Setting expectations

shutterstock_240715315Recently had a meeting with a person about an email I sent to him a few days earlier. To give some context, the mail was a reaction on a specific situation and contained a couple of strong statements about the way expectations were set and work that was not executed as agreed.

I understood that the receiver of the mail had taken the points personally and he had called for this meeting as he wanted to discuss the statements and the tone used in the mail. During the meeting, where also a third person was present as an observer as requested by the receiver, I started to explain the context of my critical comments and the point in time that had triggered me to give these comments. The whole message could be boiled down to setting expectations and lack of updates to reset/adjust the expectations.

While explaining the context of my mail and the reason I reacted in that specific way I felt the same anger and frustration I felt when writing the mail. This came specifically when I pointed out the exact sequence of events that I identified as unacceptable. I was aware of my emotional reactions and was able to explain why I reacted in that specific way as there has been a long build up of events that eventually led to a climax. The fact I found that only after my call done at a for me random moment led to immediate (but still late) action by the receiver was for me the proof of the other having failed in their task.

What I can see now is that I reacted in an impulse and as a consequence I had to justify my reaction as I had personally attacked the other claiming he had not done his work properly. What if I had taken a breath while having the reaction and instead of reacting in the context of “I’ve got you this time and I am going to let you feel you are incompetent” I could have reacted stating the facts and asking how such a situation could have happened and how it can be prevented in the future. I am sure the result would have been more constructive as now the other party is cautious when communicating with me and this might lead to not getting all the relevant information as they might fear my reaction a second time.

Looking back at the meeting I can see that the message I wanted to get across was different than the message I wrote down in my mail. The mail pointed out my frustration and was pointing to the incompetent actions. The real message was that I wanted to have a different way of communication with triggers that would lead to better understanding the situation and allow me to relay the information to others effectively. I can see my emotional reaction was leading in the opposite direction where the other party might decide to give less information instead of more. During the meeting I had to work hard to restore the relation and to point out what the actual goal of the message really was.

From this experience I’ve learned that when I react to something, especially in situations where there has been a long and constant buildup of frustration, to first take a breath and slow myself down. Then assess the reaction, point out the trigger point, understand why I reacted and eventually look at how to prevent a buildup of frustration in similar situations in the future. Although it is the other party that was not performing as agreed, it is not to me to blame them but to give feedback while pointing out the terms of our mutual agreements, leaving the other enough space to take their responsibilities.


Patience and physical labour


Some time ago I watched a documentary about a man living in the middle of nowhere, patiently building himself a log cabin to shelter him during the harsh winters. All the wood he used he cut with a hand saw, even the innumerable planks he needed for the floor and the roof. I was struck by how much patience the man had in going through this endless sawing without apparently showing any resistance or looking for other ways to do it more quickly.

Very recently I experienced what it means to allow yourself to be patient in the physical reality. I had to round off the ends of a wooden pole to be sued as a handrail for the stair to our attic. When I bought the pole I did not immediately work out how exactly I was going to shape it, I just preoccupied me with the position and the length. When my partner saw the pole she was content about its size and said that I had to round off the ends of course to make it nice and practical. “Of course”, I thought, but how am I going to do that without a turning lathe. With a file and sandpaper! “But, that is going to take ages!”, was my conclusion.

I took a breath, figured out the best way to round off the pole edge and started. It took me more than half an hour to reach a satisfactory result on one side. The other side went a little faster as I figured out how to optimize the work I was doing.

I was very satisfied with the result and the way I managed to go through physical labor to which I initially had resistances. I still had residual resistances at the idea I had to repeat this operation for two other pieces of handrail. But now that I have completed the second pole with easy within the hour and without impatience but just breathing and focusing on the physical aspect of that what I was doing I am confident the third pole will go as smoothly as the others.

Since I had reactions to starting this job I will now work out the resistances I’ve experienced to make sure I recognize patterns of thoughts and emotions so I can effectively direct myself if a future situation triggers these patterns. To do so I will start doing self forgiveness to pinpoint and forgive myself I reacted on a specific point. Then I will define corrections to make sure I will correct myself in a similar situation.

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to experience the physical labour I had to do in order to round off the ends of the pole as difficult and a unnecessary physical activity.

When and as I see myself going into a belief that a specific physical activity is difficult and unnecessary I stop and I breathe. I see, understand and realize that I am limiting myself within this belief.

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to have a tendency to look at how I can avoid physical labor by fantasizing about tools that can do the job but I do not have at my disposal.

When I see myself to have the tendency to avoid physical labor while fantasizing about how I could do it with tools I do not have, I stop and I breathe. I see, understand and realize that I am in the mind and not in the physical, and not acting with what is here and using the actual reality in the best way possible.

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to think that rounding off the pole ends is unnecessary while suppressing the fact there is both a practical and aesthetic reason in making the ends rounded.

When I see myself suppressing real and practical facts with excuses, I stop and I breathe. I see, understand and realize that I am making up excuses while allowing me to suppress the real facts I see but don’t want to see. By stopping suppressing to see the real things for what they are I also stop my fear of dealing with real and physical facts and do not allow myself to hide in thoughts or in suppression.

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to surprised the work seemed easier that expected when taking the labor breath by breath while I know that my mind is able to trick me and let me believe things that are not real. In this specific situation I tended to believe that rounding off the edges of the pole was a terrible activity, which it could have been if I allowed myself to believe it was such an activity.

When I see myself being surprised about physical facts (work) being easier than I thought I stop and I breathe. I see, understand and realize I still believe in my thoughts and tend to stick to it, disregarding the real experience I had on the matter. By allowing myself to accept the real physical experience I am allowing myself to be more effective in dealing with matters I encounter.

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Stages of rounding off a pole

To drink or not to drink…

Drink_1659224cSome five years ago I decided to stop drinking beverages containing alcohol. The motivation behind this decision had many aspects. As part of the process I was in at that moment I had asked myself why I was drinking a glass of wine or beer almost every day. Since the answer was “I don’t honestly know, probably because I am used to it”, I started to dig a little deeper.

I was not drinking for social reasons, nor did I do it under peer pressure. I started drinking in my early twenties but never more than just one glass, occasionally two, in combination with a meal. I never had the urge to drink more than a couple of glasses when going out with friends and I never got drunk.

Adding to this the fact I started to react to the alcohol on a physical level, I decided to stop cold turkey. Since my partner already stopped drinking completely a while earlier it was not a difficult decision in private situations. Also in social situations explaining people why I did not drink (anymore) was quite easy using the health related point.

In the past years I have observed on many occasions how people deal with alcohol. It is impressing and scary at the same time. I’ve seen people becoming uneasy and even aggressive only by the thought they would be deprived from their ‘drug’.

So, in a way, I was happy for myself I was not drinking alcohol anymore, it was easy and allowed me to skip looking at all the aspects and dimensions connected to alcohol. On several occasions where I went to parties with other people, I found myself in the role of the non drinking driver. A role I actually liked because it satisfied my need to be the good and caring type of person taking care of other people not any more able to take full responsibility for their actions.

Very recently I decided to try a glass of wine. In my process of stopping drinking alcohol, wine for me degraded into a silly drink made from rotten grapes. A kind of reaction to the fact in the past I could become really enthusiastic about wine in all aspects. I really convinced myself that wine had an awful taste. And that was the truth for some wines I tasted in all those years.

The glass of wine I had was of a good quality and I drank it with a nice meal. I was almost surprised the wine tasted really good in combination with the food and I enjoyed drinking it. I had just one glass of wine as it was enough taste to go well with the food.

I also found I was not any longer reacting to the alcohol and that meant that from now on I can eventually have a alcoholic drink in specific social occasions. I have no interest in going back to a routine, having a glass has to be a nice experience of taste in combination with food.

After this long period without drinking a drop of alcohol and having done research on who I am and how I stand in relation to alcohol I now feel I can make a real choice whether to drink a glass of wine or beer. It is the same choice as any other type of food or beverage where I take in consideration what is good for my body in that specific moment. I know that I will not make a choice based on routine nor due to social or peer pressure. I will simple choose what is best for me.

In the process I went through I have seen several points I have to address properly in order to close the loop. In the following statements I will apply self-forgiveness to point out a specific topic and make sure I ‘reprogram’ myself.

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to distantiate myself from the effects alcohol can have on people. By doing so I am not taking full responsibility regarding the consequences alcohol can have for my body. 

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to become the savior of the situation in occasions I was the non-drinking person that could safely drive home others that have been drinking. 

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to indirectly encourage people to choose for drinking a (extra) glass of alcoholic beverage when offering to be their driver for the occasion.

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to define wine as a drink made from rotten grapes from a perspective of taking distance from wine as being something bad with according emotions, preventing myself to take wine for what it is for me on an emotional level and for my body on a physical level.

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to use the excuse of reacting to alcohol on a physical level to justify I was not drinking while avoiding to look at other dimensions related to myself and drinking alcohol.

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to define wine as an evil thing by defining it with diminutive adjectives like ‘rotten’. By doing so I gave wine a negative definition that I used to justify the fact I was not going to drink it anymore. 

Living in a hurry

Alone in the wildernessRecently I watched the documentary Alone in the Wilderness driven by the idea of enjoying beautiful shots of nature and wildlife. The documentary tells a story about a man living in the wilderness of Alaska while building himself a log cabin.

Many shots were about this man building his cabin and suggested he spent hours and hours sawing logs to create beams and even planks. I was impressed with the idea someone could have the courage of sawing by hand endless amounts of wood. I would have got restless and eventually opted for a tool that would have me doing this task faster.

But why? Why do I have this hurry, this rush to do my work in as little time as possible? This man out in the wilderness had only one goal, use the summer to build himself a shelter for the winter. He did his work with dedication and patience and he even explained how to saw, even if you get the feeling there is no end to it: find the right rhythm and stick to it.

I was impressed. That is a great way to approach tasks. Find your best rhythm  to do repetitive movements so they are done in the best way for the tool in combination with your body. I recognize this point. I like to do DIY and now I see that there is a relation to this point of hurry. While working with physical things and being focused on just that specific task I am performing in the best way I can, I do not have this feeling of hurry anymore. As soon as my thoughts drift away and I loose focus the results are less precise and I will get back that sense of hurry.

Day to day life is a chain of events with a constant time pressure, at least, that is the way I experience it. I am in a constant hurry while trying to slow myself down since the stress caused by being in a hurry is not supportive for my health. I am sure this feeling of constant pressure is a root cause of my chronical health issues.

The world we live in is only focusing on getting things done faster. It is as if we are loosing all patience and are more and more in a rush, trying to get things done as quickly as possible. Why? I see a direct relation with money and therefore survival. The more and quicker we work the more money we can make. This will allow us to reach the goal of happiness earlier where happiness is defined as a situation with enough money to live comfortably and without money related sorrows.

In my recent life making enough money to survive and have a decent life has been a source of stress and hurry. Now that I am in a more stable situation I see I can manage to take a deep breath once in a while. I also see that when slowing down my thoughts clear up and my productivity increases exponentially. A tasks I might try to do in a hurry while feeling pressure and causing stress and loss of focus can take up many times more effort and time compared to doing the same task after a deep breath and having slowed down myself.

My real challenge now is to slow down in any moment I feel this urge to hurry. When I take a deep breath, assess the situation in that very moment and then decide how to go on I can deploy my full potential. In order to be effective and really apply this point I use the following self forgiveness statements:

I forgive myself I have accepted and allowed myself to live in a sense of rush, preventing myself to be focused and effective with as consequence that I am only adding up to the source of stress instead of taking it away.

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to not slow down and take a deep breath when feeling tense and loosing focus on the activity I am doing.

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to feel anxiety when looking at someone else doing an activity that requires focus, dedication and patience and projecting that situation to myself convincing myself that I would not be able to do the same.

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to not see I can slow down in any moment by taking a deep breath so I can regain my full focus and act according to my fullest potential. 

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to feel the constant pressure of having to hurry in order to perform my tasks while I can live a better, more relaxed, more efficient life by just slowing down and not allowing to be carried away with the sense of rush and hurry that exists in the minds of people around myself.

Anger and frustration – part 2

healthcheckFor context read my previous blog post. Here I will continue with self forgiveness by looking into the points that opened up in my blog.


I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to quickly switch to action in the moment I was confronted with my daughter’s problem allowing me to suppress emotional reactions.

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to deny myself the possibility to be self-honest by immediately going into suppression and denial in the moment I was confronted with my daughter’s form problem and the fact I came home with the wrong GP statement.


I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself, when asked for it by my buddy,  to deny I was dealing with anger as a reaction to the wrongly filled in form and the consequences I would have to walk in order to deal with the situation.

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to suppress the anger that I felt coming up when my daughter told me about the problem with the wrongly filled in form. I immediately focused myself on the actions to take, not allowing myself to breathe, stop and assess the actual situation and my reactions giving myself the opportunity to see and understand how I stand in that situation.

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to consider the anger I felt in the different stages I walked through while dealing with the consequences of the form problem of my daughter as something I should ignore/suppress because I see anger as something bad that reminds me of my father’s anger outbursts.


I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to not allow myself to experience fear when dealing with a situation that threatens the possibility of my daughter having a driver’s license.

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to suppress the fear as one of the emotions triggered by the form problem of my daughter.

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to having suppressed very quickly the moment of fear when my partner noticed the GP statement was wrong. Instead of giving myself a moment to acknowledge the reactions I had on that specific situation, I quickly concluded I had to go back to fix the situation since I felt responsible for not having been able to see this mistake myself.


I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to let frustration “eat” me while I know what I can do to track the cause of the frustration and stop the whole thing all together.

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to start writing a letter to the GP office based on the anger and frustration that I allowed to build up in myself by suppressing my emotions in the first place.


I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to see myself as stupid and unfit for the task when my partner pointed out the answer provided by the GP was wrong.

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to be overwhelmed by the fact I managed to get the requested answer and eagerness to get what we needed to go to the next step and failed to check if the provided answer was OK or not.

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to experience a sense of inferiority in the moment my partner pointed out the answer provided was wrong out of a conviction I am not the best person to do these kind of things since they are normally dealt with by my partner.

I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to doubt I am able to perform any task that is required only because I am making up excuses on why I am eventually not prepared to these tasks, instead of taking responsibility for that specific situation and assess all relevant dimensions and make sure I am properly informed/prepared.


I forgive myself that I accepted and allowed myself to have blamed myself that I did not see the GP was writing a wrong statement and even worse that I have not been able to direct the situation so that I could leave with the statement we needed to carry on.