Recently someone told me I “set the bar high”, it was not the first time I have had those words directed towards me. I had taken that statement as a compliment, assuming others look at me as someone with prestige. Now, I am starting to hear these words a bit differently. Reason being, I am tired of being let down. It is not others, or my own experiences letting me down, it is the habit of letting my expectations get out of control.
Each year I choose a mantra to live by. Last year I chose, “Expect Less, Appreciate More”. (In fact, these words are the wallpaper on my iPhone as a daily reminder). It has been really hard to keep myself in check. As far back as early childhood, I can remember having ideas in my head of what experiences would or should be like. From there I developed a lot of expectations of myself, and as I got older I (unfairly) developed expectations of others. I believe some expectations have benefitted me, however overall and on a daily basis my expectations have hurt me more than helped me. I continue to find myself disappointed in reality versus my expectations. Especially when it comes to my expectations of experiences and of others.
I’ve found myself having high expectations of things such as a perfect vacation, or the perfect date night, only to be let down. (Even writing those words makes me feel selfish, for the fact I can afford to travel and I have someone that likes to take me on dates). My expectations of others have gotten me into even more turmoil. I have gone out of my way to do things for others, expecting something back, only to be baffled when nothing was received. I have had countless fights with, and let downs by my husband because he did not read my mind meet my expectations. Expecting specific behaviors of him, and even worse, gifts from him, have created unfortunate memories in what should be fond.
Appreciation is helping me turn my expectations around. Having expectations has not gone away, but are looked upon in another way. If I find myself having expectations of an experience, I choose to see them as dreams. Dreams where I can appreciate the opportunity and remind myself to truly savor the moments ahead. When it comes to expecting things from others, I have learned if I choose to do something for another it should be because it makes me feel good and I want to do it, not because I expect something in return (even if it is just a sign of gratitude). Not having expectations of what my husband should do for me, makes a thing like an occasional bouquet brought home much more special and romantic. I am more appreciative of our time together and more aware of the ways he shows love. Finally, when it comes to myself, having fewer expectations of where I should be or how I should be doing things has allowed me to slow down, gain patience and see the big picture.
This is a BIG work in progress. I guarantee my husband will read this and think I have a lot of work to do (which is true!). Things rarely ever turn out the way you expect them, so try to limit expectations (or, at least, look at them differently), and appreciate as much as you can. It takes time, be easy on yourself.
In the meantime here are a few articles related to managing expectations that helped me put things in perspective:
- Managing Your Expectations Is The Key To Happiness (Elite Daily)
- What You Appreciate, Appreciates (Deepak Chopra)
- What To Do When You Are Feeling Disappointed In Your Relationship (The Change Blog)
- Give More, Expect Less (Kingpin Lifestyle)
- How To Manage Your Expectations (Oprah)