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Well, What Did You Expect?

Oh, the land of expectations! For most folks, this environment has proven to be more disappointing than helpful. Mostly because when we choose what the expectations are for ourselves, and others, we tend towards what is ideal, rather than real. And expectations are binary by nature – they are either met or not. When expectations are met, there can be joy. Often, they are not, and disappointment comes to visit us.

One of my favorite stories of expectations is of a couple I saw in counseling back in the day. She asked him if he would come and pick her up from work. He agreed to do so and did. However, her expectation of being “picked up from work” meant that he would come inside the office building to get her. His expectation was that he would wait in the parking lot. Both are reasonable expectations and only in reality did the disparity become clear. She was disappointed by his waiting in the parking lot, and he was disappointed by her reaction to what seemed obvious to him.

How did they not know such a clear distinction about something so common? They had different expectations for the same activity. The learning was that inquiry can be helpful in the land of relationship expectations. Never think you know what the other means unless you have clarified. Trust and mutually verify is not just for nuclear treaties!

The land of expectations can be quite precarious because of the scarcity of curiosity. Expectations are often held with certainty and therefore the corresponding gravitas. Curiosity allows us to adventure with another knowing that both of us are an unfolding mystery – to ourselves and each other. I believe that if you reflect on your experience, you will find this to be true. Live into the mystery and tread lightly in the land of expectations.

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