I went out to dinner looking forward to enjoying a delicious meal. As I studied the menu, I noticed a few new items had been added and they sounded really good based on the description given. I made my choice and looked forward to experiencing a tasty new dish. When my meal arrived, it looked and smelled wonderful, but after sampling the first bite it was clearly not what I was expecting.
Last week, the lawn service arrived in the morning to mow the lawn. When I went out to the backyard later that day, I discovered that one of the plants I had been caring for and was getting ready to bloom had been cut down by the weed eater.
Just yesterday, I flipped the switch to turn on the swimming pool light, but nothing happened.
With each one of these scenarios, I experienced disappointment that was rooted in my expectations.
Are expectations a bad thing?
Expectations that are realistic can give us peace of mind and make us feel safe. Here are some examples: I expect when I go to the grocery store, there will be food on the shelves. I expect when I take a shower there will be warm water. I expect the washing machine will clean my clothes. I expect when I lock my front door, no one can enter from the outside without having a key or an unlock code.
While realistic expectations can offer peace of mind, they can also leave us disappointed when there is a breakdown. That said, we usually have more control over these types of expectations and the disappointments they bring are usually more temporary because we have greater ability to improve the situation and more control to create a solution.
But what about unrealistic expectations?
The dreams, the desires, and the wants we have towards the behaviors of our loved ones or of life? Our spouse, our children, our parents, our best friends, and of the world around us? Look at these examples.
“If I am a good parent, my children will grow up to be well behaved, resist drugs, do their best work in school, and find a great job and partner.”
“If I am a good and loving spouse, my marriage will be healthy and easy.”
“When I retire, my golden years are going to be the best years of my life, filled with less stress, lots of fun and time to do what I want.”
“If I am a nice person, everyone will like me.”
While doing the best we can promotes better outcomes, doing our best or wanting the best for others does not guarantee that the outcomes will be what we want. As you consider some of these types of expectations in your life, ask yourself how much control do you have over the outcome? Opposite from realistic expectations, unrealistic expectations can create ongoing disappointment while inviting resentment and bitterness to steal away our joy and peace.
Factors to consider when disappointment is present
First, recognize what is disappointing you? Where is it coming from? Other’s behaviors or your desires?
Do your expectations of others line up with their wishes or desired outcomes?
Are you expecting others to decide or make a choice based on what you desire for them?
Do those you have expectations of, have the same wants and desires for the outcome as you?
Are you holding on to your disappointment allowing resentment and hard feelings to grow?
Is it time to let go of some of your expectations and move on?
Where is your focus? Is it on the negative? Do you find yourself often focusing on what’s wrong with the situation instead or what’s right?
Every day I am given the opportunity to work with coaching clients who find themselves disappointed by circumstances of life. If you would like to talk over some of the disappointments in your life, I would love the opportunity to have a conversation with you.
You and your life always matter,
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