Unforgiving Taskmasters

How is it that expectations are so easy to come by and so difficult to live up to?
How is it that just as quickly as we are frustrated by them we can dish them out?
How is it that they become such cruel and unforgiving taskmasters?

The belief that something will happen or that something should. From actions to achievements, we all have them, and so much of our lives and decisions are governed by them.

I expect ___, therefore I ___.
I expect my husband will be home at 6, therefore I will begin making supper at 5:30.
I expect my upcoming test to be easy, therefore I will go to the party instead of studying.
I expect so-and-so will ask me out to dinner Friday night, therefore I will not plan to go shopping with my girlfriend that evening.

Expectations are inevitable because we can’t see into the future. So in order to live our lives, we must plan ahead without knowing what really is to come - enter expectations. That’s all fine and good until we become slaves to the expectations that are based solely on hypothetical maybes, possibly coulds, and just-in-cases. And when they fall through, when those expectations are shattered, our world and our identities often shatter right along with them.  

So knowing that expectations are born out of the unknown of the future, it does’t take much for us to realize they can’t be trusted. But oh-so-quickly we subject others to the same frustration. Well I just thought you would ___. Again, understandable - I didn’t know exactly how you would act or perform or respond, so I took a guess. But how dare I take my guess-at-best and hold you to it? How dare I expect of you something you had no idea I was hoping for? How dare I crush your spirit because you weren’t quite what I expected you to be?

Expectations quickly become cruel slavedrivers, and the most ruthless aren’t the real ones but the perceived. 

Such a heavy burdensome dilemma seems to have a simple little solution: honesty. Primarily honesty with ourselves. No, she probably doesn’t think I’m doing this wrong, it’s probably just my imagination. But even if she does think it, I’m convinced it’s actually not wrong, so I’ll lift my chin and keep on. Just as important is honesty about our expectations of others. No, I never told him I was expecting this or that, so I have no reason to be frustrated when it doesn’t happen.

I know - easier said than done. :) I’ll be the first to sign up for the How to Squelch Expectations of Ourselves and Others class and the last to teach it.

But I do think I’ll take a lesson from my shattered expectations and my paper-thin perceptions and choose a little honesty instead.