What side of the coin will you choose: acceptance or disappointment?

Jan Kwiatkowski, LMFT, is a psychotherapist and mental health consultant for Aurora Family Service in Milwaukee, WI.

Like many of you, I’ve had multiple conversations about the Packers/Seahawks Monday night football game and the outcome-changing call made by the replacement refs.

I was as angry about the call as anyone else, but I kept asking myself what we were all expecting? Yes, there were circumstances out of our immediate control, but the unspoken expectation was that even though the replacement refs were not qualified, somehow they should have still refed at the level of the professionals.

When it didn’t turn out that way, we were all disappointed. Expectation and disappointment are different sides of the same coin. The coin is acceptance.

Some of my favorite quotes about expectations include:

“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.” Donald Miller

“Never idealize others. They will never live up to your expectations.” Leo Buscaglia

“I am not in this world to live up to other people’s expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine.” Fritz Perls

Whether we realize it or not, we all have expectations about people, situations, our jobs, relationships, children, institutions, our families, the products we purchase, what marriage and parenting will and should be like….the list goes on and on.

When, for any reason, these don’t live up to our expectations, we can feel frustrated, irritated, angry or disappointed. It seems to me that unrealistic and/or unspoken expectations are at the root of many problems within our daily lives, particularly with the people closest to us.

Our spouses or life partners cannot fill the empty or hurting places in us that need healing and growth. A three year old child, who might be the size of a 4 year old, still is only developmentally able to function as a three year old. We cannot go through life without making mistakes and expecting perfection from ourselves and others is a recipe for disappointment and more.

Expecting that “after all this time __________________ should ______________- (fill in your own blanks) may simply not be realistic. And again, this sets us up for disappointment, anger and relationship issues. We know these things, but often our relationships are penalized for forgetting them.

When you find yourself angry or disappointed with yourself or someone else, before you respond in word or action, try to step back and ask yourself what you were expecting. You might be surprised at what your own answers are.

Are you holding on to the expectation that someone will change or be someone they are not? Is what you are asking of your spouse, child, parent, significant other or someone in a professional position realistic? Does your expectation fill an emotional need in you that you have been unaware of? Does your expectation reflect a fear or loss that has been hard to experience?

Just as football players have a choice about kicking or receiving the ball at the coin toss, we also have a choice about what we will do with either side of what life gives us. We can kick away the examination of our expectations or we can receive whatever our relationships or situations has to offer.

Just as the football players have refs to toss the coin for them, sometimes we need someone to help us toss the coin of acceptance and help us name the side the coin we might choose.

Just as refs help sort out penalty situations, we may need some help sorting out relationship penalties. We are here to help flip the coin and decide the next steps in “your game”.

Aurora Family Service helps families overcome challenges, changes and crisis to live well again. We achieve stability and strength for families through counseling, parenting, elder care, financial, career, health and community services.  For more information, visit our website, follow us on Facebook, or call 1-414-342-4560.

This entry was posted in Family matters and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s