How can we overcome our frustration of unmet expectations? Contrary to popular belief, it is not by pressuring others into meeting them, lowering them or resign into martyrdom.
For most of my career as advisor for Results Based Monitoring (RBM) I supported government and NGO teams in changing their perspective and approach to the way projects are planned, implemented and monitored. RBM is about asking the right question. The most important shift was moving from asking “Why” to asking “What for”. Over the years and decades thousands of projects have been implemented around the world in reaction to an undesired situation. Wells were drilled, schools and hospitals built,…
For a very long time we have held on to the belief that unless we expect, claim, request and ask for what ‘is ours’ we will not get it. Countless courses to help people be more assertive stress the importance to – if not aggressively, then at least firmly demand our expectations to be fulfilled and our needs to be met.
Whenever we set goals, we’re encouraged to explore the why behind the goal. That makes a lot of sense, because the universe has its own way of delivery.
I’m beginning to understand something else, though. There is another place where the why should never enter.
A lot of our expectations are not our own. Culture shapes what we think about the world, about what people, including us, should do and how we should all be. Cultural norms – which are nothing but expectations – define what success is, how a marriage is supposed to run, how children are to be raised and even what happiness consists of. Social animals that we are, we strive to adhere cultural expectations, lest we be excluded from the happy zoo of conformity.
Most of us live our lives as if whatever goes on within our minds is the ultimate truth in the world. We take everything personal. From our in-law’s comment to the neighbor’s dog poo on our front yard to the rain on our barbeque. They all seem out to get us sometimes. After all, they KNOW how you feel about this, don’t they?
Let’s get some perspective then and see how truly nothing is or will ever be personal.
We’re told that everything happens for a reason. But really, what good could possibly lie in those everyday irritating instances such as having to rummage through your bag once again to find the train ticket, which – of course – has hidden in the last folded corner of the bag?
I could start the article by suggesting that the corona virus was developed and spread by the toilet paper industry, but that would be a lame joke. In fact, I don’t want to talk about COVID-19 at all. I want to talk about fears. Not THE FEAR. Fears.