It may be easy to notice when we are pressured by others or when we feel stressed trying to live up to the expectations of others. Noticing the stress, becoming authentic and letting go of the need of approval from others is a journey most of us choose to undertake at some point in our lives. It is certainly one of the paths to undertake so we can attain greater inner peace and harmony. One other path less obvious is the one of letting go of our own expectations and self-condemnation when we do not live up to those expectations! I remember reading a book on achievement and success and the author talked about aiming for a less high mark in an exam. Instead of aiming for a hundred percent, aim for something in the eighties. When I read that my first thought was one of confusion. After all, I had years of school reports with comments from teachers like “could do better”. I was to always told to aim higher! I still remember reading one school report where the principal had said “Sandra should try harder in the subjects she doesn’t like”. I was so indignant when I read that as I felt she had gotten it all wrong. I knew I didn’t apply myself and tuned out in classes I did not enjoy. It wasn’t about the subject at all. When I liked the way a class was taught I excelled. We most probably all remember good as well as challenging times at school. What I learned was I took things personally and if I didn’t connect with a teacher I spent most of my time spaced out in that class! So what made a class interesting apart from the topic? I was sensitive to energies even then and if a teacher enjoyed teaching and interacting with the students I could sense that and responded accordingly. In our everyday lives we can pretty well guarantee that there will be instances where we have to deal with with some people who may not resonate with us. We can choose our friends, we can choose a bank, we cannot always choose who we have to deal with, for example, when it comes to the representatives at the bank. What does this have to do with great expectations? Back to the achievement and success book and aiming lower. It isn’t actually about aiming to get a lower mark. Instead it’s about aiming to do one’s best whatever the outcome. Having the expectation of getting a hundred percent most likely brings disappointment unless one is answering a simple math question where there is no room for interpretation. Instead aiming to be one’s best and thinking perhaps a result of eighty-five percent is likely and being fine with that, what a nice surprise to find out the if the result ends up being ninety-five percent! The same applies when dealing with others. Going into a conversation allowing people to be their best, whatever that may be, is really helpful and may bring some wonderful surprises. Having graduated from school you may no longer be receiving school reports however you may still be giving yourself and others daily grades with comments of “should do better”. This does not mean we are supposed to stagnate and not improve at all. Instead, may I suggest when you notice you would like a different result ,whether it is regarding work or in your personal life, take note and breathe in understanding, letting go of frustration and irritation. If the situation is not to your liking, ask yourself “What energy is required to support change?” Often a different approach with greater understanding is a huge step toward achieving what we desire both in ourselves and for ourselves. And as we make this shift, we see it reflected in our everyday interactions with others and we feel more like the fresh leaf in the photo instead of crumpled and done.