Expectations vs Hope.
This has been a struggle for many people. The odd thing is that many never even realize it.
I’ll start with the meanings of the words.
Simple Definition of expectation
: a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen
: a feeling or belief about how successful, good, etc., someone or something will be
Simple Definition of hope
: to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true
On the surface these seem almost one and the same. But when we dive a little deeper, and put them in perspective with how people see them or use them, we can start to see our problems.
When we mix these two up, we can really be in for some shocks and serious disappointments. When we place expectations on our hopes. We rob ourselves of some great things. What I’m talking about is when we have a visual in our minds of something that we hope will happen. Now I’ll refer you back to the definitions. One is believe something will happen vs. wanting something to happen. One is like holding the cardboard tube left after wrapping presents and looking through it. Its very limiting as to what we can see. Our field of view is extremely limited. But if we hold up the wide angle lens of hope we may see the trail we need to take, but we also see the side paths and things along the sides. This gives us perspective to any situation.
Now the havoc that expectations can have on your hope can be devastating to how you view life. I will give you just a small example I have had. The very first hiking trip I went on. I had planned out my route it was about a 6.5 mile hike mostly down hill to get to a 300 foot water fall in Arkansas. I got started late. I had never been to this place before, I had never hiked over night, let alone by myself. I got a late start and was about 4 miles in when I realized I wasn’t going to make the falls by dark. I decided to set up camp for the night. After looking at my map I see that I had to cover about 8.5 miles to get there and back to the truck. At this point I realized I was not going to make the falls at all. I had ran out of time plus I was seriously questioning my ability to get out. It was a rough hike, 2 miles with 1,500 feet of elevation to get out. Yes that’s 2 miles all up hill…. Remember it was all down hill in so up hill out. Needless to say I made it out, well I’m writing this so, go figure. I couldn’t walk straight for 2 days, remember I had carried a 50 pound pack the whole time. I was mad, I was disappointed, I had expected to get to the falls and get some great photos, instead I got nothing, or so I thought. I had let my expectations dictate my attitude when I seemingly failed to get where I had expected I would. After some retrospective thought, I found, I still had a good time, I still did something not many people would go do. I had a white tail deer walk 10 feet from me right through my camp site. I had a river otter just 15 feet from me as I ate my breakfast. Plus I had pushed myself to get out. Yes it was that hard, at times I began to wonder if I could make it. See all the cool adventures my expectations stole from my trip? If I had kept my hope instead of placed my expectations on it I would have been able to enjoy the trip at the time. I know this is just a small issue but I wanted to show you that even in small things we can cloud the two.
Now when you start placing expectations on other people, we get into some real trouble. Look at it this way. In your past you grew up with your mom doing certain jobs around the house, or a dad that knew how to fix things and work on equipment. You ate dinner together or at a certain time. Now with out even realizing it you have a set of expectations on your own future husband or wife. We almost always expect people to do things the way we always have. Now what if you get married and your husband can’t work on things, he wasn’t raised that way, or that his mom cooked chicken every Thursday. Now when that doesn’t happen what goes through your mind? An expectation has now been missed, now what happens? Irritation or anger even, most of the time we will feel some sort of irritation that we can’t really put a reason to. It just doesn’t set right with you. Over time these start to have an affect on how you see your partner.
With some of the men I have talked to or written to in articles, I tell them to do things for their wife with out having any expectations. Here is what I mean. KISS HER!!! At some point in the week give her a good 15-30 second kiss, then turn and walk past her with an I love you or something affectionate. Do it with no expectations of anything later on in the night. Or another one. Clean the house, do the dishes, do some house work, anything that might be on her never ending to-do list. Do it with out expectations of a payment later. As a man we will all hope it sparks something in her to get something going later, but if we put our expectations on that we will be disappointed later if nothing happens. But if we just keep it as a hope and nothing happens we can still be happy that we assisted her or took something off her already over long list. The missed expectations in that situation can be really bad. Just picture it. He is expecting some sort of action as she climbs into bed, but she is tired and has to get up really early. He lays there mad, thinking “Well that’s the last time I go out of my way to help her.” Now if that’s done over and over you can see the damage that can have in a relationship. Learning to keep your expectations and hopes in check or even separate, are pretty important. The other thing is actually voicing your expectations. If you get irritated with someone for a way they did something or didn’t do something, talk about it, ask them about it, don’t just let it build and get worse, but do it in a safe calm way, no yelling or accusing.
Think about the things we say sometimes. They can really reveal if your expectations are whats hurting you or if you have misplaced expectations and hope. One I have heard a lot is. “This is not where I saw myself.” “This wasn’t supposed to be my life.” “ I never imagined my life like this.” Then we get into the more specific stuff of small things like. “You fold clothes that way??” In a smart demeaning voice. “My dad always did _________ why can’t you be that way.” Or worse being compared to a past relationship. The thing to remember is we are all different, we all come from different backgrounds and ways of doing things. First off, I challenge anyone that is in their 40’s to tell me their life is just like they imagined it would be in their 20’s or even 30’s. I’m guessing none or very close.
Just being aware of what your hopes are and what your expectations in life are can really help you keep them in the right place. Not only that but it can help you recognize when one is out of place, it can help you get them back in place. Just seeing it is a huge step. Realizing when your expectations are out of whack is a very big thing and it will go along way into building good healthy relationships.