Unrealistic Expectations & Realistic Disappointment

By JoJo Ossmen

This morning, as my husband went to go play basketball, I was left at our apartment with our German Shepard Mira; who, as of late, has been quite the little stink. To add to this, she loves Brandon. He is her human, so when Brandon leaves, she turns into this crazy needy puppy that seems to want to do anything but hang out. This is why today, when Brandon left, and Mira (although I love her) started whining out the wazoo, I could think of nothing but leaving. All that I wanted to do was run for the hills and escape this situation that I was in no way ready to tackle. So I left, I got in the car and drove to Starbucks, to write in my journal and figure out what the heck to do with our puppy that apparently I could not be around.

Why did I feel this way? Why do I genuinely struggle with our puppy, which I should love always? Regardless of her recent acts (which are very real reasons to not like any dog) there was a deeper explanation as to why I couldn’t stand being left with her; I have placed an unrealistic expectation on her, that, in this moment, she is not ever going to reach.

When I left the apartment I got to Starbucks (because the new holiday mochas are out and no one who has tried them can stay away!) and I took out the book Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst; and ironically (or more likely not ironically at all) stumbled across this:
“We must respect ourselves enough to break the pattern of placing unrealistic expectations on others…. Some of our biggest disappointments in life are the result of expectations we have of others that they can’t possibly meet.”     

It hit me like a brick. I have this expectation of Mira to be this all loving, perfectly behaved, anxiety-soothing dog. This is what I want her to be, not who she is. Although, sometimes, when Brandon is home and she cuddles up next to me she is the amazing pup living up to the expectations I have put on her. But when Brandon leaves she freaks out just as much as I do, and there is no way she is going to be this perfectly loving and behaved dog.

Before we got married, I was rarely ever alone with her. She lived with Brandon and I was this random girl who would come over and play. So realistically she is getting used to being alone with me just as I am with her, and to hold this expectation of her is not only unrealistic, but leaves me feeling rejected and angry at her.

It also it hit me that, this is something occurring not only with her but others. How many times have we been hurt because someone we care deeply for does not follow through with something that we have made up in our minds that they need to do? Something that even if we did tell them (which usually these expectations are never spoken out loud) they might not have naturally just gone and done anyways?

Exhibit A: The dishes. I grew up blessed with a dishwasher and 5 other siblings to help load and unload said dishwasher. I am also a stress cleaner. Which means the dishes that are left in the sink don’t usually stay there for more than a day or two. But for some reason, I placed this expectation (never actually spoken to my husband) that I wanted him to jump to the dishes every opportunity he had of free time, any time there was a dish in the sink. Then I would get upset when he failed to do this. Realistically, he does do the dishes, not every moment like I wanted him to, but when he gets the chance to get to them before I do, he does them. Until I looked at this way, I was continually setting myself up for rejection and anger when he did not follow through with my plans.

“Unrealistic expectations leads to realistic disappointment.”

Being realistic with those around you is such a calmer and happier place to be, and I am saying this as someone who definitely struggled with this today. I am learning to do this every day, and it may not be something I master, but I do know that if practiced, it is something that I can become better at. Next time you feel rejected or let down by someone or something that you care deeply for, take a step back, assess the situation and decide if this is something that is realistic.

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