© 2014 Kebba Buckley Button. World Rights Reserved.
Sometimes, our own expectations cause us stress. How can this be? During our lives, we observe patterns in people’s behaviors, ourselves, and the physical world. We then anticipate repetition of patterns based on our observations. We develop expectations of how people and things will be.
In a simple example, when I want to pull information from a certain book, I anticipate the book will be where I left it in my office, so I look there. My expectation is that it will be where I put it last week. I would waste a lot of time if I did not follow established patterns that create a positive expectation that I would be able to find my book in a certain area each time. Looking all around my office would be frustrating and energy-sapping. So my positive expectation of the continuity of the book’s location is a great plus for me.
Driving in traffic, we see the power of expectations. There are certain traffic rules and signals that are standard in this country. We generally expect two things: that people will drive according to the rules most of us were taught, and that the traffic control signals will operate in a synchronized way to keep traffic flowing. The positive expectation that these things are true helps to keep us calm and successful in navigating. Conversely, when our positive expectations are violated, we can be jolted, shocked, and stressed. A client of mine tells of driving up to a T-intersection, and seeing a green traffic light, she signaled and proceeded to make a left turn. Having positive expectations that she had the right-of-way and also that the traffic light was synchronized, she barely took note of a vehicle approaching the same intersection from her right. My client was reasonably assuming that the vehicle to her right would have a red light and would be stopping. However, that vehicle continued into the intersection at about 40 mph, almost killing my client. The police determined that a rare timing error had occurred, and both drivers saw green lights. My client was pleased to survive. However, she was in shock for more than a day, and she was tense while driving for weeks afterward. Her overall positive expectations of effective traffic controls were replaced by conditional expectations that she might not be safe and that she might be injured.
Expect nothing and appreciate everything.
Sometimes, we have negative expectations, also based on our experiences. A client told of receiving a letter from her mortgage company, a half month out of sequence from her normal mortgage statement date. She felt majorly stressed, looking at the envelope. Her experience was that letters from the mortgage company were either billing statements or pitches for additional services with additional fees. Routinely annoyed by such correspondence from her mortgage company, this client said her negative expectations made her really cranky as she opened the envelope. She fantasized simply feeding this piece of mail to the shredder. Then she got a good laugh, at herself and at the contents: it was a real check for a refund on certain fees! Had she acted on her negative expectations, and destroyed the piece, rather than opening it, she would literally have been throwing money away. Her expectations would have been her foes, causing her stress and loss. Now this client has edited her overall negative expectations of mortgage-company correspondence to allow for occasional pleasant communications.
Expectation is the root of all heartache.
Sometimes, our expectations lead to surprises. A friend tells of checking on a rental property and hearing an alarming sound. The sound made my friend think of a dog in distress, possibly being tortured. My friend ran to the wall nearest the sound and struggled to the top of the wall, expecting to see a dog in dire need of help. Thoughts of what emergency personnel to call raced through his mind, as he wondered how he would be able to help this dog. As the hidden yard came into view, my friend saw, not a dog, but two giant tortoises. The tortoises were, um, mating! They were together making sounds that, by my friend’s previous experience, fit with sounds of a dog expressing distress. But his new observations stretched his expectations of what certain sounds can be.
Are your expectations generally serving you? Or are you constantly surprised and uncomfortable at people and events? If you are often thinking, “no! [T]hat can’t be!”, then you may want to relax a little—both yourself and your expectations. Who knows? There may be giant tortoises just out of view. And you may get a good laugh. Now that’s UpBeat Living!
● Kebba Buckley Button is a stress management expert. She is the author of the award-winning book, Discover The Secret Energized You (http://tinyurl.com/b44v3br), plus the 2013 book, Peace Within: Your Peaceful Inner Core, Second Edition (http://tinyurl.com/mqg3uvc). She also has a natural healing practice and is an ordained minister.
● Liked this article? You can buy Kebba’s books: just click the links!
- Discover The Secret Energized You (http://tinyurl.com/b44v3br).
- Peace Within: Your Peaceful Inner Core (Second Edition) (http://tinyurl.com/mqg3uvc)
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