10/15/2014 11:31 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Expectations of Whys


"Why are you so annoyed with everyone?" "Why are you snapping at the kids?" He asked.

Why? I think to myself biting my tongue while ironing a pair of my son's pants that he remembered he needed at the last minute and willing myself not to reply. It's precisely the why that's part of the reason for my simmering anger exhibited as annoyance.

Because why is an accusing word. A word that is inherent criticism.

After all, if everything was perfect, you wouldn't need to ask why. Have you ever heard anyone ask "Why is the house so clean?" or "Why were the errands all run?" or "Why did the company earn an extra five million dollars?" No. You haven't.

You've only heard the word why used when something has not lived up to expectations.

"Why are the dishes in the sink?" "Why am I waiting so long?" "Why doesn't this dress look right?"

Even the why of toddlers that we view as inquisitive questions is critical. "Why is the sky blue?" Well why shouldn't it be? Is there something wrong with that color? What color do you think it should be? The better question would be, "What makes the sky blue?". Or perhaps, "Is there a reason for the sky to have been created in the color blue?"

But back to my annoyance. I'm annoyed because I'm angry. Angry at myself for not living up to my own expectations. Angry at myself for not living up to others' expectations, real and imagined. Angry at myself for not having my needs met. Angry at myself for thinking it's selfish to put my needs first. Angry at myself that I don't know how to prioritize and because I don't know how to say no. Angry that I feel guilty when I finally manage to say no.

Mostly I'm upset at the unrealistic and unviable expectations I have weaved into my life. Worse are the unrealistic expectations I believe others have of me. And yet, I have only myself to blame, because I'm the one who taught myself and others what to expect from me. My list of "need to dos" has gotten longer and longer, yet no more minutes or hours have been added onto the days.

So the whys and the expectations are weighing down my soul, pulling my physical being with it, while the seeming lack of appreciation drags me down even more.

I feel taken for granted, I feel criticized and my unrealistic expectations of myself ensure that I will never break free.

Whys are the perpetuators of expectations that no longer match your being. The problem is that whys are just as tough to let go of as expectations.

I can't possibly be the only one with this problem, right? So does anyone have any tips on how to let go?