My friend M would be proud that I’ve decided to write about this. It’s a topic he’s bringing up to me on a regular basis and really, I’ve yet to talk about it much here. The art of managing your own expectations. According to M, expectations lead to unhealthy behaviors; and ultimately, he’s not wrong. But, life experience, years of instincts, science in general, and being good observers has taught us all to expect certain behaviors or outcomes. So I often say it’s a losing battle. In fact, I often tell him that he’s silly for thinking he can even obtain that goal. But today – I can’t help but wonder if he’s right. We all build up expectations in our heads. How we think someone should react or how we think something should go. Perhaps he’s right – the act of having those expectations in our minds only serves the purpose of disappointing us when things go differently than we’d hoped or anticipated?
I have, on a number of occasions in my life, been disappointed by my expectations going wonky. Sometimes, it’s when I don’t speak my own needs what I’m thinking and then come to find out that I’m on a different page from someone else. Sometimes it’s when I think I’ll get a certain reaction about something, and find I’m seeing the opposite. Either way, I end up disappointed.
So who’s fault is that? Mine. Because somehow, somewhere, I took a misstep and either failed to communicate, or failed to listen. That actually could be the key there, that second bit. Listening. How often do we really listen to what someone else is saying. So often, we’re only “listening” in order to wait for our turn to speak again. How often can we really say that we listen with the intent to actually HEAR what someone else has to say? To actually put ourselves in their shoes and understand what they are trying to tell us? I’d say it’s not very often at all.
I found myself struggling a little tonight, with my expectations of someone else. Someone I care deeply for. But I think what I’m coming to process is that my disappointment over their lack of reaction is on me. I had an expectation that perhaps I didn’t even know that I had… and when they gave me their honest reaction.
It’ll be ok. It’s always ok.
What’s interesting tho… what triggered me to write this out, is that my anxiety went up as I sat and processed all of this. As I tried to contain my disappointment and frustration and simply try and understand. I’m still struggling a little. Not because I don’t understand their point of view – I actually do. But because regardless of my level of understanding – it means caving on something that I’m not sure I want to cave on. It means lowering my own expectations – whether I knew they were there originally or not, and compromising. And perhaps, on this, I don’t want to compromise.
Funny, my brother and I were talking about anxiety today. He called me on my way home and was telling me how surprising it is to him that as he gets older, his anxiety gets more pronounced. He started out in his younger years with little to no anxiety – and now that he’s in his 40’s, he’s finding that he actually struggles with it at times.
It made me feel better somehow. I don’t remember being an anxious child or teenager. Heck, I’m not even sure I’d have said I was anxious in my twenties. It’s only been as I’ve gotten older that I’ve recognized my own anxieties for what they are. They are of course, manageable. No one would likely even know that I have them. But I do. They are with me always. Not sure I’m comforted by that.
Well neverland, thanks for letting me spit this out and process it. I’m not sure I’ve figured it all out yet, but I’m getting there. Yay for that. Although, in truth, I’mnot sure I ever really will. Goodnight Neverland. Dream sweet when you get there.