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It is interesting in my life how having expectations have shifted my reality. In my spring season, I wrote this letter to myself about how I wanted a man to treat me. Now, I don't have a copy of that letter but I remember being very idealistic about what I expected. I think that one of my expectations was that a man in my life would open my door. I am bemused by my memory of what those expectations meant to me at that very young phase of my life. I imagine expectations to be like the tide that comes to the shore. You think that you know what to expect but everytime the tides do a different dance.
I have often thought how expectations create disappointment for us in the "real" world. How we create ideas in our heads about the "shoulds" of life and when we and others in our lives fall short we can become disappointed and jaded. I think about the expectations that we have for our children and when their lives turn out differently than what we expected, do we make a decision to stop loving them? Failed expectations can create unhappiness in our lives and in the lives of others.
The worst failed expectation is when we fail ourselves. Do you resort to beating yourself up or are you kind to yourself and forgiving yourself for your own failings. Yes, expectations can be a slippery slope that we can slide down to our own personal abyss.
So, does that mean we should'nt have expectations of ourselves and others. No, I believe that we can have expectations but remember that failing can be part of our expectation. I have a question that I ask my clients.....Can a child learn to ride a bicycle without falling. The general answer to that question is no. Falling is part of the learning process. If our expectations are tempered with compassion we can rejoice in the success and learn from the failures. Expectations can be our hope and when they are tempered by kindness and compassion they can be achieved over time.
What was I thinking then:
I was working as a social worker and I was setting expectations for my clients. I watched them struggle with the idea of the expectations. Sometimes they would shoot themselves in the foot by deciding "I was not the boss of them" no the court was the 'Boss of them". Some would "try" my favorite word that I hate "try". I hated that word because I knew at the time that the court was not interested in their trying. The court was interested in their doing. Trying was not going to be enough. It is difficult to explain to someone that they would have to step up their game if they wanted to succeed.
The problem with my clients life was that their lives suddenly were filled with expectations. Court expectations, social worker expectations, foster family expectations, attorney expectations. Their lives became a complex web of expectations from every direction. There was a list from everyone that had expectations and no one cared about the stress and worry these expectations may have had on their life. No one cared and they were not given too many passes at trying.
Clients became resentful about all that was expected. The resentment did not help them. I would tell them save you anger get your children back and then you can get angry. Observing all of their frustrations made me wonder was the wall too high to scale.
What do I think 2019
I have evolved into the idea of expectations. I will tell people you can have any expectation that you want to have if you understand there are two caveats. 1 Does the person have the skill set to met your expectation. 2 Do they have the desire. I give the example of a person that doesn't have arms and legs who loves basketball. The person has the knowledge of basketball they have the passion. Question: Can they play professional basketball? Sometimes a person does not have a physical skill set. Sometimes a person does not have a cognitive, psychological, emotional skill set. The person that has a passion for basketball may not be able to play as a professional player they could coach, or work for a basketball team.
What if the person has the skill set but does not have the desire. It is difficult to accept that someone does to want to meet your expectation. What happens when our expectations are not met. We experience, anger, disappointment, frustration or go to our "Why". Managing expectations allows you to have perspective and realize sometimes it is not personal. When a person does not have the desire then managing your response becomes more important.
There can be a reactive response when an expectation is not met. Especially if that expectation is in your "should", "have to" and must category. It is hard to accept that because something may be important to you that it is not important to someone else. The narrative that we create around the world of "should" can lead us right into the proverbial wall that does not move. The wall that we knock our heads on and wonder why is our head bleeding.
Walls don't move unless people want them to move. So if you are hitting your wall because someone else is not meeting your expectation, reflect on the last time you knocked your head against that wall, bandage your head and stop hitting the wall of unrealized expectations.
Thank you for listening to Conversation with Katherine, please feel free to visit my website conversationwithkatherine.com and leave a comment about this podcast. Have a great day and a great conversation in your life about. Expectations