charlie brown and lucy

The Dangers of Expectations

Last week I wrote about wanting things to go back to how they were, and how that expectation is unrealistic and unhelpful. This week I want to take this one step further and explore how our expectations of others and our desire for specific outcomes leads us to resentment, anger, and hopelessness – and what we can do about it.

Expectations

We view the world and others through our own perceptions, beliefs, and mores. Consciously and unconsciously, we expect people to think and act in the way we believe others should act. It is not bad to have our expectations, but assuming others can, will, and desire to live by our standards is unrealistic. I would hope that everyone would see the world the way I do and treat each other kindly, but if I am being honest, I can’t even live up to that perfectly every day.

Our expectations are not only about the actions of other people. Our expectations are also about the environment, politics, society, and every circumstance that touches our lives. Most of the North America is currently experiencing severe cold and snow right now. Many are angry or disheartened by this fact. Their expectation is that it should not be cold, but it is winter and Mother Nature does what Mother Nature does. Others are having trouble accepting election results or the seriousness of the Coronavirus. Just because we don’t want to believe the facts, does not mean they are not facts. Our expectations of people, the environment, and the world can not control the reality of any of those things.

Acceptance

Instead of stubbornly holding on to our expectations in the face of reality, we need to accept reality. The image of Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the football comes to mind. Charlie Brown constantly expected Lucy to hold the football for him. And Lucy constantly pulled the football away before he kicked it. If Charlie Brown decides to believe each and every time that Lucy will act differently than she has consistently acted, who is to blame for his pain?

As I have said before, “Pain comes from expecting a dog to be a cat. A dog is going to be a dog.” People are probably going to do what they have done before. The weather is going to be the weather. The results are going to be the results. No matter how much we believe or insist, these facts will not change. Our desire for reality to be different from reality only causes us pain, anger, resentment, and disappointment. Acceptance is the key to peace.

Boundaries

Bear in mind that acceptance does not mean we allow ourselves to be continually hurt. It is important to create boundaries and to voice our needs. Charlie Brown needs to accept Lucy will remove the football – and then he should probably find someone else to hold the ball for him in the future.

Acceptance does not mean we excuse or accept the actions of others. Acceptance simply means we stop fighting reality. When we can accept the reality of the situation, we are then empowered to do something about it. If we are around people or circumstances that do not serve us, instead of angerly attacking reality, it is best to accept the reality of the situation so that we are then empowered to change the situation or remove ourselves from it.

Much of our anger and resentment is because we are playing the victim of some person or circumstance. We are giving them our power. It is important that we set healthy boundaries and clearly voice those boundaries moving forward.  

Be Kind

As Robin Williams is quoted as saying, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” We can only the do the best we can do that day at that time. We can encourage, hope, and pray people will act better – but on any given day they are only going to be able to do what they are capable at doing. Know that even when someone is seemingly intentionally being mean, it is usually because of their own pain. That doesn’t mean you need to take their abuse, but it does mean that you can still give them your empathy.

Where are you fighting reality? What do you need to accept? What boundaries can you put in place? Instead of playing victim to circumstances or others, empower yourself through acceptance.

telling the truth

The Truth of the Matter

Truth with a capital T has become a frequent topic for me lately. Maybe it is digesting too much Brené Brown and seeking to be vulnerable in all my words and deeds. Maybe it is seeing others have a problem speaking up and standing by their truth. No matter the reason, I am finding being impeccable to my word, as Don Miguel Ruiz would say, is infinitely important.

Many reasons exist as to why we don’t share the truth. Sometimes we are embarrassed by our truth; it may be meaningless in the scheme of things, like sharing the guilty pleasure of watching Hallmark movies, or maybe it is more important like a personal foible or mistake we have made that could cause irreparable damage to our reputation. Sometimes we don’t hide our truth on purpose; we don’t share our truth because we don’t know it or don’t feel like we have the right to voice it. Sometimes we purposely try to change the truth for our own means and gains.

It has been said that the truth will set you free. And I believe that to be true. As I have become more honest about who I am and what I have done, I feel lighter and freer. It takes a lot of energy to lie or to hide our truth; it can be exhausting. When we final uncover, own, and accept our truth, we release the stress of having to hold things in.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

A few months ago, my boss had asked me if I had any phone trouble. The truth was that I had, although I thought/hoped it was now fixed. The second I said, “No, I don’t have any issues,” I felt a 10-pound weight lowered on my shoulders. Here was a little white lie, a half truth that I didn’t need to make, and here it would remain hanging over me until I fessed up the whole truth.

On the other hand, last week a friend had said something that appeared to be a bit judgmental. She called to apologize and explain her intention. She didn’t try to nullify how I may have felt or try to sweep it under the rug. She owned what she said. She explained what she intended to say and how it may have been misunderstood. Her apology had to be one of the best gifts I was given. The power of the apology was that she acknowledged how her actions may have been received and took ownership for any pain she caused. Her truth not only released her but released me as well. Amazing.

Even if our truth is bad or hurtful, if we own it, we create peace around it. We are all human. We all make mistakes. Somewhere along the lines, most of us start to believe that we need to be perfect. That we need to always have the right words, thoughts, and actions. It is impossible to be perfect in every moment of every day. The most powerful tool we have as humans is the ability to uncover, know, accept, and share our truth. No matter how good, bad, or ugly it is. Having the courage to take responsibility for ourselves, to not blame others, and to try to make right what we can, is true vulnerability and something I strive for every day.

Speaking Up About Speaking Up

It has taken a while, but I believe I have finally embraced the power of my own voice. In the beginning I didn’t even know what my own personal thoughts were which made it impossible to share them. For some of us it is not easy to know what to say, because we are so often in the habit of listening to others instead of knowing our own voice. We look to others or common wisdom as to what to say and when. We give others our power and don’t know our own truth.

As I began to know my mind, most times I kept my opinion to myself for fear of being wrong or not accepted. Often it seems easier to not speak up. We may not want to hurt someone’s feelings, get involved outside our comfort zone, be blamed, or be embarrassed. Holding our thoughts in seems easier than creating a conversation and dealing with differing, possibly conflicting, views. Holding in our thoughts though keeps us from living fully and freely.   

As confidence in my thoughts grew, they unfortunately spewed out in nasty, judgmental, looking-for-a-fight ways. Sometimes we don’t speak our truth, we scream it. We hold things in for so long that they finally spill out in a tirade of anger, attack, and judgment. The result is we are not heard any more than when we kept our tongue.  

Hopefully today I do a much better job of knowing my mind and sharing it in a constructive, compassionate way. Owning and speaking our truth may seem difficult, but it doesn’t need to be. Here are a few tips to help you know, embrace, and speak your truth.

Photo by Maria Krisanova on Unsplash

Get in Touch with You

We must start here. If we don’t know our truth in the first place, how can we share it?  Spend some time in quiet every day to release the voices of others and to begin hearing your own voice. When a thought comes into your head, ask if it is your opinion or that of someone else. Learn to discern your own personal truth from the thoughts and feelings of others.

Just Because Everyone is Doing It

Sometimes we know our truth, but don’t share it because we don’t want to be different. We are going with the flow. We don’t want to rock the boat. We blindly follow conventional wisdom. It takes courage to look around us and say that how it has always been done or what the masses are doing is not right for us or right in general. Bold pioneers have changed the world by questioning what everyone else is doing and thinking.

Speak with Compassion

When we have the courage to use our voice and speak our truth it is important that we do so with compassion. If we yell our opinion or express it in a way that attacks another, it does not do anyone any good. Try expressing yourself gently but firmly. Speak your mind in a way that does not attack or degrade another. In doing so you have a better chance of being heard and understood. Also, sharing your voice with compassion just feels better.

What’s the Worst Thing

If you are on the fence about sharing your truth, gain motivation by asking what is the worst thing that would happen if you don’t share the truth. How is your life and the lives of those around you going to continue to suffer if you do not speak up?

Move Past the Fear

Also ask what is the worst thing that would happen if you do share your truth. Embarrassment? Disagreement? Often what is potentially gained far outweighs any negatives.