Expectations

HopeI’ve been working on the problem of having expectations for a long time – especially unrealistic expectations – but, I’m still not quite where I want to be. Expectations of myself, of the outcomes of situations, of other people, and expectations that others have of me. Expectations I have had of myself have led me down some dark pathways of romantic idealism, failed perfectionism (alas, all perfectionism fails), self-criticism and doubt. Expectations regarding the outcome of situations have often led to disappointment and unhappiness. Expectations of people have led to feelings of betrayal, disillusionment and sadness. I’ve made a lot of progress on everything except my expectations of other people – maybe the answer is to have very low expectations!.

I just finished a book by author, lecturer, and radio host Dennis Prager titled “Happiness is a Serious Problem”. He devotes an entire chapter to expectations so, I guess I’m not the only person who wrestles with this issue. He states that “in general, expectations lead to unhappiness” and I tend to agree. He defines expectations as “taking for granted that something will happen or regarding something as virtually inevitable”, therefore, with rare exceptions, where we do not have complete control we should not have expectations. And in just how many situations in your life do you have complete control? I don’t know about you, but I realized some time ago that the only things I have any control over are my thoughts and actions – and even that can be a huge challenge at times!

Still, as logical as all that sounds … does it mean we can never have any expectations of other people and our relationships with them? When we marry someone and take vows with them before God, should we not expect them to keep those vows? Should close friends not expect honesty, trustworthiness and loyalty? It is in the area of close relationships that I have the most difficulty in letting go of expectations. I’m not talking about forgiving honest mistakes or tolerating human flaws because I know that no one is perfect, certainly not me, and I always hope (or do I expect?) to receive forgiveness and tolerance from those who are closest to me. We all disappoint each other at times without meaning to, but I’m thinking of much more serious injuries like lying, cheating, betrayal, and other forms of disloyalty. Loyalty and honesty are very important to me. That is what you can expect from me if I’m a friend of yours and it is what I expect in return from you. Needless to say, I’ve had some crushing disappointments but, was it because I expected a certain type of behavior or was it because I trusted someone? Where is the line between trusting and expecting in relationships? Doesn’t a person’s character invite you to expect a certain type of behavior from them?

Another long-held expectation I had was regarding my relationship with my son. I always thought that once he was an adult he would honor and respect me. I didn’t invent this idea – remember the fifth commandment “Honor your father and your mother”? – and yet, this concept seems to be foreign to him. Perhaps I bear some responsibility for not instilling it in him at an early age but, whatever the reason, I recently had to re-evaluate my thinking and begin to let go of my expectation that someday we would have a warm, comfortable and friendly adult relationship. I would love to be able to just enjoy relaxed conversations with him without feeling like I’m walking blindfolded through a mine field. Recent events have forced me to admit that this may never happen and I need to stop waiting for something of which he may not be emotionally capable. I think I need to learn the difference between hope and expectation.

If you align expectations with reality, you will never be disappointed. ~Terrell Owens

Liberty has Great Expectations!

Liberty has Great Expectations!

I fully expect that you will check out my artwork and books at Lynda Linke Productions

Advertisements

Thoughts about friendship

How are things on your endI’m not a fan of social media. I have Facebook and Twitter accounts but rarely use them. I can understand why they are a popular way for people to keep in touch but they just don’t appeal to me. On the other hand, I’ve never had a problem keeping in touch with long distance friends – before the days of email I wrote letters to my long distance friends. My friends know I’m not much of a telephone person but those who live far away can count on a weekly email, an occasional call and one of my original greeting cards on all the special occasions in their lives. Those who live nearby know we’ll see each other regularly for lunches, dinners, movies, etc. All my friends, both near and far know they can call upon me when they need a shoulder to cry on or when they want to share some happy news.

Over the years many friends have come into and out of my life. Some friends stayed for a short time and drifted away, a couple of friendships ended in anger. Friendships that were formed around a common experience, like a job or a neighborhood, usually ended when one of us left the job or moved away. Sometimes I felt sad when a friend didn’t keep in touch but, let’s face it, long distance friendships are difficult to sustain over time and take effort from both parties. I don’t worry about things like that anymore because I have lived enough years to recognize an ebb and flow to friendships and I understand now that not everyone who comes into your life is meant to stay forever.

People change as they get older and one important change I experienced is that I learned to be comfortable doing things alone. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the company of my friends; it simply means I found that doing things alone can be just as enjoyable, but in a different way. I think it also led me to become more selective about who I call a “friend”. Friend is an overused and misused word. When I was younger I was too dependent on the company and approval of others – to the point that I tolerated a lot of selfish, insensitive behavior just to keep a so-called “friend” in my life (or a relationship with a man, but that’s another blog post!). When I finally reached emotional maturity (yes, I admit I was a late bloomer) I realized that when you respect yourself and you’re not emotionally needy its much easier to be selective about the company you keep. This is another one of those lessons I wish I had learned at a much younger age but, I’m glad I finally did.

These days I have a small number of very nice friends, whose company I enjoy, and one special friend with whom I share an especially close bond. She is someone who I know will always be in my life. I don’t have sisters but, from what I have observed, my best friend and I are closer than many sisters. Although I haven’t been lucky in love, I consider myself blessed to have found a kindred spirit so many years ago and, for me, that is a rare thing. It’s been said that if you have only one friend that you can trust completely you are fortunate. I have a friend who I not only trust completely but, who understands me and loves me for the flawed human being I am. She doesn’t judge me and I don’t have to filter my thoughts when I talk to her. She even gets my sense of humor – many don’t! Unfortunately, she lives a thousand miles away – this is especially difficult because we used to see each other almost every day and shared the smallest details of our lives. In the meantime, it’s emails, phone calls and visits whenever we can work them out.

Recently my friend was at her timeshare in Cocoa Beach and I found a rental nearby so I could take my four-legged best friend with me (no doggies allowed at the timeshare) while I spent time with my human best friend. It was so great to be able to have a couple of days together on the beach just talking, laughing and crying as we caught up with each other’s lives. She’s dealing with some difficult situations so my counseling hat got a workout. We found a dog-friendly place to eat dinner so Liberty could join us while we continued our conversation – my friend loves Liberty almost as much as I do. I hope her plans and dreams of moving back to Florida come true – for her sake as well as my own!

Friendship is the mutual love of people who wish each other well.  ~Aristotle

Me and my four-legged best friend

Me and my four-legged best friend

See more of my artwork and books at Lynda Linke Productions