Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My great expectations

I have great expectations.  Yes I do.  I'm learning to stop having them, but it's a hard habit to give up.  I've been working on this part of my personality.  It's something I've been hurt by more than once.  My great expectations of others doing what they say they will do.  Or people doing the "right thing."  Since I am such a beautiful princess it's taking me a long time to learn this new trick.

Maybe my great expectations are similar to projection?  I just assume if someone says they will do something or follow through on some action, they will do what they say.  I don't assume they are lying to me.  And this is where I often run into trouble.  There are a lot of people out there telling me what I want to hear.  Just saying the "right thing."  In the minds of these people, this is not considered a lie.  They are just appeasing me.  They are getting me off their back, so to speak.

I'm sitting here thinking about how and why this has been my experience.  The folks coming to my mind are people like:  my son, fellow committee members, members of a bible study, and "friends."

Ok, my son does this to me to get me off his back, period.  He will look me straight in the face and lie to me.  Even when the lie is so obvious.  I've come to learn it is more of a "f-off" than a deception.  I'm learning to avoid being lied to, by him, by not confronting him on just about everything.  Instead, if it is important to me, I ask my husband to speak with him.  For some reason my son can hear things from him in a different way.  I'm hoping, in time, my son will learn to hear me differently.  I think, to my son, my voice immediately sounds like a nag or accusation to him.  I'm trying to be more positive and look for successes in his life.  I'm trying to say the positive things out loud.  For now, I've been much more successful in avoiding the negative by saying nothing at all.  If you look at this mathematically, I'm making a 100% improvement.  However, I'm seeking a greater improvement.

Now, the expectations I have for fellow committee members (on the HOA).  Hmmm.  How shall I begin?  My expectations have been for these folks to do the action items they are assigned at each meeting.  These are my spoken expectations.  I also have unspoken expectation, but I am smart enough to know these will not be met.  One of my unspoken expectations is for the president of the board to have an agenda for each monthly meeting.  This has never happened.  This WILL never happen.  However, my spoken expectation is for action items to be completed in the month between meetings.  I am building some very solid resentments in this area against some people serving on the board.  This is my problem.  I'm thinking, as I write, about how to remedy this problem.  I think people run (board members are elected by the neighborhood) for a position on the board for different reasons.  Some run to improve the neighborhood.  Some enjoy service.  Some want to preside over a "kingdom."  Some do it to see how popular they are.  Some do it to be compensated their HOA fees.  See, all different reasons.  When I first came to the board, I thought it was JUST to improve the neighborhood.  Now I know better.  When I think of the different reasons to be on an HOA board, I can see why action items can slide WAY DOWN the priority list for these people.  I may not be happy about it, but I can now understand it.

The expectations for members of a bible study or any other social/study club are similar to the above.  And my take away from the bad experience is this; people will tell you what you want to hear.  Even if they are Christians and not supposed to lie to your face.  When members say a study is going to begin on Sept. 16th, I have learned it was my bad for thinking this would be the date the study would begin.  I had agreed to continue in a study with women, some of whom were downright difficult, because I had "done the math" and figured I would have to endure only three lessons.  Because my home was the study venue, I didn't want to leave them in a lurch.  However, in their "kindness" toward me, they postponed the beginning of the study so I would not miss ANY of it.  *thanks*  I guess I brought this great expectation on myself.  *shame on me*  I should have told them I no longer felt comfortable with this group.

Now, the great expectation I have for friends.  Here's the thing.  I think I use the word friends too loosely.  I should be using the word acquaintances.  These are the folks happy to be my friend when I'm available to them, agree with them, or do what they would like me to do.  They don't have any use for me when I have my own desires or opinions.  
My take-away from this exercise is to not have any expectations of others.  If they do what they say they will do, great.  If they don't do what they say they will do, fine.  If I REALLY need to have follow-through on a task I need to be willing to do it myself.  Since dependability is my middle name this is a tough lesson for me to learn.  And, even as I think about it right now, maybe I have my own issues.  Maybe I take things too literally?  Maybe this is my personality type struggle?  I've learned the only person I can change is myself.  Let the growth begin.


  1. You may have just given me a breakthrough!  Unbelievably, I've never really considered this issue in terms of projection.  For example, it would never in a millions years occur to me NOT to do the action items, so I am totally dumbfounded when other people don't behave the same way.

  2. i hear you...i think we can have unreasonable expectations...i think the one thing we often do is not talk them through with those that we have them with...that leans toward greater understanding of each other...keep at it with the positive to your son...avoidance is not the best solution and it is a tentative peace at best...i agree on projection, it is true we do...

  3. I have really learned to lower my expectations of others.  They have their character defects as do I.  There are some people that I can rely on, but lowering expectations is a good thing.

  4. Oh I know the feeling, so well! But I am like Forest Gump's feather in terms of stability so, while I try to be dependable, I also float away before I can fulfill. So I guess I learned pretty quickly the lesson of expectations. I think you're right, though, that more dependable people have a harder time accepting the less-than-dependability of others. Getting it done feels so natural, even necessary, for you that you can't imagine how others view it with such disregard. Wouldn't you just love to spend a day in a low-expectation person's mind, just to see how it operates?!

  5. A therapist told me once that if you have no expectations, you are never disappointed.  Hmmm.  I've never been sure if that is completely doable, but I certainly think people in your life should do what they say they will do.

  6. The only person I can change is me.  But, I know what you mean.

  7. Getting things done DOES feel natural to me, so it is surprising when others don't get the same feelings.  Welcome home.

  8.  Thanks brian.  Projection is a problem.  When I listened to our president speak last night, I could hear the projection in his words.  It's not a good thing for anyone.

  9.  I so feel you MZ.  But, I'm learning.


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