E is for Expectations

The long awaited next chapter in the Dictionary of Me, I’ll be frank and say I found it hard to come up with something for the letter E!

E is for Expectations

If I’ve learned one thing in my 30 years on this planet, it’s that very rarely do things play out as you expect them to. And coupled with that, I’ve learned that if I can diminish or limit or control my expectations of matters in which I have little to no control, then it’s a lot easier to remain positive and upbeat with life in general.

Another way of saying this is, life will continue to throw shit at you and how you deal with it defines and shapes the person you become.

I’m not a psychiatrist by any means, nor a trained anthropologist, but this is just one of those “laws of life” that I’ve observed over the years.

My expectations of myself are very high. I don’t have a problem with this though, because I have control of the outcome. I think this trait in me is why I have achieved a lot in my career, why I continually challenge myself to do new things, to grow as a person and to work on my flaws.

I am the first to admit that one of those flaws is that I struggle to limit my expectations of others. I like to be an optimist, and I think I can confuse optimism with high expectations sometimes. I think I can usually see the best in people, or see their potential, which often means I place expectations on them which are often higher than what they expect of themselves, which is always a recipe for disappointment (for me, that is!)

In no other area is this more profound than as a partner to Adam and as a parent to my son.

The word “expectations” is used regularly in my relationship when trying to diagnose the root cause of some of our more recurring issues. Thankfully it’s not one sided unrealistic expectations, so we’ve learned a lot from each other in diminishing this impact on our relationship.

It does freak me out as a parent though, because the last thing in the world I want is to make my son feel inadequate, or that he doesn’t have my approval.  In my view, this is one of the most damaging forms of emotional abuse (harsh words, but necessary to demonstrate the weight I place on this) that a parent can deliver to a child. Promoting a spirit of “wanting to excel and achieve” in a child is very different to setting them unrealistic benchmarks that make them feel like a failure when they don’t meet them. This is by far the biggest motivation I have for learning to modify and limit my expectations of others.

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