I have a lot of expectations.

I didn’t think that was true, but when I stopped and thought about it, I realized that almost all my assumptions and decisions are based on a set of expectations.

I expect hot water when I turn on the shower.

I expect the coffee maker to work.

Rephrase it, and it’s more like “I assume I will have hot water. I assume the coffee maker will work. I expect to have coffee in the morning.”

I “assume things” based on past experiences. I think we all do (maybe I am assuming here, too.)

When our expectations aren’t met, you get to choose from a long buffet of emotional reactions that, hopefully, lead to a constructive plan of action. Or not. We’ve all been the witness to some spectacular toddler meltdowns over small issues. Small to us, not to the toddler, obviously. Watching such a meltdown can cause a visceral reaction for any spectator.

Anyway, I normally handle things pretty evenly, and I say this, based on the assumption that I have: A) gotten enough sleep regularly, B) eaten normally i.e., regular meals of real food and C) am maintaining some kind of exercise for my body and relaxation for my mind.Shout out to All About Healthy Choices

Losing out on any of those components will throw off my perspective and cause me to mentally make a mountain out of a molehill. And while my meltdowns are not as spectacular as a two-year old’s , they are still damaging to me because I am internalizing a wicked dialogue accompanied by strong emotions. So, I might as well be drinking acid.expections

Case in point: My sister is coming home

My sister lives 400 miles away, and visits twice a year, for approximately 36 hours. This has gone on for several years, encompassing the time my dad was ill and dying. She has traveled world-wide, both alone and with her family, and is not tied down by a job or her teenage sons.

I told her mom really needed more company, and that I was overwhelmed with the many post-hospital appointments that I had to miss work for. Awwww….she felt bad she couldn’t be here to help. I received two Mala bracelets blessed by the Buddhist monastery, and a renewal of the Health and Happiness Candle she lit for me.

Were my expectations met: Yes, my sister lived down to my expectations.

Is this a passive-aggressive post: Yes, I am not above that, Sorry.

Am I having a wicked internal dialogue and choking on my acid reflux: No, because I have done A, B and C above.

Now my buffet of choices is simple: do I carve time out of my day to see my sister, knowing I am making a choice to do so, and to not be an asshole to her? Or do I not worry about this choice because no one else is.

best choiceThe smartest thing someone told me recently was, it was not my responsibility to fix every thing for everyone. So we’ll see. I am not stressing about it.

 

 

 

13 thoughts on “Managing Expectations

  1. True. And, I also believe that the only person you can control is yourself. As long as you do what you feel is right, then that is all you can do. Everyone else makes their own choices and have to live with their own regrets.

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      1. I do understand that it is harder to let things go when it affects your mom (or dad). I tend to do the same thing, but am learning to do the best I can, encourage better behavior from others, but realize that, ultimately, it is their choice and I can’t do anything about that.

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  2. Caregiver stress is being recognized (finally!) as its own unique kind of stress; I can’t recommend strongly enough hunting up some resources on it in particular, because they speak to it so much more specifically. I took care of my birth father for about a year after he had heart surgery; I know it can be brutal with no other support from family around. I spent that year being told by pretty much everyone in the family that I was doing it all wrong (an opinion which his doctors firmly disagreed with), but amazingly no one had time to come and do the much better job they could all have done. Focusing on the tasks at hand and carving out some decompression time for yourself, even if it has to be done by brute force, is really all you can do.

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    1. Thanks Maia! This has taught me the value of being present, right here, right now. And of letting things go. Maybe the biggest is I have stopped worrying about what either sib thinks of me.

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      1. It took me a while to just say to hell with what anyone else thought as long as the doctors said I was was doing right. I went to the extreme of it once I did; hopefully you don’t have to!

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  3. First, thank you for the honorable mention. Glad to see you value your health and recognize the factors that influence overall well being.

    It is probably safe to guess that your sister will remain true to her reality of a world that functions and revolves around her needs. With these expectations it may be wiser to find ANY ground of commonality that elicits a positive emotional reaction on your behalf. Her time with you is relatively short. Harboring resentment (which sounds absolutely justifiable) only causes self damage in the long run. Find your own time each day during her stay to vent any negativity and replace it with life inspiring vibrations. The time will pass more quickly with less distress and leave you feeling more in control of your emotions and your life.

    If this advice doesn’t inspire you, feel free to follow my method of handling extended family encounters. A little duck tape and Velcro goes a long way to PREVENTING unwanted behavior! (LOL.) As a doctor I stress that prevention is the key to good health. 😀

    Turn to your heart and do what is necessary to maintain BALANCE through the experience.

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    1. LOLOL. Yes, I love the duct tape idea, but your other suggestion is where I am going. It does no one any good for me to harbor resentment for exactly as you say, it hurts me and it’s not changing a thing. But you know, this is life – the nitty gritty of relationships – whether it’s my family or people’s friends – I think these situations arise in a variety of flavors. Emotions tend to call us into action, high emotions more so, and it’s a skill to sit with the emotion and figure out a course of action. I am working on the skill, but frankly, having the right set of tools through healthier living, makes it a lot easier.

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  4. I do feel for you over this having experienced very similar circumstances myself. There is always a lot of advice and criticism from others but little in the way of actual practical help.

    When I was looking after my much loved elderly relative full time I asked myself how I would feel if said family members were actually in charge of them and the answer was ‘not very soothed’. I would have worried their attitude would slip over into their care giving skills…or lack of them. As it was on the very rare occasions my relative spent time with them she was miserable there and glad to be back home afterwards.

    So it is hard to be left holding the reins but have peace in that you are doing the right thing, you know your mum is safe and cared for and you are spending quality time with someone you love and who loves you.

    Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cross with your sister though…who wouldn’t be?!

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    1. You are right on. I would worry about her care, if I wasn’t there, although she is in a very loving assisted living housing. And it is better to have the peace of mind for doing the “right thing” even though I cross my fingers that I can keep my job. They have been so understanding! Still, you know how that goes… If I were 20 years younger, I would be doing this without taking time to exercise or eat right. OK, honestly, I would still be smoking a pack a day, eating aspiring and grabbing junk food. So – with age does come a bit of wisdom for what it takes to keep on going.

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  5. I am like you. I take so many responsibilities on myself and then I feel like why can’t my sister or brother take it instead and let me behave freely sometimes? but I realized as I grew that they do what they do best and they are not afraid to or not shying away from responsibilities either… My being like this helps them to be who they are & when I tried I found out that I could be doing all the things I want to do and still live up to what I expect from myself, if I gave myself some breathers… Life is full and exciting, if only we stopped expecting tons from ourselves as well… What you say?

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    1. I say, You are One Smart Cookie! and I like your advice, Thank you for the reminder to take breathers. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the “must do’s” and forget to have some time for “want to do’s.”

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