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Several years ago, I met a bubbly and enthusiastic woman. As I got to know her, I was amazed at her life story. She was a goal setter, had a college degree, got married and expected her goals to become a reality.
She discovered, however, that the career she had chosen was not what she had hoped for. She was happy to be a stay-at-home mom, but when her second child died in the womb, she was devastated and was convinced it was her fault even when doctors assured her it wasn’t.
Spiraling downward, depression settled in as she tried to come to terms with what had happened. Her marriage began to dissolve and the counseling she got was not helpful. She went from a healthy, vibrant individual to sinking into a troubling depression.
During this time, she found a bracelet lying on the sidewalk. After unsuccessful attempts to find the owner, she decided to keep it. Upon closer examination, she discovered words inscribed on the bracelet. They included words like imagine, believe, and create.
They immediately got her attention, and she began to examine her ideals, expectations, and assumptions she had about life.
What did she really want to do?
When she switched her career to something she loved doing, she became a vivacious, energetic, goal-oriented woman. She knew what was important to her and why.
We Need Healthy and Realistic Expectations
There are thousands of stories like hers that hold similar expectations about how life should and ought to be.
We hold expectations that our goals will result in a happy ever after. When they don’t, we are unprepared as to what to do next.
We need expectations to make our goals succeed. We need them to motivate us. If we didn’t believe we could succeed, we wouldn’t bother trying. There would be nothing to motivate us.
But those expectations need to be shaped and molded. Our first attempts will not automatically be successful.
Turning Expectations into Unbreakable Rules
We often turn our expectations into unbreakable rules that everybody must follow.
I shouldn’t have been laid off; I was a loyal employee.
I did everything everyone told me to do, but it didn’t work out.
I have been trustworthy and loyal, with good intentions. How could you do this to me?
When life turns upside down, we begin to doubt ourselves. Or we might hold others responsible for what happens, and nurse our anger or resentment until it consumes our thinking.
We believe that others are responsible for how we feel.
Yet, everybody sees the world differently. Everybody has their own expectations and assumptions. Each of us interprets life and the expectations associated with them differently. If we turn them into laws, rules, and expectations that cannot be broken, we will be in trouble.
Expecting – and Accepting – Unforeseen Challenges
Without realistic expectations, we will not achieve.
It is important to dream and aspire for a better life. Great things have been accomplished because people had the determination to make their life meaningful. At the same time, we need to take time to examine them.
We will be hit with overwhelming challenges. The best laid plans will not always work out. When we accept that unforeseen challenges will always be a part of life, we will stop struggling and put our energy into figuring out how we can work with them. Then our actions become productive and beneficial.
Disappointments, setbacks, and difficulties are not just unfortunate things that happen to us. They happen to everybody.
Within those unexpected challenges, however, we discover we have a stronger resilience than we thought. While we may think we have reached our limit, and it might seem like the end of the world, we often discover a determination and toughness we didn’t know we had.
Disasters and misfortunes become opportunities to discover more about ourselves.