Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Low Expectations

It happens more than I like to admit: someone or something raises my expectations, and then disappointment sets in when the situation doesn’t work out. I recently spoke to a friend who was let down by a mutual friend who broke promises and trust. We have all experienced the fall out that comes from having “great expectations.” I have learned from experience that having the opposite works far better.

I am not being pessimistic or overly cautious by admitting this. I just know that by not expecting too much when I meet someone for the first time or get into any particular situation without knowing all of the facts, I am protecting myself from being crushed. I know people who are so dazzled by charismatic people that come into their lives that they give their trust and believe every word they say. I have learned to be observant and a bit reserved when I meet people who seem too good to be true; I am friendly without revealing too much of myself. Even after an initial meeting, I make sure to listen to my instincts when I am getting to know someone. After all, trust is something that should be earned rather than given away like party favors. Often the desire to build friendships and romantic relationships distracts us from listening to our consciences and picking up on vibes. Most of us walk away from bad situations with just our confidence shaken; others suffer much worse. For myself, I feel more comfortable with people who consistently keep their promises, and treat other people (including myself) with respect.

Having low expectations doesn’t mean I am unfriendly or unapproachable; people who know me know I am the opposite of both. I do have my guard up and ready if I ever need it, which helps when unexpected situations arise. This requires balance which some of us are better at than others. I just tell myself and those who care to listen that it’s better to be pleasantly surprised rather than cruelly disappointed.

Do you give your trust too easily?



This is a very Scandinavian attitude! It's also the reason why Denmark is rated the happiest country. Really, the Danes are the most content because they are practical and modest in their expectations of the future and of their relationships. They don't think they'll win the lottery or get that raise or fall head over heels. Life isn't so dramatic and relationships are a slow process of building trust, as they should be. When something good happens, it's a pleasant surprise. I wish I could have this attitude toward life, it's definitely something I can work on. I find it hard to not get frustrated or disappointed with friends at times. I think I'm constantly thinking ahead or thinking of the past, comparing, building expectations, etc. I need to keep my head in the present and, I think, then I'd be able to enjoy the surprises like you.

Pauline Karakat said...

While I am proud to be an American, I have always admired the Scandinavian approach to life, especially the Danes. I wasn't thinking about it when I wrote the post, but your comment made me aware of it. I just find that having low expectations in general is a much healthier approach to life; there is so much that comes at us, so it is one less thing to stress about. Thanks for your comment! I look forward to more of them in the future!

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