So I apologize if you read something similar to this before over on my Facebook page, Our Life Well Lived – Leanne Hintz (www.facebook.com/leannehintzlifewelllived) … go check it out and give it a “Like” if you haven’t already … but I feel this is worth sharing once again. This post is about EXPECTATIONS.
Go ahead and think about a few of yours … for your spouse, for your kids, for your friends, for your colleagues, and so on. What do you EXPECT from them? How do you feel when your EXPECTATIONS go unmet? I can bet for certain that you end up ticked off or maybe a little irritated or frustrated … disappointed perhaps or maybe even discouraged … a whole myriad of sucky feelings. Of course, I speak from experience … many times my expectations of my husband went unmet (he was completely unaware of them, by the way). My kids disappoint me at times because they did not meet my expectations (again, they were likely unaware of them). And undoubtedly, I would have been fed up with my students, because they too did not meet my expectations (even though they should have been aware of them … completing and handing in an assignment on time, for example).
In recent times, I’ve come to learn though that “EXPECTATION is the root of all heartache” (William Shakespeare). I’ve known this for awhile, but didn’t really know what to do with it. I knew I was upset when I EXPECTED my husband to be home by 5:45, but it ended up being closer to six. I knew I was a little discouraged when I EXPECTED (or HOPED) my mom would stop by after school lunch, but she didn’t. And I was a little disappointed when I EXPECTED a full body massage at my last appointment, but only received an upper body rub down.
Trying to sort it all out, I wrote this note to Jill Ethier (my sister’s witch doctor and energetic ninja) who I had been following on FB for awhile:
Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out this whole “expectations” thing … I get how they are a source of misery, but I can’t quite imagine a life without them … as a teacher, for example, I have expectations for my students (they need to work quietly, speak respectfully, complete their work to the best of their abilities and on time) … as a mom, I have expectations for my children and how they conduct themselves, how they dress, how they complete their chores, etc. … then, when it comes to my relationship, I feel like I should be able to expect courtesy (call if he’s running late, for example), kindness (when disciplining the children), and/or being considerate (by picking up after himself perhaps) … help!!!
She responded, saying …
You should expect all of those things, but you need to make them into AGREEMENTS, so the other parties have committed, like “I would really appreciate if you would call when you are running late. Is that something that you can commit to doing?” It’s a yes or no answer. If he says no, at least you have been clear on what you want and he is not committing to it. Then, you have to accept it. If he says yes and runs late and doesn’t call, you can point out that he had committed to doing it.
You make the same agreements with the kids, etc.
Agreements don’t mean that they will always follow through, but it means they agreed to the expectations, which then makes it an agreement, not just something you want.
So I’ve been working on this lately with my husband, in particular. I’ve completely altered my EXPECTATIONS of him. I know it kind of sounds crazy, but I’ve just decided to just have NONE (when it comes to caring for the house and the yard, at least). For me, this meant making a list of my responsibilities (I know, I know … who has time to sit and make lists of what their responsibilities are???). My responsibilities are ALL THINGS RELATED to the house, food, the yard, and the kids. I know, that’s A LOT, but now that I know without question that these are my responsibilities; there’s no wondering anymore about who’s doing what or who is going to complete a task. There’s also NO EXPECTATIONS. I don’t EXPECT Tyler to mow the lawn; it’s my job to mow the lawn. If he has time and feels compelled to mow the lawn or WE MAKE AN AGREEMENT and he says he’ll mow the lawn, then for sure he can mow the lawn. Of course, this isn’t to say that he doesn’t help out with the house, food, the yard, and the kids (he does), but I avoid all the potential resentment that comes with EXPECTATIONS, and instead, I express GRATITUDE and APPRECIATION for the help I receive.
The most beautiful part of this whole SWITCH to no expectations is our commitment (an agreement) to NOT COMMENTING about how the other person fulfills his/her responsibilities … this takes away the snarky remarks (me mostly) about what is or isn’t accomplished in a day or how a situation with the kids is managed, which are completely unnecessary and only damage our relationship.
If you need a real-life example to prove that letting go of expectations is good for you, let me tell you about a recent conversation I had with my mom. If you read, “My Dad Has Cancer” (https://ourlifewelllivedleannehintz.com/2018/05/10/my-dad-has-cancer/), you would know that my dad has cancer. Tomorrow, he will receive his final (we pray) chemo treatment. The chemotherapy has been taking its toll, and he is physically unable to do much of anything … he doesn’t have a whole lot of strength and he becomes winded very easily. As such, he is UNABLE to help my mom out in the garden this year. Because he’s UNABLE, she does not EXPECT help; she knows that anything that has to happen in the garden, she will have to do. And she’s okay with that. In fact, she seems suddenly free to “enjoy things for what they are instead of what [she thinks] they should be” (Mandy Hale). We did chuckle about the fact that my Dad never did pull weeds or pitch in as much as he could have when he wasn’t sick. But then, my mom was frequently annoyed because her EXPECTATIONS would have been UNMET.
I’m telling you, People, “Expectations are resentments waiting to happen” (Brene Brown). Let those expectations go, and start working in agreements. It will change your relationships. It will change your life.