What do you expect from you?

In my work with healers, I preach two things above all else: Be genuine and practice what you preach. The world has too many well-meaning professionals who are largely ineffective. Those who provide the best healing are not simply those of us who have felt broken but who have also experienced a lot of healing. We continue to be what my friends in recovery refer to as a “work in progress.”

I’m a good therapist because I’ve received a lot of good therapy. I’m a good teacher because I’ve had good teachers (most of whom are not teachers by trade but by virtue of their spiritual path). I get to do things I love doing and I am grateful.

Yet no matter how much I grow and heal, I continue to catch myself at times not practicing what I preach. There’s this part of my brain that lights up whenever this happens and I’m immediately irritated with myself. That only lasts a few moments. It then becomes a responsibility to change. It’s important to me to share what I learn in the hopes that describing the pitfalls I wander into will help others avoid them. More importantly, sharing them is a form of accountability – by telling others what I need to do, I’m vastly more likely to actually do it.

I spent some time this morning encouraging one of the healers that I most respect to examine her expectations of self. She saw this as an opportunity and I realized for the umpteenth time that it’s something I need to do again and again. It’s not a destination to arrive at. With each new challenge and role I take on, my expectations need to be consciously chosen.

When I discuss expectations with others, we’re setting boundaries about what we can and cannot expect from each other. When I have the same conversation with myself, I am acknowledging my limits, my motives, and what I hope to achieve. I’ve learned that that conversation isn’t always honest. I have to bring it out into the open to ensure I’m honest and share it in order to be accountable. (My head remains a breeding ground of half-baked ideas and justifications).

There’s this part of me that’s always pushing the envelope and always wanting to do and be more. While I know that I am enough just as I am, I crave further growth and ripple effects from my contributions. My passions are many. My appetite for connecting with those who facilitate healing and those who require it is relatively insatiable.

I never want to stop learning. Those I serve remain my greatest teachers. I will be talking with folks this week and encouraging them to examine specifically what they expect and to write it down. (Paul Simon is in my head singing, “Everything looks worse in black and white.”)

Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you expect something like this: To be the best person I can be while striving to learn, grow, heal, and become. To be the best partner, parent, friend, community member, leader, employer, and worker I am capable of being. To give generously, lift up those who have fallen or been downtrodden. Support worthy causes. Be creative and expressive, genuine and honest. Don’t suffer fools. Champion the underdog. Pay the bills. Surpass their expectaations.

I expect myself to do the right thing at all times and in all places. I expect that I will do what my Higher Power directs me to do and I know that my HP has many purposes for me – not only in the grand scheme but in my everyday life.

What do I expect from others? Truthfully, far less. What would I expect of a friend or a colleague? About the same, but with the caveat of wanting them to have tremendous support and self-care.

Time to more fully practice what I preach.

 

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.