I tend to have expectations that are much too high for other people (and, heck, even for myself), and all they ever lead to is a whole lot of disappointment.
But the truth is, just telling myself to lower my expectations doesn't work either, because let's face it: if you expect something, you may be setting yourself up for failure.
So lately, I've been trying a new approach introduced to me by my therapist that I think is pretty darn smart. Maybe it will work for you too.
Of course, my column is no replacement for actual therapy, but if you're in need of a little change in your point of view, you might just like what she had to say. I certainly did.
When you impose your own often unrealistic expectations on someone else, no matter how low or basic they might be, you're not only setting yourself up for disappointment -- you're also giving the other person nowhere to go but down.
Sure, they could exceed your expectations, but that's rare. That's not betting on the house. And when it comes to my own feelings, I want as sure of a bet as possible.
So what she suggested was accepting rather than expecting.
Yes, it's just that simple.
Ha. Hahahaha. Okay, not really, but wow, it really does work.
When you go into a situation with the attitude of acceptance, you can't really be disappointed, which always, at least for me anyway, leads to frustration, annoyance, even hurt.
Instead, you allow the other person (or yourself) to be a human. You give them a clean slate. You force yourself to live in the now rather than your fantasy land, which is a total impossibility.
And because the "now" hasn't happened yet, you give yourself permission to enjoy it for what it is.
Just last week I tried this with my mom when I asked her to help me out with my kids. Instead of going in with the expectation that she could take them exactly when I needed her to, I erased that from my mind and decided that whatever she could do, I would accept.
Turns out, she couldn't do everything I asked for, but she could do part of it. And rather than being frustrated, I was actually pretty thankful.
Look, it takes work. A lot of work. But if you're like me and always seem to get your feelings hurt, try this technique. You might find that you're happier. And your relationships are better.
What do you do when you're disappointed?
Image via HoriaVarlan/Flickr