3 Reasons Expectations Color Reality

Recently, I discovered my ipad mini under a stack of files. When I tried to fire it up, the battery was so low I had to charge it for a while to get it to come on. Once it came to life, I saw reminders and emails from a year ago. Had it really been a year since I used it?

When I bought the ipad, I had great expectations. However, soon after, I realized it wasn’t exactly what I imagined it to be. I’d planned to write, or at least make notes, on it, but the keyboard is awkward, the letters oddly spaced and difficult to access. Emails and texts messages are slow to update. In short, the device I thought would be a great tool is really just a slow, oversized phone.

Have you had great expectations for something or someone and been disappointed? We all have mental imagines of what we anticipate for current and future events, others, and ourselves. Following are some reasons why expectations color reality:

Expectations Paint an Unrealistic Picture

Travel brochures and websites are really good at painting idealistic pictures of beautiful vistas, scrumptious food, and relaxing vacation destinations. Magazines showcase perfect homes, beautiful people, and enviable lives. But reality is often less wonderful. Real life includes complicated problems that aren’t always easily resolved.

Advertising is designed to make you want what you don’t have. Often, the idea of “you deserve it” or “you are worth it” is couched within the message. Before long, your expectations exceed reality.

While setting and working toward achieving goals motivates you to move forward, be aware that reality isn’t always as smooth, or easy, as expectations paint it. Set goals that are attainable, and then rejoice when reality exceeds your expectations.

Expectations Discount Human Weaknesses

What we expect of others is influenced by what we expect of ourselves. If you value honesty, you expect honesty in others. If you are organized and regimented, you assume other will be also. But people have unique personalities, grow up in different environments, and place value on diverse things.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. Expecting others to be like you, or possess strengths in areas you don’t, has an impact on how you view reality. In both business and personal relationships, your expectations of others, and yourself, can create conflict and disappointment. Others aren’t always going to do, or be, what you expect, because we are all human and fallible. Realizing this helps you extend grace to others, and to yourself.

Expectations Rarely Include a Monkey Wrench

The dictionary defines “monkey wrench” as a tool with one fixed and one adjustable jaw at right angles to a straight handle. The secondary definition is anything that disrupts. Either can apply when it comes to expectations and reality.

When you think something is likely to happen, for example, you expect to get a raise or promotion, but it doesn’t happen, your expectation has been disrupted. Perhaps your boss indicated repeatedly that you were next in line for a promotion. You know you have the skills to do the job well, and, in fact, have been doing most of the job already, and then top management decides to hire “out house.” You have just been monkey wrenched.

Expectations, especially when they are logical and seem guaranteed, rarely include the idea that something could change what seems inevitable. But when expectation and reality collide in this manner, remember, you don’t know all the thought processes and variables behind decisions. Your expectations are the handle of the monkey wrench, while someone else is in control of the adjustable side of the right angle jaw.

Regaining forward motion after your expectations have been monkey wrenched takes intentionality. Many times, moving ahead after what you envisioned doesn’t happen requires forgiveness. Instead, anger and venting are often the responses.

Temper how you respond to unmet expectations. Especially avoid expressing your disappointment and frustration on social media. Take time to think, journal, and pray. And then move forward with realistic expectations, and also with wisdom.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick; but when dreams come true at last, there is life and joy.” Proverbs 13:12 TLB


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