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  • Writer's pictureEllen Bookman

Unrealistic Expectations and the Havoc it Wreaks!

The other day I had a conversation with my best friend. Since the age of 11, we have loved, fought, laughed, and cried. Like all close relationships, we have been through everything together from puberty to marriage and babies to menopause and now midlife. We are constantly having deep conversations about life with us inevitably trying to solve the world’s problems.

Yesterday’s call was about not the world at large, but our personal worlds and how “unrealistic expectations” wreak havoc on our lives. We could not figure why we feel so bad when expectations are not met, and, thus, started another conversation to dissect this issue. Interesting fact: we do not have unrealistic expectations of each other.

Following our convo, I took it to “the Google” and looked up the definition:

Unrealistic Expectations:

“Unrealistic expectations assume a level of control that we don't actually have in a situation. We repeatedly feel disappointment that the expectation hasn't been met.”

“Expecting more from others than they can realistically provide can (a) strain your relationships; (b) fuel conflict; and (c) leave you angry and resentful. You might begin to lose faith in your loved ones, even when they did nothing to betray your trust.”

Then, I found the “golden ticket” in PsychCentral: How to Relinquish Unrealistic-expectations.

Like a hammer to the head, one thing became clear: it is not about “why” someone is acting a certain way. It is about “letting go” of our own unrealistic expectations.

I learned:

“Unrealistic expectations are potentially damaging because they set us and others up for failure,” said Selena C. Snow, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist in Rockville, Md. When we or someone else naturally falls short, we draw false conclusions, feel negative feelings and act in negative ways,” she said.

Now, I am wondering how to undo the damage and found this article on Checking your expectations, in Healthline, which focusses on these tips for how to let them go:

1. You can only control yourself.

2. Know your limits.

3. Share your expectations

4. Keep a flexible mindset

The truth is:

1. I have unrealistic expectations.

2. I am affected by the unrealistic expectations.

3. I am inflicting this upon my daughter.

4. I am going to fix the problem by trying to share my expectations and listen to hers.

I already sent her a text saying all of this. I hope she responds!


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