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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Great Expectations

EXPECTATIONS get us into more messes than we can poke a stick at. When we set high expectations of ourselves, and fail to achieve them we can only be disappointed. We set them high of others, and not only is it unfair, it creates unnecessarily conflict. Then, of course, there are the expectations others place on us. That’s another ball-game altogether.

Expectations are best when they’re checked and agreed. They need to be valid to the situation.

Sometimes we can find ourselves setting expectations without even realising. We need to be careful of that one. There’s almost nothing more dangerous than uncommunicated expectations in relationships—any relationship—with ourselves, others or God i.e. as a result of being disappointed with life. (Felt the sting of self-pity lately?)

Much the same as Charles Dickens’ classic by the same name, we too can have great expectations—expectations too great and irrational even for anyone to make sense of. It all occurs in the unreconciled mind and stems from a vagrant heart that’s inherently displeased with its lot in life, no matter the bendings toward it. In this state we could never be happy.

We know the people we’ve had great problems with. Almighty conflicts have brewed upon the very foundation of great expectations—too great to ever be achieved; consistently, satisfactorily; let alone with accorded thanks.

Creating happiness personally and in our relationships is easy once our expectations are clear and reasonable. Enter the compromise. All for one; one for all.

Notwithstanding all the above, we can afford to have great expectations to the positive. We can strive to be happy, content, at peace—especially in the context of our interactions. Broad expectations like this are okay provided they don’t drive us headlong into getting there at all costs. It’s okay to have an expectation of relational harmony to call up as a standard to live to.

When we have these sorts of broad expectations and we don’t get the results we’re after, we are forced to reflect: ‘How can I help make this situation better, so we can both enjoy our relationship more?’ Doing to others as we’d have them do to us—the Golden Rule—is a foundational accompaniment to having the right expectations. Loving others is a habit we must nurture.

The world operates on expectations. Expectations must be balanced and reasonable for productivity to occur. If they’re not, they’ll cause us a world of heartache, conflict, mistrust and mayhem.

Where perhaps are your expectations misaligned, unrealistic, inappropriate or otherwise set too high? i.e. personally... with others... with life in general? You and I are the only ones who can make us and others (who want to be) happy in this regard. It starts with you and me.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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