Thursday, April 5, 2012

some thoughts on expectations and emotional investment

I had a really interesting experience around expectations this morning.

Today I was slated to present in meeting that was anticipated to not go so well (sensitive/stressful topic). I knew going in... this might get interesting... this meeting might crash and burn... how is this not going to blow up on me? And for me and my perfectionist nature this was more than a little disconcerting... how am I going to manage the conversation so that it doesn't get sticky?

This morning as I was getting ready and thinking about the meeting, I decided that whatever the outcome of the meeting was... it was not going to define me or my day. So I consciously chose to NOT allow myself to get worked up and throw the towel in emotionally if things went bad.

So this morning I walked through my material. And you know what? It went REALLY well. Walking away from the meeting my jaw almost dropped. What on earth just happened?

As I have thought on this a little more... I realize that sometimes I put all of my "emotional" eggs in one basket.  If x doesn't go well it can completely define me for that day, crush my spirit, crash my momentum of excitement and energy. It can be anything, something at work, something for a Church calling, something in my personal life, something I am passionate about that others aren't as excited about.

It's not that I don't think we should aim to achieve goals and shoot for the stars, I just think it may be healthy to not "expect" too much, but rather be delighted when things go well (as opposed to depressed when expectations are not met.)

I read this really interesting article yesterday on tithing your time.  Here is one of my favorite quotes that really resonated with me:

"A simple example is when Callie was first born, she didn’t sleep a MINUTE the first two nights. I felt riddled with anxiety as soon as the sun would go down, thinking, “I wonder if I’ll get any sleep at all tonight.” I was hoarding my time. I was used to eight hours of sleep. I expected eight hours of sleep. I deserved eight hours of sleep. Callie was taking hours from me that were mine.
On the third night I tried something different. I thought, “Tonight I expect zero hours of sleep. I am going to have an up-all-night sleepover with my precious baby girl. We’re going to rock and dance and sing and watch some tv. And we will not sleep. If she wants to sleep I will take it as an added bonus. A gift. But I expect zero. ” And then……she did! I probably got about 4 hours. Which in new-mom-hood is HUGE. It felt like a gift. Not an expectation."
I think because I didn't "expect" for things to go flawless in the meeting this morning, and because I told myself beforehand that my abilities, talents and confidences would not be changed by the outcome of the meeting, it was a GIFT that it went so well.

I  think the verdict is still not entirely clear.  I have written before about how I always assume people/things/intentions are good, I think this generally means that through my positive nature I expect goodness. But I feel like I get burned a fair amount doing that. As I mature and grow a little, my experience has been lately to maybe hope for the good, but be cautious with your heart in setting your expectations too high. Sometimes you have to manage your emotional investment to help maintain your sanity.
Anyway. Maybe this is me losing my naivety or become a bit more jaded... but regardless it feels like an aha! moment.

1 comment:

  1. Very insightful. That is a thought that I need to learn, so thank you for sharing!


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