Expectations and feedback

Within any area of life, family, work and spirituality there are expectations.  Some of them will be the expectations others have or seem to have of you, some of them will be expectations you have of yourself.

Recently I have hit something of a wall in my path of Druidry and indeed as a Pagan.  That wall seems to block my path in every direction I turn and it’s made of the expectations I have placed on myself in the past and those I perceive, rightly or wrongly, others have placed upon me.  Built into that wall over and over again are the words and concepts of service and commitment. I’ve only just been able to step back enough to be able to recognise the nature of the wall I am facing never mind find a way through, over or under it.

Rightly or wrongly I place a great deal of weight on my ability to make commitments to serve the wider Pagan and Druid community.  Some of that weight has come from my perceptions of expectations in the wider pagan community that people should make a commitment to their path, should dedicate themselves to service in some way. Some of that weight has come from me judging myself against what I used to be able to do, the ways in which I could serve then and can not now.

Here’s a couple of the more memorable blog posts and a link to a web page I have read in the recent past that have both added to my wall and yet also allowed me to gain enough clarity to see what is building my wall.

Pagan Apathy – Blog post by Joanna van der Hoeven
A Call to Service – Blog post by Nimue Brown
The Order of the Yew – web page on the Druid Network site

There’s also been discussions about service and commitment on facebook groups and other places.

Today after reading this post on historical validation by my partner I realised that at some stage I replaced historical validation of my path with a need for validation through service and commitment. And that’s where feedback comes in.  I, like most of us, judge myself on the feedback I receive either directly or indirectly about my service and commitment.  My perception of the feedback I am currently receiving is that I somehow need to do more, that I am somehow less worthy of the title of Druid because I can not give more.  This perception is strong enough that it forms a significant part of the reason why I no longer refer to myself as a Druid but as someone walking in the forest of Druidry.

I have made and fulfilled a number of commitments as a Pagan and Druid in the past.  Some of them came to natural ends, others I stepped back from because of changes in my life. My perception of myself is that somehow I should be able to do more again but I can’t.  I may want to do more but to even make the attempt to do so would almost certainly lead to letting people down and not being able to carry out tasks.  This is the nature of my life as it is now.  Somehow though I feel something of a failure, somehow less a Druid, less a Pagan because I can not make those commitments to service in the wider Druid and Pagan communities that I used to.  The indirect feedback I am picking up out of all sorts of places is that I should do more and because that is what I am picking up I feel lessened and at a loss to know how to move forwards.

I don’t have the answers to all of this at the moment.  I can’t see my way past this wall but I can now see what the wall is made up of.  I can recognise that it is partly of my own building in the expectations I have of myself and in the feedback I am listening to the most.

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4 thoughts on “Expectations and feedback

  1. You have a seriously challenging parenting situation, that you talk about openly and honestly. Service to family is service. What you put in the public domain about your struggles, hopes and setbacks is an on-going lesson in perspective for other parents. I mention this in case it has not occurred to you that this has impact. There are powerful things that you're doing by living them as best you are able. It's not all about the jobs that require you to put on the robes.

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  2. Hi Potia,

    Quite often the feedback we pick up (or the feedback we pay most attention to) is the sort that confirms our inner feedback – in your case the perception you have of yourself that somehow you should be able to do more.
    It might be helpful to look at where this perception or expectation of yourself comes from. Conditioning from early life? A feeling that you have to justify your existence?

    I have to say that I tend to avoid people who say 'you should' however well-meaning because they tend to speak out of their own beliefs and expectations rather than being prepared to metaphorically walk a hundred miles in your shoes and understand your particular life, needs, capacities and energy.

    Something I found helped me when I was in a similar state was this quote by Howard Thurman, an African American philosopher and theologian: ' Don 't ask what the world needs; ask instead what makes you come alive, then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.' That makes sense to me – 'coming alive' involves having energy and enthusiasm for life. These are good things to put into the world and pushing ourselves to serve when there are probably already so many demands on us and so many ways in which we do serve only depletes us and leaves us of not much use to anyone… Sometimes doing something for ourselves or something we love doing puts more positive energy into the world than struggling to do our duty as we perceive it…

    Also, I think it's helpful to consider the idea of passing the baton. We do what we can, run the race to the best of our ability, and sometimes we no longer have the energy to keep going and it's right to hand over to other people for however long it takes.

    Anyway, I hope you get through the wall soon,
    Love and hugs x

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  3. I myself base much of my own druidry on service to the community but I've seen people self destruct by pouring too much energy – to much of themselves – into the void. I'd just say: do only what makes you comfortable and set clear boundaries where necessary. If people judge you harshly, well, that's their problem and no real reflection of your ability or your path.

    I do have actual feedback if that will help. It's not critical feedback I'm afraid – if that's what you're looking for?

    Between yourself and Red Raven, you contributed 597 changes to TDN's website. If you hadn't come along when you did, I can't honestly say the work would have been completed. I (and probably bish) was feeling a little tired of working on it day in and day out with little assistance and I was heading for an implosion myself. Sometimes energy put into a project creates new energy and that's exactly what you did. You inspired us to come at the work afresh with new eyes. And for that I'm deeply grateful.

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