I think we all have a lot of expectations about so many things - many of them unsaid - yet we still have them.
We have expectations about how people should behave, our partners, children, family, friends and colleagues. We have expectations about how society should run, how governments should operate, police, health, education, businesses, media, religion - in fact, most of us are full of expectations.
Now, I know what you're thinking - what is wrong with that?
The thing is when you think about expectations, what is the likely outcome of having an expectation? You see when we have an expectation, there are only ever two outcomes:
1. Disappointment - the person, organisation, event, experience has not lived up to our expectation and we feel let down.
2. Nothing - if the person, organisation, event, experience did live up to our expectation then we don't feel this over whelming sense of delight, this rush of gratitude, this feeling of joy, we have very little emotional response as we were expecting that result anyway.
So, when we look at expectation like that, it is a bit of a lose-lose scenario - it certainly won't fill us full of feel-good hormones.
The point is if we go through life full of expectations, we are likely to be experiencing a lot of disappointment, and who wants that?
Now, if we decided to move away from expectations and towards agreement, that would all change. Agreements are magical, they require us to choose and agree a result that both us and the other party are happy with. Here's an example:
Instead of expecting your partner to do his (or her) fair share of tidying up around the home, feeling totally disappointed when they fail to do it again and again, resentment breeds and it could even lead to martyrdom. What about sitting down and coming to an agreement that suits you both, so both of you know what is required to satisfy the agreement? If the tidying-up doesn't get done, then you sit down again and ask why they haven't managed to keep to the agreement, what went wrong and what can be done to ensure that the agreement can be kept. This is far more powerful than sulking, moaning and feeling resentful because that person hasn't met your expectations.
Imagine how much less stressful this would be if we used this with our teenagers...!
This is incredibly important in the work environment too: expecting employees to achieve certain things or behave in specific ways with no agreements in place is simply not going to work for either party. However, having an agreement in place means that when something goes wrong, instead of the person feeling like you are attacking them or criticising them, you are simply asking them what happened that meant the agreement couldn't be fulfilled and what needs to be done to make sure the agreement is fulfilled next time.
Agreements mean that everyone knows what is required from them - it is clear, spelt out and agreed ahead of time. Expectations are often thoughts in our heads that we haven't even expressed and that no one has agreed to and that seems a little unfair to me.
Think about how we treat ourselves? We are usually so full of expectations about how we should look; what we should be doing to be a great parent, friend, partner, daughter; how successful we should be; what we should eat; what exercise we expect ourselves to do - this list is endless. We have so many expectations for ourselves - no wonder we feel such disappointment in US, which of course leads to low self-esteem, even anxiety and depression. Not a great place to be, so why not be kinder to YOU, make agreements with yourself that you know you can achieve and watch your happiness soar.
Subtle difference..... but it will change the way you feel.
Let's try bringing a little more clarity into our lives and have more achievable agreements with others and ourselves and fewer expectations 🙂