Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snow expectations...letting go of unrealistic expectations

Expectations are a funny thing.  I live in a suburb of Philadelphia. Yesterday, meteorologists and media were going crazy about the "Blizzard of 2015".  They declared states of emergency in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  FORTUNATELY, the storm missed us! However, there were a lot of unhappy people.  My friends on Facebook were posting "How can my daycare be closed?!" Another person said, "Meteorologists know nothing..my kids are so disappointed!" and it went on and on.

There are 2 things that are going through my head about this...

First...how often in life are we disappointed because our expectations aren't being met?  I'm not someone that says that you shouldn't have expectations (because I believe expectations are a good thing...a great thing actually)
While high expectations are a good thing, we need to remember that shit happens and things don't always go as planned.  Having unrealistic expectations is going to cause you stress, heartache, and disappointment.  When we put our fate in the hands of meteorologists, for example, we may be disappointed.  How often do you put your fate in other people's hands?  How can you become more resilient? Are your expectations realistic?  Do we expect meteorologists to give us an accurate weather forecast because that's their job?  Yes, but until we try to figure out weather patterns on our own, who are we to judge how well they can predict weather patterns successfully?  If you don't like what they have to say, then don't watch the weather! Otherwise, be happy that they at least give us an idea of what to expect.

The second thing that goes through my mind about this topic is resiliency...I believe that the most successful people are the most resilient.  These people DO have expectations (they use contracts and hold people accountable) but when things don't go exactly as planned (such as mother nature) they aren't stressed out or heart broken about it. They have a sense of humor and roll with the punches. Last year, my kids school district did a hilarious YouTube video about the crazy winter we were having.  I thought this was a brilliant way to make light of a frustrating situation.  Not only is humor a great way to cope with these frustrations but gratitude will allow you to be more resilient and realistic about your expectations.  For instance, instead of being mad that your flight was cancelled, why not be happy that you have a day off? Why not be happy the last year the meteorologists were right 90% of the time getting you where you needed to go safely.  Isn't technology great? Can't we be happy that people care enough about our safety to cancel things that may be dangerous for ourselves or our children?

Finally, how often are we transferring our OWN frustrations onto other people?  If we got hammered with snow, I have a feeling that many of the above people would still be mad...saying things like "How am I supposed to get work done with kids?" or "I'm so tired of this WINTER! When will it be over?"  Maybe the truth is that they are frustrated with their own lives and it's easy to take it out on someone else?

When I find myself extremely frustrated it's often about my own frustrations and little about the other person.  I remember when I was in therapy after my divorce I was telling my therapist how mad I was at my ex husband and she said, "Are you mad at HIM or are you really mad that you're a single mom and life wasn't supposed to be like this?" That was a huge moment for me.  A real AHA moment.  I wonder if any of you can identify with this?  Sometimes it's easier for us to be mad at someone else than it is about a certain situation or maybe even ourselves?

How do you feel about expectations?  I would love to hear in the comments below!

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