Accusation or Acceptance? Anguish or Forgiveness?
How many times in our lives have we expected something to happen or someone to come through on a promise or commitment. Maybe we have expected to be recognized for having done something a little special? When this doesn’t happen, how do we respond? I know I’ve been upset, let down and even angry on many of these occasions. Of course, with heightened emotions our behaviour can also become less than optimal making a frustrating situation even worse.
We have the whole wide range of emotions for a reason. There are no “bad feelings” like I thought growing up. It is, rather, how we choose to express our emotions can either be helpful or hurtful.
And what about the expectations we have for ourselves? All too frequently the goals, aspirations and targets we set can be thwarted, unreached or underachieved. Perhaps we fail to put in the required effort or decide the goal was too lofty or not worth the effort? At those times, negative thoughts can easily arise in the back of our mind, contributing to excessive emotions and negative behaviours. Some of us over/under eat, others over/under talk and still others turn to addictive habits (e.g. smoking, drugs, sex, exercise etc.).
As we learn, grow and mature, I like to think our expression of feelings and reactions improve. The advanced ability to address upset with humility and grace, however, is not an automatic right of passage or a quality one develops by aging. Through reading, education and practice we stand the best chance to improve. How we think about ourselves and others, when expectations are unmet, is central to both our emotional and behavioural response. When disappointment and upset surface, we can adopt positive attitudes that foster empathetic reactions.
“We are all human and are learning all the time”… “How can I do better next time?” “Some goals you reach… focus on those”
The next time you don’t reach a goal you set or someone you placed confidence in doesn’t follow through, dig deep inside your mind for an attitude or acceptance that fosters a balanced emotional state, and subsequently, wise and healthy behavioural choices. Additionally, it is important to take ownership for letting ourselves or others down, finding creative ways to reconcile the relationship.
Let us remember, healthy relationships are constructed, built up, maintained and enhanced over time. When efforts don’t match expectations we can still be polite and respectful.