Have you ever looked forward to something only to find that when it happened it wasn't like you expected? In your mind it was going to be one way - fantastic, amazing, beautiful - and then it wasn't.
Or it could be something similar to what I experienced last week in which I was looking forward to a write-up about the retreats I run in Southern Spain in a major women's magazine and although the article was a great piece about the woman's retreat and how it had been a life changing experience for her, it was not written in a way I thought it would be - think beautiful pictures and effusive praise! She had written such a great testimonial and I expected it to be in a similar vein. I was disappointed with the article but in fact when a colleague read it she thought it was wonderful and illustrated the huge personal growth she had had!
So I took some time out and contemplated why I felt the disappointment I did. In my contemplation I realised I was suffering some a severe case of the 'expectations'. Even though something good had happened I had expected something else and so could not see the good - only the lack of fulfillment of my expectation. This was the ah-ha moment. The realisation that I was fighting with reality and in those kind of fights reality always wins out!
So what can we learn from this situation. Firstly we can see that if we have a clear expectation in relation to what someone else is doing we need to check and see that we are truly on the same page. I've always loved the break down of the word assume - making an ASS of U and ME. Check your assumptions around your expectations.
However, there is a greater lesson in this situation and that is how you deal with crushed expectation. When you get disappointed, look inside yourself for answers - not outside of yourself for solutions. My initial reaction was to want her to do something to 'make up for' the disappointment. Problem with that is that you are then are relying on someone else for your happiness and as I've said many times - happiness is an inside job. No one outside of yourself can make you happy.
So instead just stop and question why you feel you are suffering a case of failed expectations and ask yourself - what is my part in this? In my situation last week I had made assumptions, pure and simple. And I learnt that in a similar situation in the future I will be clearer about what I expect and check and make sure it is ok.
We all go through life with expectations - it's normal and so it is not about not expecting things - but rather getting clearer on what we expect and communicating that well. And handling the dashed expectations in a empowered way, taking responsibility for our part in it rather than getting into blame and shame. There is always something to learn. Think on that next time you are suffering from 'expectations'.
I'd love to hear from you about how you have managed your times when you have a case of 'expectations'. What have you learnt about yourself? Please do comment below and share your comments too.
A longer version of this blog is posted here