When I think about all the times I’ve been in emotional turmoil, it seems like I can always trace it back to my expectations. When I was working, I expected people to be professional, smart, and respectful (of me). Needless to say, people didn’t always meet my criteria, and I’d allow my disappointment to become frustration and anger. I’d take it out on them. When I’m with family, I expect them to always be loving and gentle with me. When they aren’t, I get my feelings hurt and fall into self-pity and anger. With contractors working on a project to maintain my older home, I expect them to arrive on time, do excellent work, and clean up afterward. When they don’t, I fall into a ‘justifiable’ rage – so much so that I can’t even speak to them. There are many examples of my expectations not being met and me going on an emotional bender.
What I’ve learned is that my expectations set me up to feel unloved, disrespected, hurt, and/or angry – anything but on the beam. Of course, there is an element of acceptance here. But, for me, the expectations come before anything even happens. I get an idea of how things are supposed to be in my mind, and I judge the world – and everyone in it – based on that idea.
The fault is not in everyone else. It’s in me. Deciding I know how things are supposed to unfold or how other people are supposed to behave is my Achilles’ heel and the biggest threat to my sobriety and most certainly my serenity. For me, there’s a very long learning curve on keeping an open mind and just letting people and things be. Restraint of tongue and pen helps me avoid becoming someone I don’t want to be. Recognizing when I am working on my expectations before a social event helps me a lot with acceptance.
Do expectations set you up to fall off the beam? What do you to manage expectations and stay on the beam?