Bowl of Water: How to Deal with Rising Expectations

Imagine an empty bowl.

Before anything is put inside this bowl it feels expansive as we imagine how we will fill this space.

Now let’s pretend that we are holding a jug of water, this jug represents what’s yet to come and the water represents expectations.  Independently our jug of water will perfectly fill our bowl, it may even spill over depending on how big we are dreaming.  Throughout the day, week or however long, we progressively put in more and more water but there’s a catch.  As we put in water from our jug, we are also sharing this bowl with those that are around us.  Our boss, parents, family or friends.  Everyone has a jug and everyone is putting in water at some point which at times feels a bit overwhelming because it’s my bowl.  How do I fix this?  Do I stop putting my water into the bowl?  Do I not allow others to put there water in?  Confusion usually sets in, frustration begins to rear it’s ugly head and all hell seems to break loose.  OH NO!

Now, let’s take a break from the analogy.  The bowl is a representation of how much “life” I can take.  Everyone has a different level before they overflow, before they can’t take anymore and tend to become the person they don’t want to be.  I will not be explaining a solution, more of a compromise.

It is far and few between that we will find ourselves shouldering the expectations of many at the same time, but if we are then the process is still the same.  The idea is to lower the amount of water we are putting into the bowl to fit the criteria of the circumstance of situation.  To avoid adding more water when it’s painfully obvious that the inevitability of overflow will soon be a reality.  What do I mean?  Plan for what you know.  If, for example, I am in a certain situation where I know that certain things will (most likely) happen, then I will adjust how much water into the bowl knowing that if I don’t…I will overflow.  Taking into account all of the facets within specific situations or people, I find myself acting as opposed to reacting.  Taking control of what I have control over in order to leave space for what I can’t.

Recently, I was visiting my grandparents in New Orleans and employed this strategy.  My grandmother is a bit of a control freak, not out of spite but because she wants to be sure that everyone enjoys themselves.  Knowing this, I knew that she would plan out as much of my trip as possible.  I did not need to lower my expectation of the trip, only that of myself.  By doing so, I allowed for flexibility and thus created more room in my “bowl”.  By taking into account that she was going to bring her own jug of water for my bowl, I didn’t add as much water knowing that the end goal was to enjoy my trip.  I could have stressed, fret and gotten upset because I didn’t get to achieve certain things but because I was able to account for the inevitable I was able to prevent overflow.

This is much more difficult with sporadic people but the idea here is to pay attention to the smaller things.  I have said in many of my writings that it is and always will be the smaller things that make the bigger picture, it is the small events that fill up the pages of a novel.  Within this brand of thinking comes the way of Life Portion Control.  Within this comes the separation of the inevitable and with that we find less weight on our shoulders.  We do not need to be careless nor care less, we simply need to be careful not to let the little things get by us.

Our lives require balance, how much you allow for imbalance will determine if your “bowl” overflows or not.


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