Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Managing Expectations

There are at least a couple of Rolling Stones songs that I have always appreciated. 'Satisfaction' and 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' come to mind here. I used to joke that these would be sung at my funeral. If you are someone that is perennially disappointed with the state of things, you would appreciate the intent of this music. Buyer's remorse is a common affliction in a consumer society such as ours and then there is the disappointment that comes after plans or intentions go awry. This is the worst...except for... when people let us down or when we perceive that this has happened. The things we expect from each other and the things we actually do are many times very different or are perceived that way. Some of this comes from a failure to understand one another or even bad communication. Some of it is a result of how much we care about what is expected. Mostly though, I think we always expect more than others have to offer. This is a failure to manage expectations. One person does not get what he wants; he expected much more than was offered. The other did not understand what was expected and offered something less than what was desired or something that was not desired at all. And there are some, especially in leadership positions in our world, that use expectations to manipulate and motivate or create covetousness or desire to promote themselves.

What I am saying is that we have to manage our expectations. As Mick Jagger informed me many years ago, we cannot always get what we want. Satisfaction will be elusive unless we manage our expectations. We will constantly be disappointed in everything; people, products, friends, family or even life will seem unsatisfactory.

I tend to be an idealist about some things, particularly spiritual matters. I have a 'vision' about how things should be. I have been constructing it in my mind for decades. I have written about it, talked about it and even taught it. I am genuinely shocked when people I respect disagree with it and I begin to suspect that maybe they are not as spiritual or as knowledgeable as I thought they were. Then I get angry when they embrace part of what I teach them and then do something that I see as a complete contradiction to my 'vision'.  

I fail to manage my expectations. Sometimes my expectations are unreasonable. There is also the possibility that I may be wrong.; oh...that hurt.

My friends are not the way I want them to be. They are just the way the are, as God made them. Who am I to be dissatisfied or disappointed? Who am I to disrespect them because I feel let down over something that I should not have expected in the first place?

I hope you see where I am going with this. What we want, what we need and what we get are often three different things. We have to deal with it and not become despondent or angry or judgmental as we do that. Manage your expectations and your relationships. Do so in love. 

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