Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Great Expectations

Expectations lead to disappointment.

Ever heard that before? Did you make you vomit a little when you heard it?

Stop and think about that. Answer in your head, keep it to yourself, what the implications of that statement are. Think about it....

It's ridiculous isn't it?

Wait, Will. Look at how beautiful the world would be if you saw things that way. I'd be surprised by the sunrise every morning, I'd be overjoyed that my roommates didn't steal everything from my apartment overnight and are still nicely tucked away in their beds, fast asleep dreaming sweet dreams with no expectations of waking up. Heck, I don't expect the banks to hold my money. I don't expect people to keep their word when they make a promise. I don't expect a policeman to randomly open fire at me as I drive by.

It's a horrible world, isn't it? Sure. Expect the worst and you won't be hurt. That's what that means. Pain is the motivator, or the averting factor.

Going back to the sunrise. I'd flatly disagree. A sunrise is more beautiful because I know it will come everyday. My expectations make it that much better. And it's that easy.

Aside from my timid counter-arguments, I’ve come to learn truth speaks for itself and often doesn’t need mine or anyone’s defense. Common sense runs nicely at its side.

When a person says something something as horrible and nasty (I'll call it that because that's what it is) as expectations only lead to disappointment, they are rearranging the way they view everything that happens in their life based on the pain of disappointment. Pain is not the same as evil. Pain is not the worst thing that could happen to a person. Stop being such a hedonist. Get over it.

Expectations can be dangerous, though not in people’s philosophy of life, but in the way they go about their friendships and relationships. I’ve heard several people in the training for my summer job say they get angry when people don’t do things they expect them to do. My only question is, “Did you tell them you expected that? Did they agree to it?”

It’s not hard. If you go to all the trouble of being offended to the point of holding a nasty grudge for months and months until the friendship is only a passing silence, or superficial niceties with nothing underneath, then I think a person is entitled to know what expectations you placed on them, and there should be some agreement.

“He should know I’m angry with him. He knows what he did.” Guess what? He probably doesn’t know. His first job in this world is not to read your mind. It isn’t, nor should it be.

What’s the key phrase used to solve this bad habit in relationships: realistic expectations. I like the sound of that. Realistic expectations have a mutual tone to them that levels the playing field. A person with realistic expectations of others has a baseline view of politeness and etiquette. Expecting apologies when your feelings are hurt or you are angry is not a realistic expectation. To expect people’s complete attention in catering to your needs without you telling them is an unrealistic expectation. I completely agree that it is ideal, and it would be nice, but it’s unrealistic.

People carry with them a million tasks, thoughts, and feelings in a single stroll to their car. Where does a person get off saying they should know what other people are thinking and feeling? “Should” is a powerful word, and becomes lethal when misused. Let’s not get luxury and duty mixed up.

Is anyone listening?


Stresspenguin said...

These expectations is what breaks pastors. Destroys churches.

I was amazed last night as someone in my congregation attacked me verbally for not living up to her expectations regarding something that happened three years ago. Completely unrealistic view of well, everything. it came down to me not being able to read her mind or something. I don't know.

I'm beginning to think that our service-based economy is leaking into service based relationships. All these unspoken expectations of others floating around, it's gonna make a lot of people's lives hell.

estherrose2of8 said...

You doubled "something" once in one of the middle paragraphs. Just my copy editor mind goin'.

It's really interesting reading this after some of what we've talked about/you asked me about. And I think you have fabulous points. Another phrase I've heard that's similar to the one you mentioned is something along the lines of "The key to being successful (or happy)? Lower your standards." My voice professor said that in jest one day- I didn't enjoy that comment. Having high expectations CAN lead to disappointment, and in relationships can be detrimental, but I think this is only when they are not appropriate (you covered this) and when they are not communicated (you also touched on this- we shouldn't have to read minds). Howwevvverrrr high expectations for a person also make it possible for those expectations to be met. If a teacher sets the bar at about waist level in a class, I won't try. But if they set it a couple feet above my head, I'll jump till I reach it, and either way I'll be "successful". Danger about the high bar: some students don't reach it. But if the high expectations allow for growth, is that not worth it? I think you would agree with me. I think similar things happen in parent-child relationships and friend-friend relationships. You talked mostly about feelings as far as relationships are concerned. I'm certainly not an expert in the area, but I think it's appropriate to expect some emotional understanding. Clarification: This is only fair when emotions are clearly communicated (just like you said). You said not to expect apologizes when feelings are hurt or when angry. I disagree. If there's any type of positive relationship there, the person who caused the emotional turmoil probably did not desire it and would be sorry, and an apology would be appropriate. (Again, whoever's feelings got hurt does need to say so.) Perhaps I'm just reinforcing your points and rambling on... maybe so. :) Either way, I enjoyed it oooh ya and lovely title.