I can remember when McDonald’s restaurants first hit out planet that if you didn’t receive your order within a certain number of seconds, you wouldn’t have to pay for it. Not bad, huh? I’m not sure whether that perk is still in vogue but my remembering that reminds me of a man whom I studied in graduate school by the name of Sigmund Freud. He was to have said that the need for immediate gratification was not conducive to the maturation process. He went on to say that postponing pleasure is the means whereby we develop a sense of character along with maturity.
Well folks, today we live in an “I WANT WHAT I WANT WHEN I WANT IT!” or hedonistic kind of world so you can add up the score insofar as measuring our maturity levels. I don’t mean to generalize but by the same token, the whole of the media is resplendent with examples of this truism. I guess this is why this generation has been labeled “the ‘me generation’. Now, I’ve been working with people with personality problems for many years and I must say that the truism is truer than unfair or overly generalized. It seems to be very difficult for people in our society to postpone pleasure for a greater good. I believe that this is why credit cards have abounded despite the lessons that our financial fiasco teaches about overreaching our budgets. The concept of not buying anything only if we have the actual cash is still foreign to many people. It’s almost like a mania or obsession that people have to shop … shop … shop and depend on their overdraft protection to balance out their checkbooks.
Another example has been found in my work with athletes … both amateur and professional athletes in many different sport venues. Probably the most important element that athletes need to develop and maintain is the ability to focus. This applies both to team and individual sports. If an athlete is distracted by his or her opponent’s “trash talking,” their focus is lost and so might their game. However, I found that disruption to be secondary to another that is more internal than external. It has to do with unrealistic expectations. These expectations can originate within the athlete’s need to “have a perfect game” or it can come from the expectations of others … coaches, family, friends, fans, etc. Once those expectations take over in a person’s mind, no matter how talented, well coached or competent he or she might be, they can get in the way of executing their role.
The issue of unrealistic expectations doesn’t only apply to athletes but problems are easily found in the general population as well. The pressure that our expectations, or those of others, can create can throw us into a quandry to the point that no matter how hard we try, our success is limited as a result. I sense that this may have a great deal to do with the untamed need to have what we want upon demand as well. And so, it may not be selfishness or a lack of character only that drives that need but people tying to live up to expectations they might have of themselves or that others have of them. These expectations can be real or imagined and it makes no difference because the effect is the same.
If the reader feels that his or her life is out of sink with respect to the problems outlined in this article, I propose the following suggestions as ways of correcting the imbalance.
- Do you feel compelled to live beyond your means or demanding immediate gratification in many areas of your life? You need to examine this pattern carefully starting with whether the pattern was learned from others … e.g. parents or friends … that expect you to follow suite. If so, try curtailing your need to a smaller extent. Don’t try to change the pattern altogether because it probably won’t work. However, if you can draw back just a bit and you find yourself feeling better afterwards, then you’re making some progress. This method can be accomplished in stages until you are satisfied that you are more in control of your life and expectations.
- Do you find yourself under pressure a lot? Try examining where this pressure is coming from. If it’s coming from within yourself, try lowering your expectations in a given situation and see what happens. Determine whether you feel more comfortable and relaxed as well as making a judgment as to how the outcome compares to the pressured manner in which you might usually have approached that particular situation. Keep in mind that the more relaxed, comfortable and fun that we experience in dealing with the demands of life, the more positive the outcome.
- If you find yourself succumbing to the expectations that others have of you, you may need to determine how realistic those expectations are for you. if the person or people who may be exhorting you to function without making mistakes, you may need to face them with the negative effect that their expectations are having. If that doesn’t work, you may need to surround yourself with healthier people who aren’t so focused on your meeting their selfish needs.
The “I want what I want when I want it” syndrome is not written in stone. It can be changed to your betterment. The general rule of thumb is that if you’re feeling better as a result of making changes, then whatever you’ve done is good for you and you can never get enough of that … can you?
Both as a consultant and author, Charles Bonasera’s story-telling have motivated people to change patterns and resolve problems in their lives. All of his books contain valuable, practical lessons that people can easily apply to bettering and managing their lifestyles. He has also written a myriad of articles which can be found on his website at www.charlesmbonasera.com.