© 2015 Kebba Buckley Button, MS, OM. World Rights Reserved.
Did you ever think one thing was happening, and a totally different thing turned out to be happening? Of course! We expect things, based on patterns we see in people’s behaviors, ourselves, and the physical world. We develop expectations of how people and things will be. And sometimes we get surprises.
Driving in traffic, we see the power of expectations. 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. However, when our positive expectations are violated, we can be jolted, shocked, and stressed.
A client tells of driving up to a T-intersection, going through on the green light, and nearly getting killed! 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 expecting 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 some time. Driving became stressful for her. Her overall positive expectations of good traffic controls were replaced by conditional expectations that she might not be safe at all.
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. Now this client has changed her overall negative expectations of mortgage-company correspondence to allow for occasional pleasant communications.
Expect nothing and appreciate everything.
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 toward the sound and struggled to the top of a wall, expecting to see a dog in dire need of help. Thoughts of what emergency line 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. He went home chuckling.
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 know? There may be giant tortoises just out of view. And you may get a good laugh.
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- Kebba Buckley Button is a stress management expert. She also has a natural healing practice and is an ordained minister. 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 ). Her newest book is Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine, available through her office. Just email SacredMeditation@kebba.com.
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