During a recent flight home from Los Angeles, I found myself thinking about expectations. What are normal expectations? Expanding on that question, what is a healthy expectation? Is there such a thing as healthy expectations or do they only lead us to disappointment, resentment and hurt?
It is my belief that having expectations is risky business when it comes to expectations of human beings, or any life force that encompasses free thought and will.
A healthy expectation may be expecting a traffic light to work correctly or that a businesses will open on the time; however, those are a completely different area than having an expectation of how people will feel, or react to situations. I do think having expectations on how people will react with emotion, or their response to life situations is a recipe for disaster, or at least disappointment. So, for the sake of drilling down on this idea, let’s focus on expectations and people.
The tricky part is this has nothing to do with the other “people” but everything to do with you.
I know. You don’t even have to say it, I know. I do believe people have to be accountable for their actions, but they are NOT responsible for your feelings. Expectations have everything to do with our feelings, so let’s tighten the scope even more. To have an expectation is to have a preconceived idea of how things “should” be, or better yet, how you “want” them to be. The truth is, you have zero control over anything but yourself. Zero. Consequently, if you are having any expectations based on what you have no control over, (ie, people, places or things,) you are setting yourself up for some unpleasant emotional terrain.
I would suggest when facing a situation where you are having feelings of anger, frustration or deep disappointment that seems to be unshakable in response to a situation, ask yourself, why? Brene Brown has a clear and concise definition in her book, Rising Strong, when she states, “Here is what you need to know about disappointment: Disappointment is unmet expectations, and the more significant the expectation, the more significant the disappointment.”
The action that works most if I find myself at the crossroads of, “how did this happen?” and “this is not how I thought this would turn out!” I take a step back, evaluate what my part is, and then move to a place of acceptance and observation. This place, of observation is much more comfortable, and my view is not blocked by my preconceived ideas of “how I think it should be.”
The truth is, you cannot control the outcome of situations.
What you can do, is check your intention of action and make the best choice available to you at the time. The beauty is, the outcome may not be what you wanted, it might just be part of the unpredictable events of your life that blend together to be better than you could have ever imagined.