Discussion in 'Healthful Living / Natural Treatments' started by flutterbee, Jan 2, 2008.

  1. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    This is a word that came up a lot with a therapist I used to see several years ago. I never really 'got' where she was coming from - or going - with this and I've thought about it a lot over the years. It seemed like every time I vented about this or that, she would come back and say, 'There's the expectations again.' I remember responding specifically one time, "Well, yeah. If someone says they're going to do something, I EXPECT them to do it.'

    I got the feeling from her that we're not supposed to have expectations which, to me, seems unhealthy. Everyone has expectations: our employers, our kids, our spouses/significant others, our parents, ourselves, society.

    However, it seems to me from what I've seen on the board that a lot of us become frustrated, angry and/or resentful when certain expectations we have - that we probably don't even think about as being 'expectations' - are not met.

    So, in order to keep our own peace of mind, how do we deal with that? Do we lower expectations? (Not something I'm partial to.) Do we not have expectations? (Is that even possible?) Or is it that we don't verbalize our expectations and just take for granted that others know what they are?

    I know I've been finding myself frustrated and resentful A LOT lately over how much others (namely my kids, but my mom, too) expect me to be able to do when physically I simply cannot.
  2. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    My children expect to find milk in the fridge when they open the door and difficult child expects me to be waiting outside his school at 2:40 everyday.

    Is it too much for me to expect my kids to pitch in around the house and do their chores? I don't believe so.

    Here's the definition of expectation -

    1. the act or the state of expecting: to wait in expectation.
    2. the act or state of looking forward or anticipating.
    3. an expectant mental attitude: a high pitch of expectation.
    4. something expected; a thing looked forward to.
    5. Often, expectations. a prospect of future good or profit: to have great expectations.
    6. the degree of probability that something will occur: There is little expectation that he will come.
    7. Statistics. mathematical expectation.
    8. the state of being expected: a large sum of money in expectation.

    Perhaps our expectations would not so quickly be dashed if we used number 6 as the best definition.

    I can expect my kids to do their chores, but I also expect there is a high probability that I will have to remind them and the probabilty of some added verbage while performing said chores.

    Personally, I believe it's fine to have expectations, but I think it is much more important to be realistic. Hoping for the best but being prepared for the worst comes to mind.

    Being realistic in our expectations can also take the sting out of changing them. It doesn't always have to be a lowering, just a realistic modification.

    However, since ultimatly the only actions we are responsible for are our own, expectations in others often lead to disappointment and frustration.

  3. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    It is much easier to deal with this in terms of our kids in that we have some control (consequences, i.e, no video games until chores are done) and we also understand that they are still in the learning phase. We also learn ways to work around those issues. For example, I am tiiiiiired of asking the kids to do something only to keep reminding them and then it never getting done. So, today at 4:00, I knocked on their doors, said it was time to clean and specifically told them what I wanted them each to do. Now. Not when it's convenient for you. There was no harping to get it done and the house was clean in an hour.

    When it comes to others, though, does it become more about acceptance? And what about others unrealistic expectations of ourselves? I think that's what I'm having the hardest time with lately. difficult child thinking I can or should fix everything, easy child expecting everything to remain as it was pre-illness, etc. I find myself trying to live up to those expectations and then feeling guilty, worthless and like a failure when I can't. And then also feeling frustrated at the type of demands being put on me.
  4. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Good question, Heather.

    Lowering expectations doesn't mean giving up. It means giving yourself and your kids some slack. It means slowing down. Your bio says you have coronary artery disease, which implies to me that you are often tired. Hey, don't you think your body is trying to tell you something? Why do you listen to your kids and your mom and not your own body?

    I agree with-Sharon that probability comes into play constantly with-our G'sFG, which would make us assume that we should lower our expectations. That means instead of expecting your kids to be ready in 5 min., expect 10. Instead of expecting a meltdown-free day, expect a meltdown-free morning. Or hour.
    Also, expect that your G'sFG WILL achieve something in their lifetimes. Just not what the next-door-neighbors may achieve.

    And I agree with-you that acceptance could come into play, but I think we can have expectations AND acceptance if we can learn to create a balance.

    Maybe it would have been more accurate for your therapist to suggest that you reframe your expectations, both for yourself and your G'sFG.

    I am assuming she didn't mean you couldn't have ANY expectations, just that they were out of whack, out of proportion to the probability that something would happen exactly as you hoped it would.

    #3, a high pitch of expectation, sounds like what you're dealing with-now, in regard to being self-critical.

    You cannot fix everything. Not the power outage down the street, not Bhutto's assassination, not your difficult child's depression.
    What you can do is provide tools and guidance to help your difficult child navigate through life... which in and of itself is a pretty major task with-regular kids.
    That you even give emotional credibility to your difficult child's concept that you fix everything is much too high of an expectation.

    Your difficult child and your mother are not in charge of your expectations.
    YOU are.

    I can say this much more easily now because, frankly, my mom has been gone for 2 yrs and I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Your mother may not be as bad, but still, mothers have a way of putting on pressure either subtly or overtly.

    Whenever things get to be too much at home, I put up my hands and say, "Hold it! There's only one of me!"
  5. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    You're right, Terry, I do have very high expectations of myself. I guess it's all about recognizing limitations. I hate that part.
  6. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I joined a 12-step group last spring and have learned a lot from it about letting go of things like unrealistic expectations. That took a lot of pressure off and gave me the strength and courage to say no to many situations and people in my life who were used to me responding with yes, regardless of the pain it was causing me. The resentment over trying to meet everyone else's expectations, and ignoring my own needs was killing me, or at least driving me to dark places that I thought I'd managed to pull myself out of several years ago.

    Heather, it sounds like you need to cut yourself some slack and let some people in your life suffer a little disappointment. They'll get over it.
  7. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    gcvmom, you make such an important point.
    Saying "no" is a life skill, as far as I'm concerned, and it's one that a lot of us struggle with.

    I think that expectations relate very closely to boundaries. We need to be able to draw that line that says, I can do this, this and this, but certainly not that. When people are used to you saying "yes" to everything, you will get lots of resistance the first time you say no, but people will get used to it.

    It's a bit like having consistent, firm consequences for our difficult children. We need to ensure that we know our limits (not necessarily limitations, just limits), so that we can identify what the "no" points are. Then it becomes much easier to do.

    I have a terrible habit of saying, "Yes, I can do that", which led to my having a breakdown at work last March (When I was leading a meeting, in front of 35 people). It was at that point that I realized I had to set limits or go crazy. With the help of my therapist, I have been working very hard to identify boundaries and figure out what I will say no to. When I know ahead of time, then it becomes much easier to say no when it comes up.

    This alone has done wonders for my stress level. I'm much happier and more relaxed, and it's having a beneficial effect on everyone around me.