We all tend to have expectations. Some realistic, some unrealistic, and some we don’t even know we have. Expectations can motivate a person or negatively affect a person. Only we can decide what the effect will be.
We rely on expectations for predictability. We learn from past experiences and use those to determine what might happen in the future.
When we ask a youngster to tell us their name, we expect that they will tell us. When we go to bed, we expect to fall asleep. When the phone rings, we expect someone to be on the other end of the call. Realistic expectations.
He should know that I like to have the floor swept when I come home. My kids should know that I’m tired when I get home. My neighbor should know I don’t like to hear their music. When we “should” on ourselves, those are often unrealistic expectations. Here are a few common expectations that might sound familiar:
Life should be easy.
People should like me.
He knows what I’m trying to say.
Money will make me happy.
Girls should grow up and get married.
Our hopes and dreams are often attached to expectations. The problem with this is when our hopes and dreams are attached to unrealistic expectations, we are often disappointed and this can lead to resentments. We often feel disappointed, let down, shocked, and indignant when our expectations are not met. Expectations are just resentments waiting to happen. Steve Lynch wrote “unrealistic expectations are premeditated resentments”, especially when expectations are unspoken.
Life doesn’t always turn out the way we want and resentments begin to brew. When the expectation involves someone else, we set the other person up for failure if we don’t share the expectation with them. We can often be disappointed even after we share our expectations because the other person is not willing or able to change their behavior.
Expectations can make you happy and be positive or they can be negative and cause frustration and hurt. Look at all the expectations you have, and decide which category they fall into. If the expectation makes you happy, keep it! If the expectation is frustrating, confusing, or causing hurt consider the following:
Am I expecting too much or too little?
Where did this expectation come from?
What caused me to expect this in the first place?
Is this a social expectation or a personal expectation?
What would happen if I didn’t expect this?
If this expectation has brought me pain in the past, why do I still have it?
Can I do what I am expecting others to do?
Is there a way to make this work for me?
Who is the person responsible for meeting this expectation?
What you may find after you have created this list is that you don’t have control over much of this list. Once you realize what you do have control over, concentrate on that and work to accomplish what you are expecting of yourself. By letting the other stuff go, you will find you have released yourself of much stress and oftentimes drama.
Like I always tell my kids, “Not my monkeys, not my circus.”
This is just one of the many things I work on when working with 1:1 clients. If you are ready to make some changes in your life, text “EMC” to 206-309-6580 and I’ll be in touch.