How does that word make you feel?
For me, it is two-fold:
- When I expect things of others: hopeful and idealistic.
- When others expect things of me: nervous to disappoint.
In the case of uncertainty, expectation is what is considered the most likely to happen. An expectation, which is a belief that is centered on the future, may or may not be realistic. A less advantageous result gives rise to the emotion of disappointment. If something happens that is not at all expected it is a surprise. An expectation about the behavior or performance of another person, expressed to that person, may have the nature of a strong request, or an order.
It’s a loaded, heavy word with sometimes exuberant and positive emotions attached to it and sometimes negative and heavy emotions attached to it.
One of the other words that is closely tied to expectations is “realistic.” This one word is the word that I believe deserves the focus. This one idea is what can change a disappointment into a win.
Take a look at any of your current relationships. It could be a friendship, a working relationship, or a romantic relationship. Think about what it is that you expect of that person. Not just surface level but really, truly expect of them. Now think about what is realistic. What can they realistically provide for you and how might that be out of alignment with your current expectations of them.
For example, in my own life, I have a lot on my plate. I both love it and at times, strongly dislike how busy I am, but it is what it is and that is my reality. When new things come into my life or when old things shift, I am honest with all people involved about my availability, my time restraints and my limitations. However, it often happens that the other person’s expectations of me versus what it is I am providing is skewed. When this happens, even though I am stepping up in a big way given my described and declared limitations, the other person is often disappointed, which leaves me feeling terrible about the exchange.
High expectations can cause people to overlook the effort, which often leads to a breakdown in the relationship.
If you find yourself feeling disappointed in people, look inward instead of outward. How might your expectations of that person be skewing your perception of their efforts? If you lowered your expectations to a more realistic space, would you find yourself standing in gratitude for the other person instead? Would you be able to look at their efforts as being a positive, given their reality?
My challenge for you is to look at your relationships – all of them. Instead of going in with high expectations and being left disappointed, lower your expectations to a more realistic level and then look at the relationship again through that lens. You just might find that you can appreciate the other person more and the value they add instead of immediately going to disappointment. You just might find that they’ve been stepping up in a big way, for them, all along.
Gratitude over disappointment.
Love over resentment.