What is it about humans having expectations? We as humans decide to live a certain way and expect others around us to be the same way. When others do not fit into what we believe is normal, they fall below our expectations and disappoint us. We can have very high standards of others, even more than of ourselves. We expect our children to act a certain way, our parents to be a certain way, our friends to believe in certain things. We consider strangers as annoyances and look at them in dismay when they do not look or act the way we think they should. We have expectations of other drivers, the weather, and our pets. Our emotions and actions are driven by what we expect from the world around us.
Do you think it is reasonable to place expectations on others? Have you ever tried to just watch the world around you instead of put every piece in its perfect place? Have you ever appreciated the unpredictable? I myself am very guilty of placing expectations on others. When it gets really bad I find myself getting depressed and angry. Sometimes I don’t understand why I have a constant feeling of disappointment.
For example, I used to place the expectation on my husband to send me flowers every Valentine’s Day. I would be on edge all day, stressing, wondering if my doorbell would ring. If nothing happened I would get so angry with my husband and let him know it. I was in my early twenties at the time and now it all sounds a bit immature.
Disappointment has consumed me many times and has caused an emotion to well up inside me. I then act on that emotion without thought and have many times hurt others around me. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of expectations. When we force our expectations onto others, we are trying to control them instead of allowing them to just be who they are. How will children grow up to be great decision makers and develop who they really are if they are constantly told “no” or “you should” and other phrases of expectation? How will we develop strong relationships with friends and family if we continue to have expectations of them? They always end up disappointing us in the end, don’t they? When in reality, it is our own expectations that have disappointed us.
It’s not only others I place expectations on, but also myself. If I was the perfect wife, dinner would be made everyday, the grocery bill would be way under budget, the laundry would never pile, and the house would be spotless. If I was the perfect mom, my kids would always look adorable, they would never fight, and my house would always be full of activity and yummy smells.
How about you? If you were the perfect career person, your paycheck would continually reflect that, your colleagues would always pat you on the back, and your boss would be your best friend. If you were the perfect friend, your friends could always count on you to be there anytime they needed you, you would always have the right thing to say to them, you would always answer the phone on the first ring, and you would be the most fun person in the world to be around. I could go on and on! How about you, husbands? You would never let the trash be taken out by your wife, the bills would never pile, the kids would always listen to you, the couch would never call you into a mindless void, and your kids would be completely emotionally sound. Right???
WRONG!!! Those things are what culture has created. Do you live by those standards? Maybe those are completely opposite from your standards. Maybe you are the type to “live and let be,” and when things get too complicated, then you are disappointed.
Do you get upset at yourself because you don’t measure up to your own expectations? How much stress do you have from too many expectations of yourself? Did you really think you would get that big project done when you had the car break down, your wife got sick, and the toilet backed up all in the same day? Did your baby have a blow out right when you got him into his carseat and now you will be late or even miss your next appointment? Maybe your alarm did not go off and there is no explanation for it. Did it stress you out and make you upset? How can you be so hard on yourself for things you cannot control?
We humans live our days naturally assuming things will be a certain way. It is how you deal with things, when they do not go how you assumed they would, that can create disappointment. Do you ever tell someone they are wrong for what they do or wrong for what they believe? Maybe you do not tell them, [but] you just think it about them. You cannot live a life expecting others to fit your mold. Do you realize you do not fit the mold of others? You will never live up to others expectations? It is a vicious cycle.
The point here is that you can drive yourself insane when you place unreasonable expectations on the world and people around you. You cannot control who does what and what happens. You can only control how you manage your emotions and actions. It is natural to assume things will be a certain way. How you deal with them is what you need to be aware of. If you have a moment, write out what you are frustrated about and think about the whole picture. You will discover more about yourself and others when you stop and think about all the circumstances involved. You will be less stressed and upset when you study the whole situation instead of jumping to conclusions and reacting based on your first assumption.
At some point I quit expecting those flowers or anything for that matter from my husband for Valentine’s Day. I was never disappointed when something didn’t come. Then one day, a delivery came to the door. I can’t even tell you how excited I was to receive the flowers. As you can see, you will find many sweet serendipities when you are not placing expectations on others and things around you. You may find yourself a lot let stressed and a lot more blessed!
Live a life without expectations—it’s easier said than done. Try thinking about it today. Walk about your day and when you feel frustrated or disappointed, even angry, stop and wonder why. Why are you upset? Are you mad at the driver in front of you because they forgot to click their blinker on? Have you ever forgotten to turn your blinker on? Maybe it doesn’t work, or they just got horrible news that is affecting how they are able to concentrate, or they just plain forgot. We don’t know others situations or thoughts, therefore we cannot place what we expect on to them. Let others be who they are and, instead of being upset that they fall below your expectations, be curious why they are doing what they are doing. Maybe your kid’s room is not picked up because they were using their creative mind to create a great story with the toys. Did you ask them what the toys were doing or did you only ask them why they were still all over the floor? It might be fun to find out what they are thinking. We have to live one day at a time. Dream for the future and live for today. Be curious about the world around you!
Watch this week and see what makes you upset, was it because the world was really attacking you or is it really because you thought it should take place a certain way and it didn’t? Why did you get so frustrated about something not happening as you planned? Who did you get mad at because they didn’t do what you thought they would? Instead, be curious of the world around you.
Have a great week, remember to BE CURIOUS!!!