Monet's Garden Path At Giverny


My children weary me. I can only see them as defective adults.
~Evelyn Waugh~

If we expect children to behave as adults, of course we will find them tiresome. If we expect water to be milk, we will be continually disappointed. But -- since we can control and direct our expectations -- why should we set ourselves up for such inevitable annoyances?

But we do.

We are constantly expecting things unreasonably, and then being disappointed, shocked, heartbroken, and betrayed. It would be so much more rational simply to take things as they come, without expectations. But that would involve a degree of detachment that most of us would find impossible -- even repulsive. It would mean unhooking our feelings from other people's behavior.

"But I care about her," we say. "Of course I want her to . . ." It doesn't much matter what we want her to do; get married, get divorced, brush her teeth at night, or come in before midnight. What matters is our involvement, our expectations. We can care about her and still not feel hurt by her actions that may not be what we want.

Hurtful actions are another matter; but she has a right to be who she is, just as we all do.

Author Unknown to me~


Because you're not what I would have you be,
I blind myself to who, in truth, you are.
~Madeleine L'Engle~

Sometimes we expect far too much of the people around us, and because no one can ever live up to those expectations, we are almost always disappointed.

Wouldn't it be better if we just let go, and let people be who they are? Then we'd be able to see them as they are -- with all their beauty and goodness in which we take joy, and with all their faults which we can also see in ourselves.

When we have put someone up on a pedestal, sculpturing them to fit our needs and desires by smoothing out the rough edges and creating new curves here and there, we cannot see the real person underneath our work. All we see is the illusion we have created. That is denying the person's real identity and is disrespectful.

It's much better for our friends and for ourselves if we drop our expectations and illusions, and accept them all just the way they are.

© 1996 Hazelden Foundation
from the books The Promise of a New Day and Today's Gift


 The Amazing Mathematical Formula
For Emotional Pain

Contrary to popular opinion ... expecting the impossible of ourselves is not motivational. It is suicidal. This is not to be confused with expecting the best of ourselves, or believing in ourselves, or even believing that we can be and do and have what we once thought impossible.

Simply: In any given moment we are who we are; We have what we have. Expecting it to be different in that moment is certain pain.


It's math. When we take the risk of bringing our expectations in line with our present tense reality (This is called self compassion), new energy becomes available to us. This is the energy previously consumed by the pain. Once released to us, how we choose to invest that energy is an important personal decision. And beware: It is easy enough (even reflexive) to reinvest in emotional pain. The pain is familiar.

The more difficult and more courageous choice is to invest that energy in a daily practice of self compassion. This choice will feel awkward, even contrived or fake, at first-- like a right handed person learning to be left handed. The more awkward the experience, the more self compassion is needed.

Try using this information to change the math of your life.

~Thom Rutledge~