April 23, 2018, 7:56 am
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Managing expectations and disappointments (1)

I’ve never met a person who hasn’t lied. But that doesn’t make lying ok. 

I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t been disappointed. But being disappointed is ok. It’s normal. It’s part of life. We just have to learn how to manage it, and use it for good. 

Expectations and disappointments are conjoined twins. Or regular siblings handcuffed together for life. 

Any normal person has expectations of oneself and others. The question is — are our expectations too low, mediocre, sinusuwerte (a Purely Pinoy brand of expectation), sinister, hallucinatory, realistic, off the charts, or simply out of whack? Make sure your expectations are realistic.  
The more unrealistic our expectations, 
the more we will suffer when they’re not met. The more they’ll stir up unsavory emotions in us — like a frothy, foul cauldron of witches’ brew that carries its stench everywhere we go. 

For example, don’t expect a stone-hearted person to be suddenly compassionate. It’s just not logical. Save your exasperation for something else. Don’t expect your children to achieve what you weren’t able to. Or to succeed as much as you have. That’s not fair. They have their own lives to live. 

The worst progression is this: 

1) We have expectations.

2) We sometimes we get disappointed. 

3) This disappointment turns into resentment, anger, rage, hate, or bitterness. A poison that corrupts our relationship with God and others. 

4) Sometimes we want our pound of flesh. We want revenge. 

5) Our disappointments turn us into ugly, mean, bitter people. 6) And we eventually die lonely, miserable, alone. 

Sounds like a macabre fairy tale, right? Sadly, it’s not just a fairy tale. It happens all the time. Every single day. If you’ve been to a class reunion lately, just listen to the multiple conversations swirling around you. You’ll know who’s loved and happy. You’ll know who’s lonely, bitter, and alone (even if surrounded by people). 

One thing is certain: when disappointment devolves into something worse, it always wounds us...deeply. And more often than not, it also wounds those around us.

That’s why we have to learn to manage our expectations. And we have to learn to turn our disappointments into appointments with God. Believe me, this isn’t just a play on words. Or me just trying to sound clever. 

Remember: Every disappointment is an appointment with God.

1. When we invest something (time, talent, energy, resources), we must always be clear on what our motive is. Who are we doing this for? What is our desired outcome? Why are we investing? How much will we invest? What are our parameters for success? When do we stop
investing if the expected returns don’t come in? 

2. Before investing in someone or something, we must look at the worst-case scenario: Can I live with it? If you cannot, don’t invest. 

3. You have to do your due diligence, your background checks — is this person trustworthy? What’s his track record? What do others (who’ve worked closely with this person) say about him? Does he have integrity? Does he fear and love God? If you have a choice, invest in and work with people who share your faith, your values, your priorities. 

4. If circumstances are beyond your control and you have to work with people who don’t share your values (like if you’re employed in a company or organization), then decide beforehand that you will not compromise your personal values. Instead, influence others to uphold your values. But do not expect them to think and act according to your values. If they do, that’s a bonus! 

5. If you’re the boss, define clearly what your expectations are, and what the consequences are if they’re not met. Define your time line. Define the standards of quality you expect. Define the kind of work attitudes and team work you expect. Define the things that are unacceptable
 to you: dishonesty, lack of integrity, divisiveness, corruption, covering up mistakes, claiming credit for someone else’s work, mediocrity, laziness, irresponsibility, sabotaging people and their work, entitlement, work cliques, etc. Always remind your people of the consequences of falling short of these expectations. But also remind them constantly, of the rewards and additional support they can expect from you if they meet your expectations. 

6. If people aren’t your staff or employees, do not impose your standards and preferences on them. For example, if you’re the kind of person who is thoughtful and makes it a point to show your gratitude to those who’ve helped you, don’t expect the same kind of thoughtfulness and gratitude from others. You’ll just get disappointed. There are people who are just not big on showing gratitude. Maybe they’re proud, entitled, lack GMRC, or are just plain ungrateful. Who knows? But don’t waste your time feeling bitter that they’re ungrateful. Instead, think about all the good things they’ve done for you. Think about all their good qualities. Look at their ungratefulness as a weakness they need to work on. All of us have weaknesses and sinful attitudes that we need to correct. But don’t excuse them for their wrong behavior. See it for what it is — and use it as a reminder to yourself not to do the same thing to others! The lesson: don’t reward ungratefulness. Draw that  boundary next time. All things being equal, choose to give to the grateful person. 

7. If you’re investing in a person like your  spouse, your children, your close friends, think: what if, at the end of the day, they waste what I’ve invested in them? What if my spouse mistreats me or becomes unfaithful or wreaks havoc on our marriage — even if I give it my 100%?

What if my kids grow up to be selfish, thoughtless adults who won’t take care of me when I’m old and helpless? What if my business partner cheats on me when our business succeeds, or puts up his own company and pirates my best people? What if my boyfriend/girlfriend dumps me for someone else — after everything I’ve done for him/her, after everything I’ve sacrificed for this relationship? What if my best friend betrays me? What if my boss doesn’t appreciate me, doesn’t give me credit for work I’ve done? What if my boss just thinks of himself and doesn’t give me fair compensation — even if I’ve saved his face so many times? What if the very people I’ve helped, and stuck out my neck for, betray me? Or forget what I did for them? What then? Will I let this affect me negatively for the rest of my life? 

Sometimes, people don’t just disappoint us. They bury us. That’s when we need to rise above the ashes of betrayal or ungratefulness. 

How? By asking God to even up the score. he’ll do it because he’s all-just. Ask God to use the good we’ve done, in whatever way he can, to bless others. Goodness is goodness, no matter what people do to make it bad. 

8. When we’re disappointed, we need to ask ourselves: Why? Is it because my ego was deflated? Because I didn’t get what I wanted? Because it didn’t enhance my status, reputation, personal interests? If the answer is yes, then recognize that you’re disappointed because of selfish interests. You’ll get over it faster. 

9. If you’re disappointed because your work standards weren’t met, or because moral standards weren’t met — then change what’s changeable. Fire, reassign or transfer that person. Liquidate the business partnership (a friend of mine did this and was relieved of years of stress).

Stop investing time, trust and affection on a friend who’s doing you more harm than good.

10.  If it’s your spouse or children or permanent fixtures in your life who have disappointed you, then whatever good you’ve done for them, and will do for them — tell God, “Lord, this one’s for You! I’m doing this for you.” Just make sure you’re not enabling them or rescuing them as a habit. God won’t honor that. You’ll surely suffer the consequences. 

One of the most mind-boggling promises of God is this: if we do what’s right and what’s good for his sake, then no matter what happens, he will surely reward us. Guaranteed. Even if the people we’ve been good to are totally ungrateful or mean or foolish. God sees all the good things we do, and He Himself will reward us, if we do it for Him! It’s all in our motive: WHO are we doing it for? 

This is God’s tremendous promise, one of my all-time favorites: “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.”  (Colossians 3:23-24) 

When you do good things with,  and for people, whatever you do — do it for God. He will surely reward you, even if people won’t appreciate you or reward you. 

Put all your expectations on Him because he will never fail you. And let him use your disappointments to give you wisdom, humility, and character. This way, even if your expectations aren’t met, even if you’re disappointed, you still win.
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