I’ve been thinking about why we set such unrealistic expectations. For instance, in intimate relationships, why do we always go in thinking we can change the other person? Why is it so hard to just accept people as they are? I have a sneaking suspicion that it has to do with control, but I think it also has a little bit to do with hope. We think the relationship will change them. Or that having kids will help re-adjust priorities or mellow them out. How many times does a relationship fail because we finally realized that those traits are engrained in their personalities. Not only is it not our job to change them, but we simply CAN’T!
The same thing happens in other types of relationships. Let’s take volunteerism for example. Community organizations often rely on their volunteers. Using volunteers to perform vital functions allows small, cash-strapped organizations to reach way beyond their budgets. And volunteers often give their time because they care about the cause – they are personally invested in the process or the project. But volunteers can be sorely taken advantage of and it often comes down to unrealistic expectations. First, someone in the organization demands more than the volunteer is willing or able to give. Volunteers are not employees. Period. Then, when the volunteer fails to meet expectations, they are treated badly. Raise your hands if you’ve ever been in this situation!
As a parent, I constantly struggle with my expectations for my children. I find myself seeing their lives through the filter of my own experiences, placing expectations that are based more on my own priorities and goals for myself than anything at all having to do with the kids. Have you ever had to ask yourself “is this about them or about me?” Try it and see how honest you can be about the answer. It can be hard!
We set unrealistic expectations because we are struggling for a sense of control over our world and the things in it. Think about it. Accepting that you are powerless to control something is scary. And yet, accepting things as they are, without expecting to be able to control or manipulate the outcome, helps us to see the world clearly and to be fully engaged in the present moment.
Today, I will be thankful for the wonders of the world I live in, for the love and support my family and friends give me, for the opportunity to live and work in this beautiful place and for the people in my life, just as they are. Acceptance is the word of the day.
What do you think about unrealistic expectations?
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.