Expectations and Disappointment (7-Minute Read)

Expectations and disappointment Expect nothing appreciate everything
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Connie Pretula

Connie Pretula is an inspiring health coach and Menopause Navigator to mature women, using a holistic approach to nutrition and life.

September 6, 2023

I believe expectations can be some of the hard lessons of life. When I think back at some of my biggest disappointments, most of them were due to my expectations. Also, I have disappointed many people in my life because I have not met their expectations.

Some say we are allowed to have expectations. True to a certain extent but where to draw the line.

You might be asking yourself, why is she talking about expectations, she’s a nutritionist! This is where the holistic part comes in.

I will often say that nutrition is the foundation of health. Giving guidance on what ingredients to use and providing recipes to change eating habits is the easy part. Understanding why someone makes certain food and lifestyle choices, that is the hard part.

I believe, what a person puts in their mouth is connected to the voice inside. Each day, sometimes each moment, can bring on thoughts that have a person reaching for comfort or disconnection in the form of food.

Let’s get back to expectations.

I have finally learned to not have expectations of people, it has taken most of my life to get there. Everyone has something they are working through and that can affect the way they show up in any given situation. Sometimes people feel they need to act a certain way when they are in public or say things to people to make them feel good. This can cause people to have expectations. For example, running into someone I have not seen in a while and they say, we should get together soon. My expectation can be that they will call or message me to set a date to get together, when I don’t hear from them, I am disappointed. Adjusting my expectations and realizing they may have said that to be nice, which takes away any disappointment. They may be expecting me to contact them and are disappointed they haven’t heard from me.

I believe there is a connection with expectations, assumptions, and manipulation. This is sometimes a very unpopular point of view.

Sometimes people go out of their way to help others, unfortunately, these actions can come with expectations and when they are not met, the person will tell me how I disappointed them. In this case, I see expectations and assumptions being connected. The other person assumed if they helped me, I would automatically help them back. I have now learned to either decline the help or ask if I can compensate them for their time. Not everyone will be upfront about their expectations but at least I asked.

When it comes to manipulation, when I was younger, I experienced situations where the other person was being really nice or sweet and accommodating. I got caught up in how they were treating me, then realized there was an expectation connected to their treatment which led to them being disappointed. Sometimes, it ended a friendship.

I mentioned to a friend as a scenario, our moms are great at having expectations, they can also be the masters of manipulation. And who wants to disappoint Mom!

But what about the expectations of ourselves, do those cause bigger disappointments?

I can expect myself to be truthful, and kind. The truthful part is easy, I remember lying to my grade 3 teacher about why I was late, she accepted my excuse. She then told my parents about my excuse, I don’t recall any punishment but I was very embarrassed. I realized at a young age that I am a terrible liar and needed to stick to the truth.

I will admit, I do fail at the kind part at times. In most cases, it’s when I’m calling a company for customer service. I can get very frustrated when the rep is not helpful and I can tell they are reading a standard reply. I then need to remind myself, they only work for the company and many companies today really lack when it comes to customer care. It helps when I don’t have expectations when calling customer service departments.

I have a constant struggle with perfection, it is an expectation I put on myself with most of what I do. When I’m writing, I am constantly rereading what I have written. Have I put my thoughts in the right context? Am I focusing on my thoughts and feelings rather than projecting. I have finally gotten to a point where I reach out to someone I trust to talk about how my perfectionism is holding me back. This one is a work in progress…

A friend told me once that my level of perfection made them feel uncomfortable when they visited. I want to make everything perfect for so they can sit back and relax. It hurt when they told me that because I thought I was making them feel special. Funny thing is, they do the same thing when I am at their house. We were both trying to make the other feel special, we put high expectations on ourselves and in the end, we didn’t meet them on either side. What is unfortunate is, we are so focused on how they are trying to make everything perfect that we miss out on being in the moment and truly enjoying our time together.

When a prospect contacts me, one of the questions I ask is, do they have a weight loss goal and if so, do they have a date they want to lose it by? If the answer is yes and they tell me how many weeks, I tell them I am not the right person for them. Their expectation of weight loss will overshadow most of what I am trying to help them change by implementing new lifestyle habits. Incorporating new habits takes time and seeing how someone’s body is responding to changes can take time.

A past client I worked with a number of years ago said they wanted to improve their health. One of the habits I was working on with them was encouraging them to eat 3 times a day. Their current habit was eating once a day, late in the evening. Gradually they managed to eat three meals a day. This was important as it helped their energy, stopped the late-night overeating, they slept better and their body trusted it would receive nourishment on a regular basis.

After a couple of weeks, they commented on their disappointment of not losing any weight yet. Even though they said they didn’t have a weight loss goal, that was their underlying unspoken expectation. When I went over all of the habits we had changed and how much better they felt every day, plus they were eating more and not gaining weight, they still did not see the benefit because they had not lost weight. I was not meeting their expectation.

I’ve also had clients tell me that they feel like they may fail again which is connected to their expectations of themselves. Feeling like they have failed leads to guilt and for many, it can lead to not doing anything at all. Many will return to the popular eating fad being touted as the solution to everything that has failed before. Society, mainstream media and social media feed us with expectations of following the latest trend and look a certain way. Expectations can be the killer of motivation and confidence.

So how do we manage expectations? I will share what I have done. When I am offering to do something for others, I take a moment to think about why I am doing it. I like to help people, it is naturally who I am. That’s where it ends.

If I give someone something, I have to give it with a completely open heart. I know sometimes I go a bit overboard when showing my appreciation. The smallest gift or courtesy can mean more than a grandiose gesture.

When it comes to my expectations of me, I remind myself that life is a journey of learning and growing. I also have learned to be aware of the voice in my head. One of my favourite books for this is The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, it’s one I recommend to my clients and one on my reread list as a good reminder.

Communication is another important component of managing expectations, asking a lot of questions helps, sometimes as simple as, “what are your expectations of me”.

There is so much going on in the world on a daily basis and one of the best ways for me to get through each day is to be kind to myself and what I expect of myself, and that in itself, is an expectation. I take each day as it comes and at the end of the day, I thank my heart for continuing to beat without me even asking and by the grace of God, I will be given another day.

Thank you for reading my words.

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