Friday, June 10, 2011


Why do we always have expectations? Expectations are when we anticipate the outcome of a given situation or of another's reaction to a given situation. Expectations can often lead to disappointment. Where do you draw the line between expecting a good result and dealing with a poor result? It is like walking a tight rope, we want to be optimistic and yet not be disappointed if it does not happen.

I can't begin to tell you how many times I have been surprised by other's reactions because I was expecting them to do something different from what they actually did do. My sister, Rhonda, and I have discussed this many times, she feels the best way is to try not to have a lot of expectations, therefore avoiding disappointment. Her philosophy sounds good in theory but is much harder to implement in actual practice.

Of course we cannot predict how others may react but more importantly, we cannot predict how we, ourselves will react in a lot of situations. I always try to be optimistic, anticipate a good outcome and yet I find myself disappointed to varying degrees in a lot of events in my life, when the expectation did not match the actual anticipated outcome. We have all heard the expression, "well I didn't expect that."

It has been more difficult for me to deal with differing expectations when it comes to other people, because of unpredictability, than with myself. So many times we place expectations on others when they have no idea we have done so. How can you expect someone else to react in a given way, when they have no idea what you are thinking? Conversely, others anticipate that you may react in a certain way, when you have no idea of their expectation or the basis of their expectation, and then they are surprised when your reaction or action does not match their expectation.

Where does all of this lead? It depends on the individual and the situation. Something I find myself doing all the time is I base my expectations of others, on what I would do or how I would react in the same circumstance, this is an unfair position to place on others and to place on yourself.

My dear friend, Marguerite, has a favorite expression that may be helpful, she advises to be "cautiously optimistic." Her expression almost seems like an oxymoron to me. To be optimistic means looking for the best possible outcome, but if you put the word cautiously in front of optimistic, than are you really being optimistic? Be that as it may, placing conditions on your expectations can soften the blow if the outcome is vastly different in a negative way, than you had anticipated.

Through my leg loss experience, I have had people react in lots of different ways. Some reactions were what I had anticipated they would be, others not so much. The various degrees of empathy I have received as a result of my leg loss have ranged from, people who I know will always be here for me no matter what, to others who can't or won't deal with my difficult leg loss and it's implications in any way, sometimes resulting in the loss of our friendship.

Not having expectations of people and situations would probably be the healthiest approach to take; I don't think lowering your expectations of a given outcome is the answer because lowering your expectations may mean lowering your standards.

Realizing others cannot read your mind and when you have an expectation, making sure the other person know where you are coming from, should help in accurating predicting a given outcome.

Finally, as always, focussing on those positive expectations that have come to fruition is certainly helpful in achieving happiness and avoiding disappointment. Our having expectations of others or having expectations of the results of situations is a part of human nature. Getting control of expectations and being aware of the fact, you cannot control people and situations, will allow you to celebrate those positive expectations that did occur and disgard those that didn't, to a greater or lesser degree.

Are you confused? Me too. What were you expecting?

1 comment:

  1. HI Glen.. I am getting alot pf benefit from reading your blog. I am a woman in my 50's and recently had cosmetic surgery that left deformities and scars on my legs and butt..and also a loss of feeling and range of motion. I know this may sound trival.... and honestly I feel ashamed that this matters so much to me.... but I have been feeling so depressed and suicidal for over two months now... I just can't seem to shake the feeling of loss and grief. I admire you for your strength... is there anything you can share with me that might inspire that courage in me. Well I will keep reading your blog.. as I enjoy your writing... your honesty and strength of character. ~ Dede


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