The danger of expectations


[vimeo id="79782756"] We all know what it’s like when things turn out differently than we expected. We become frustrated when we haven’t reached a certain point in our career by the time we’re 30. We get angry when people don’t meet our expectations. We force relationships because we expect to be in a relationship headed for marriage by the time we reach our junior year of college.

The danger of expectations

The dangerous thing about expectations is that they almost always set us up for disappointment. When we expect things to go a certain way and they don’t, we get frustrated. We question ourselves and others. We let all kinds of harmful things like anger and bitterness creep into our lives. Over time, our expectations can ruin our self-esteem, relationships with other people and God, and our desire to discover our divine design.

The problem with most expectations

The reason most expectations leave us frustrated or disappointed is because they’re unrealistic or unjustified. We hear stories of people who make a million dollars by the time they're 25 and we beat ourselves up because we’re nowhere close to that. That’s unrealistic. We get frustrated with our co-worker or spouse because he or she doesn’t do the things we want them to do or respond to the things we say the way we want them to respond. We wonder why they’re so difficult to deal with. If we stopped to think about it, that’s completely unjustified.

How to avoid the danger of expectations

The best way to avoid the danger of expectations is to turn our expectations and assumptions into possibilities. By all means, set goals. Dream BIG. But don’t let the possibilities that excite you turn into unrealistic expectations that put an added weight on your shoulders.

When it comes to avoiding the expectations we have for other people, Donald Miller has a great quote:

“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.”

We shouldn’t expect people to be perfect when we’re not even perfect. Open communication is the best way to navigate the expectation minefield, but we usually project and assume more than we communicate. When we stop expecting perfection and clearly define expectations, we can avoid the danger of unrealistic expectations that destroy relationships.

What are some unrealistic or unjustified expectations you’ve had in the past? What helped you overcome them?