Disappointed Recently? Maybe It’s You.
My husband rarely makes coffee.
So when he came up the stairs yesterday holding a steaming gift of liquid addiction, I was thrilled.
This morning I heard his same pre-dawn rustlings around the kitchen.
And like Pavlov’s dog, I slowly sat up in bed, pulled the comforter to my waist, and waited patiently for the sweet smell of vanilla roast to come wafting through the house.
“Good morning,” he said as he entered the bedroom.
“Good morning,” I replied, barely making eye contact as I scanned for a mug.
At that moment I felt a surge run over me.
It wasn’t anger.
It was disappointment.
An expectation unmet.
Funny how that happens, isn’t it?
How quickly we assume someone else will behave a certain way – often failing to communicate our expectations directly – only to find ourselves let down when they fall short.
In worst case scenarios, we really do get mad.
Case in point: I was chatting with a friend the other day who met a guy the night before.
“I gave him my number, but he hasn’t called,” she told me.
“It’s only been, like, 14 hours,” I said. “Maybe he’s at work and planning to call you this evening.”
She rolled her eyes.
“Who knows. I don’t even care.”
She DID care. In fact, she cared so much that she created a narrative in her head that had him on the phone first thing that morning – probably before he had his coffee – asking her out.
Truthfully, I’m not sure if he called or not.
But, assuming he did, I guarantee the conversation went something like this.
Guy: “Hi. It’s me. We met last night. How are you?”
Friend: After a long, punishing silence, she responds in feigned indifference, “Oh, hi.”
I’ll spare you the rest of my faux dialogue. Point being, I’m sure the energy she brought to the conversation was different than if she hadn’t stage directed an epic love story in her head and measured this poor guy’s behavior against it.
It’s an easy trap for sure.
Hello – I did the same thing this morning, only my drug was caffeine instead of romance.
Regardless, it’s also a dangerous trap.
Because when you see people and situations as you wish they were instead of as they are, you’re setting yourself up for constant disappointment.
So if you expect something, say it.
If you don’t say it, then don’t get irked.
My friend and fellow mindfulness coach Debra Hickok calls this “clean communication” and it applies to husbands, dates, friends, parents, coworkers, direct reports…okay, everyone.
The bottom line is that it’s up to them to manage their own behavior – and it’s up to you to determine whether it’s acceptable or not.
Still… as you’re making those decisions, remember to evaluate based on real facts and not any uncommunicated expectations swimming around in your head.
That’s why I just smiled at my husband as he got ready this morning.
And made my own vanilla roast.