhere to the very long, skillful process of un-muting yourself. You wrote: “I always stand up for the oppressed and those being mistreated with fierce passion”- un-muting yourself skillfully, patiently, over time, with some professional, quality help, will be you standing up for the muted oppressed/mistreated you with fierce passion.

    *One more thing, I think that the reason you were sexually attracted to your first boyfriend’s expressed anger/ rage during sex was because your sister’s rage was powerful in a very attractive way: it was rewarded by your parents, resulting in their Attention, attention that you did not receive. Therefore, you perceives anger as something attractive/ rewarding. You wanted the attention she got, you wanted to express your anger like she did.. but your anger was muted, not allowed. Witnessing anger sexually, expressed at your body, was extremely .. well, rewarding.


    • This reply was modified 3 days, 21 hours ago by anita.
    • This reply was modified 3 days, 21 hours ago by anita.

    Dear Sofioula,

    what you said about the conditions of your birth could be potentially important:

    “we had to fight together to stay alive at my birth, because she had complications that could kill us both. Maybe that was imprinted in my subconscious”

    It’s possible, because there is such a thing as body or implicit memory, where we don’t remember the situation since we were too little to remember, but our body and our nervous system does. That, coupled with the fact that your mother later told you about the event, might have formed an image in your mind, that you’re somehow responsible for your mother’s life, for her survival.

    You later agreed to adopt her submissive style, as she was pleading with you not to upset your father with any problems – so not to make him angry. If your mother pleads with you to stay silent, and you have an unconscious belief that your rebelling might not only upset her, but endanger her life – then of course, you’d want to stay silent. In other words, if you believe that you raising your voice might literally kill her – it’s a very strong incentive for you to stay silent and accept all the injustice and mistreatment and wrongdoings against yourself. Because your mother’s life is more important.

    If this is the case, you’d need to accept that your speaking up and protecting yourself from abuse will not endanger your mother. You setting healthy boundaries isn’t dangerous for her whatsoever, but it’s vital for you to have a healthy life.


    • This reply was modified 3 days, 5 hours ago by TeaK.
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