Expectations are integral to our experience of life. They govern almost every aspect of our lives from the most trivial to the most important. Some of our expectations relating to the world we live in and to our daily lives: we expect drivers to stop at red lights; we expect the doors at our workplace to be unlocked when we arrive, and we expect our house to be standing tomorrow just like it was today.
Other expectations pertain to people. Parents expect that their children will outlive them. We expect our best friend to be loyal to us. We expect our spouse to be there for us if we get ill. Most mothers expect their children to call them on Mother’s Day. We expect our children who graduate from college to find work in their area of interest.
We also have expectations that are more hopes or wishes than realistic expectations. We expect our critical father not to criticize us the next time we share something even though he has never been accepting in the past. We hope and sometimes expect that in time we will find our true love and partner in life. Most women expect to have children. We expect our alcoholic family member not to drink because they promise not to anymore.
Our expectations help guide our lives in positive ways, but when the things we expect don’t come to pass we are often terribly disappointed, sometimes even devastated emotionally. Expectations are a two-edged sword.
Some questions to consider:
1) Do you see having expectations as good or as problematic? When are expectations good and when are they problematic?
2) Can you discern when your expectations are realistic and when they are not realistic? How do you handle your unrealistic expectations?
3) What happens when your expectations are not met? How do you cope with disappointment?
4) What expectations do you currently hold about the world? About yourself? Of your friends, your family, and your future?
5) Are there expectations you need to modify or discard? Any you need to add?