Part 2: Am I Enough? How to Identify and Respond to Expectations

Part 1 of this two-part post discussed self awareness and its foundational role in
understanding emotions and beliefs about ourselves. Next, we build on this awareness by
moving into a reflection on what we must accept, what we value most, and what we can change
in both ourselves and our circumstances. The acceptance included in this list is an active one.
It’s part of our forward movement and ultimately leads to our growth and self determination. Now
that we’ve listed the steps, let’s dig in a little deeper.
We often jump to action before we consider what we’re feeling, believing, and valuing.
We find comfort in knowing we’re “doing something.” But sometimes slowing down and being
present with ourselves and our situation necessarily precedes action; especially when our action
impacts our mental health and the wellbeing of those around us. The truest form of acceptance
leads to action, because an active acceptance takes an inventory of what we can and cannot
change. It’s the power we possess to enact real change in ourselves and our situations. Many
times, by skipping the step of taking an acceptance inventory, we end up pouring our energy
into trying to change what’s outside of our power to control.
Have you ever worked to change something you had no control over? Imagine spending
a whole day trying to push a giant boulder. You’d feel exhausted afterwards with nothing to show
for your efforts. When we jump right to action without knowing how we’re feeling and what we
can and cannot change, we can exert great amounts of emotional energy only to see that the
metaphorical boulder hasn’t moved. Active acceptance looks like channeling our energy into
plans we have power to enact.
Once we’ve identified what we can change, we can begin to understand what we want to
change. If we can actually make effective changes to our lives, then we need to know where
we’re headed. This is when identifying our values becomes essential. The direction of our
actions is determined by our values, and a value is only a value when it’s attached to an action.
We can identify our values by reflecting on where and with whom we invest our time and energy.
What matters most to us? Our values become our roadmap for change. In the therapy world, we
call this value-based action (Hayes et al., 2012). We’re not trying to move a brick wall anymore.
Rather, we’re propelling ourselves forward through purposeful action with our values as our
motivation and direction for change.
When we can identify what we’re feeling, believing, accepting, and valuing, the
unreasonable expectations that leave us feeling like we’re not enough to become less weighty or
relevant to our self-worth. The expectations we place on ourselves now have a foundation built
on self-understanding, active acceptance, and values-based action. We’re engaging with life
and living it freely.

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