Expectations, Disappointment, Anger, Depression

Thank God for my friend Steve — he’s one of the best blessings in my life! We frequently talk first thing in the day during his morning commute. This morning we talked about expectations of other people and how they are frequently a source of disappointment and then anger and then depression. Hence the quote above…

I was sitting down to prep a screencast on the topic when I started googling for a quote from Francois Fénélon I remember as “disappointments are the bastard child of false expectations” but my memory must be off because according to Google, no such quote exists. Still it makes a point and I found some writings of Fénélon that you might find interesting…

More interesting to me at the moment is this quote from Dr. Michael Yapko:

“What single factor most determines your degree of satisfaction with your relationships, whether it’s your relationships with your government or your relationship with your kids, friends and neighbors? What single factor most influences how you gauge whether your relationship with someone is good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, worthwhile or a waste of time? Your expectations.

When you have unrealistic expectations of other people, you are at high risk for getting hurt, disappointed and depressed. It’s easiest, perhaps even reflexive, to blame them and self-righteously say, “That person let me down.” And, maybe that person did let you down. But, it’s at least as likely that you let yourself down by having unrealistic expectations to begin with.

On one level, I’m talking about your expectations of others, but on another level, I’m really talking about you – the degree to which you are aware of what your expectations are and how well you can determine whether your expectations for others- and for yourself- are realistic. If they’re not, you can suffer repeated disappointments and hurts in your relationships, and these can be victimizing and painful enough to lead to frustration, anger, disillusionment – and depression.

Peoples’ poorly informed and therefore unrealistic expectations fuel their anger and discontent. Before you get angry, it would be great if you could sit down quietly for awhile and ask yourself what you expect, how you know whether your expectations are realistic, and whether you need much more information before you get too attached to your ideas about how you think things “should” be. You’ll get much further dealing skillfully with how things really are when you catch yourself getting wrapped up in the “shoulds.”

Don’t mistake what you want for what you’re actually going to get.” Full story at: Expectations, Disappointment, Anger, Depression | Managing Depression Skillfully.

So, as Dr. Yapko says “I’m talking about your expectations of others, but on another level, I’m really talking about you – the degree to which you are aware of what your expectations are and how well you can determine whether your expectations for others- and for yourself- are realistic.” So in the end, I think you and I are called to love ourselves and part of that loving is to have reasonable expectations of our capabilities and to work to increase those capabilities. In closing, the words of the great Apostle Paul:

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:12-14

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