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Managing Our Expectations

I have been married almost three decades - wow! If I’m honest with you I must confess, there were seasons in life when I wasn’t sure our relationship would make it this far. Why? Because at times our relationship fell far short of my expectations, and I wasn’t always sure I was willing to trade in my expectations for my reality. Herein lies a key I have discovered about life - we need to constantly be re-evaluating and adjusting our expectations and navigate within our reality! As a matter of fact, our expectations can actually be a barrier or hindrance to growth, and even to love.

It is valuable for us to recognize that by definition, “an expectation is not an agreement between people; instead, expectations are beliefs that a certain outcome or event will happen.”

That was the problem with my expectations, they were not based on specific agreements made, and yet I would firmly hold the belief that, “if he loved me he would…” (fill in the blank for whatever expectations come to mind in your own relationship).

If we are honest with ourselves, we don’t just do this in our romantic relationships, we do this for lots of things, including toward ourselves!

  • If that person had any consideration they would....

  • A good boss wouldn’t…

  • That person doesn’t have common sense enough to....

  • My child is ungrateful because…

  • Our government doesn’t care about…

  • I should have...I’ve failed because...Why don’t I ever...

Expectations are the seat of our frustrations - someone or something just isn’t measuring up to what we believe they should do. This leaves us with a choice: we can be perpetually frustrated and potentially even miserable because of unmet expectations, or we can adjust our focus and determine how to best manage our expectations.

The truth is, the only things within our control are our own actions, which includes what and how we communicate. Therefore, it is our responsibility to express our needs and desires to others and then give up the need to control the outcome. Demanding that people live up to all our expectations is not only unreasonable, but does not really produce the kind of love we desire - a love freely given by that unique individual who is separate and different from me.

Expectations We Have for Ourselves

This is a good time to pause and ask ourselves:

  • Do I hold myself to particular expectations?

  • Are my expectations for myself reasonable?

  • Do I expect things from others that I know I don’t even do myself?

“Remind yourself…goals are not the same as expectations! Goals are concrete, based upon reality and facts. Expectations are beliefs based upon hope and opinions.” So, bring a little grace into the equation when it comes to your hopes and the outcomes, and consider releasing yourself from the burden of carrying strongly held internal expectations everywhere you go.

The information on this email/blog is intended for general education purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional and/or medical advice.

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