The Expectations Creep
Expectations creep up on you when you are surprised, shocked, or angered by what’s coming at you in the present moment. Whenever you are reacting to what reality is showing you, you are reacting to how things, people, events should be according to you and not as they are. This means that expectations are a fantasy concocted by your mind. You may be asking yourself, “But Eva, does this mean I shouldn’t have any standards and just let everything fly?” No! Not at all. We all have standards, prerequisites, expectations of ourselves, of others, of life. It’s how we operate in relationships of all types. The problem isn’t in having expectations, the problem is in our tantrum when things don’t go as we deem fit.
- Mom tells a child that she expects homework to be completed before 7 PM. The child plays video games/ talks with friends/ plays with toys. Mom asks the child if homework is done right around bedtime. The child says no. Mom takes away phone/ TV/ toys/ playdates/ yells/ spanks to teach child a lesson.
- The couple has a baby. Mom is tired from work/baby caretaking. Asks her partner to change the baby’s diaper. Partner says no, he’s busy. Mom gets angry/ berates partner for never helping/ suggests counseling/ threatens divorce/ throws stiletto at her partner’s face.
- A friend lends friend money. Friend expects to be repaid. The friend makes excuses and does not pay back the friend. Friend blasts friend on FB for not returning money/ sends collection agency/ blocks friend from the phone.
- Moved into the perfect house after months of research and seeing 12,978,236,572 houses across the county only to find out there are tons of structural problems with it. Sell the house/ invest in repairs/ take a sledgehammer and have at it.
All different reactions to scenarios and all leave you thinking who is the victim here? What if no one is a victim? What if having high expectations is a way of protecting yourself from dealing with the reality of the situation? Abiding by your expectations sets you further apart from reality and further apart from finding a solution. Many people suffer in relationships because they want it all. They want their expectations to be met by the same person who continuously falls short of ever meeting them. AND to top it off, they continue to suffer because they blame the other person for failing to meet their expectations. For those of us in therapy or any type of self-improvement, we understand the intricacies of what it takes to change. How bittersweet self-awareness is. But, then we expect that the other person will change just because we will it? Because it doesn’t fit with our perception of reality? It’s kinda funny. Dr. Shefali says we always have a choice. We can change, try to change them, let it go, let them go. Choose wisely. Sometimes, by changing our expectations we get closer to meeting them. I’m here if you find yourself disappointed by people you care about because they just don’t get it and don’t seem to meet your needs.