I want it! I need it! I have to have it! If I don't, I'm gonna... Thank goodness people can't hear what we're saying in our heads, because no matter whether the "it" we are waiting for is -- to hear back from a first date, job interview, a store clerk with a price check, or just any mere sign of hope from the universe -- we are going to sound strikingly similar to a child having a tantrum, even if we are dressed in a grown-up Armani suit with matching shoes.
When we say, "It better happen or else I'm gonna" fact is, the thing we're "gonna" do is get frustrated or, over time, even depressed. We create expectations, ultimatums and deals without making sure that the people who could make our dreams come true are actually in on the plan -- whether that's ourselves or someone else. We say things like: I should have gotten that promotion, I was supposed to! Supposed to? Says who? Or, I should have gotten that 20-item to do list done today. Really? That challenge would have been kryptonite to Superman. We are crushed. By what?
The real problem is that there's no handshake between our expectations and reality. We can't make people call us back, or make promotions happen, or get 15 hours of work done in an eight-hour workday. Yet we insist on having the exact outcome we were picturing in our minds. It's kind of like if a wish, a need, and a demand walked into a bar together, had too much to drink, and walked out with each other's identity cards.
You can't always get what you want. The Rolling Stones called it. But these words are as much disregarded as they are immortal. How do we prevent unmet expectations from derailing us? It's up to us to adjust our expectations to fit reality, to make the handshake happen. Reality tends not to make the first move.
Rather than expecting a refund when we are disappointed, we need to clearly distinguish between wants, needs, and demands. If this sounds too complicated, think of how you explain this to your child: "You don't need that new PlayStation 4, iPad 3, etc. You would like to have it. Your life won't be totally better with it, and it won't be totally a disaster without it.
So, the challenge in front of you is to tell those words to your inner child. Here are some strategies for making safer, smarter expectations.
While no one likes disappointment, remember: By clutching very tightly to needing things to go exactly as we imagine, we usually manufacture it ourselves. The good news is that we can create something different, something better. Try these ideas and with more flexibility in your expectations, you just might find in the other immortal words of the Rolling Stones: You get what you need.
For more by Tamar Chansky, click here.
For more on mindfulness, click here.
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