Thursday, April 5, 2018

Your Expectations Are Hurting You

One of the greatest insights I've had is by the great Tony Robbins. We are sad or angry not because what happened to us, but instead, of our expectations of what should happen. On the surface this doesn't seem like such a key insight, but it really does have some profound implications.

Lets understand this with an example. Lets say that I'm at work and my coworker tells me that I am a terrible engineer. I take pride in my work, so I am offended by the statement. I am hurt and sad. Now, a while ago, I would agree that I am sad because of what my coworker did. But, after that key piece of insight, I now know that I am sad because of my expectation of what should happen: "He has no right to treat me like that", "who is he to judge, he's not a good engineer to judge", etc. The expectation is key here because if I thought that this was normal: maybe I am a crappy engineer or maybe this was expected because this particular engineer says this to everyone, then I'd go on with my day because what happened would have aligned with my expectation. But it was the fact that it didn't, that got a reaction out of me.

Now we know that my reaction was based on my expectation. Lets take it one more step. If my expectation was different than what happened, it means that my expectation was different than reality. That's right, I've become sad or angry because I live in a world that is not real and that real action has caused my imaginary world to come crashing down. When you put it this way, it turns what we originally thought as a basic normal action(person said something) / reaction (I reacted to what was said), to me just being a bit cuckoo. You believe that person should not say those things to you but she did! You believe your son should wash the dishes but he didn't! You believe your significant other should have been more thoughtful to you but they didn't! How long are you going to avoid reality?

Once we realize how illogical we are being we can take the necessary steps to address the issue. You have to face up to reality. Accepting reality what is is half the battle. When you do that you no longer blame. Its not your kids fault for not washing the dishes. Its your fault, for expecting the kid to have done so. From there you can calm down, stop blaming, and take action to make it better. Did your kid know that it was his responsibility to do so? Is he rebelling because of some reason? Does he need and can you help him build his discipline? There can be a number of reasons and you can now thoughtfully take ownership and seek ways to make things better.

In order to make things better we need to make a distinction on what is part of our expectation and what is reality. It sounds crazy that we could get really emotionally distraught over our expectations but we do and will continue doing so until we learn to embrace reality.