Expectations can lead to disappointment…


Are all expectations unrealistic?  Isn’t it okay to expect certain things from our friends and family?  What do we do when they disappoint us?

I don’t know if I can answer my own questions; but I’ve been thinking a lot about expectations and disappointment lately.  It seems that recently I’ve been dealing with a certain amount of disappointment due to failed expectations of some sort.  Several personal situations have turned out less than ideal.

I’ve heard it said that expectations build walls.  What does that mean?  Is it true?  And recently, I read a quote by Tony Robbins – Trade your expectations for appreciation and your whole world changes in an instant!  While I can see this working for a lot of circumstances, I don’t think it’s possible to avoid expectations at all costs.  And in life, there will always be disappointment and hurt.

I can see how someone could make the argument that we shouldn’t expect people not to lie to us.  I mean, we are humans.  We make mistakes; and we are all capable of hurting others.  But I’d like to also argue the other side.  While we ARE imperfect, if we didn’t have realistic expectations, then we wouldn’t have any boundaries or guidelines for the way we deserve to be treated.

I expect that my friends are honest with me.  I have a level of expectation that if they tell me something, it will be the truth.  If they apologize, I expect an explanation.  I don’t want to stop believing in the ideal.  I don’t want to stop expecting the best.

I don’t really know why or how the word ‘expect’ got to be such a dirty one.  Perhaps it’s because it can have two distinct meanings – to believe or assume.  Believing in something is usually okay; but assuming without proper knowledge can get us into trouble.

Maybe it’s all semantics, so call it what you want.  I’d like to focus on the principle of believing that we all deserve to be treated a certain way.  Yes, that means disappointment; and, yes, it means forgiveness.

Expectations are the laws of relationships.  Like other laws, we follow a set of guidelines to bring structure and equality.  It’s best when they can be discussed and agreed upon ahead of time.  Unfortunately, that usually doesn’t happen until after the disappointment.  When the law is broken, there are consequences.  Sometimes the friendship with the person who lied can be salvageable.  Sometimes it takes a long time to repair and will never be the same.  Regardless, there should always be forgiveness.

A precious life lesson: holding resentment is like drinking poison while waiting for the other person to die.

My parents taught me that forgiveness is a decision and a choice, not a feeling.  We usually don’t feel like forgiving, especially right away.  But forgiveness is important for us, not just the other.  It helps us heal and move on.  It doesn’t mean that we pretend everything is okay and go back to the way things were.  Sometimes it means that things must change.  And perhaps it means – no longer expecting the person who hurt you to be the kind of friend you’d expect.

What do you think?  Can expectations be a good thing?

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