“You are your own worst enemy. If you can learn to stop expecting impossible perfection, in yourself and others, you may find the happiness that has always eluded you.”
You’ve had a tough, long day at work. You’re driving home and envisioning walking in the door, leaving the stress of the day at the door, and having dinner ready on the table. But when you walk in, no one has started preparing dinner. Your chest immediately tightens; your patience disappears, and your anger rises.
Expectations are powerful.
We plan out the future in our minds and create viable options for whichever scenario unfolds. Expectations are a method of comforting ourselves and creating a false sense of control over an unknown situation. However, when our expectations aren’t met, we’re often left with disappointment, resentment, sadness, and anger – the infamous feelings that give expectations such a bad reputation.
We’ve all heard the phrases “don’t get your hopes up” and “if you don’t have any expectations, you won’t be disappointed.” Another common one is “should”: “I should have eaten better today” or “I should be able to handle all of this.” Each of these phrases sends the following false messages about expectations:
But what if the problem didn’t lie in the expectation itself, but rather in how we were dealing with it?
We can’t change our brain’s ability to create expectations, but we can change what we do with them and how much power we give them. Instead of avoiding expectations out of fear, we can focus on learning how to better manage our expectations and use them in a positive, constructive, and healthy manner.
Resolve Counseling & Wellness
"Imagine all the people living life in peace. you may say i'm a dreamer, but i'm not the only one. I hope some day you'll join us and the world will live as one." - john lennon, "Dreamer"
This post was supposed to be published on February 15, the day after Valentine’s Day. However, what I had planned to talk about in regards to this day was washed off the table when yet another mass shooting in a school took the lives of over 15 people. More than fifteen people who went to school that morning, children who said goodbye to their parents for the last time, husbands who kissed their wives and said “see you after school”, and children who had their last kiss from their dads before they went to work that day.
So, this post is different than expected. Because instead of talking about how to move on from this special day of the month and keep loving growing in your relationship despite Valentine’s Day being over, we are talking about the lives of people who did not ask to die.
Please do not mistake this as a political post. Rather, it is a post to remind you that there are many different types of love and that romantic love or the lack of romantic love is not the only thing we should focus on.
We take relationships for granted, or at least I have. I haven’t called my parents as much as I should, I didn’t call my grandmothers much before they passed, I didn’t make an intention to let my friends, brothers, colleagues, and everyone else’s path I meet know how much they meant to me and how grateful I was for their presence in my life.
Love is one of few constants among cultures. Hugs, smiles, words of affirmation, things you do for someone else, etc. are ways that you can see love being expressed. There’s love that you have for your family, love for your children, the love you have for your spouse or significant other. There is the love that you have for your pet, your parents, and the love you have for life. Savor those relationships and experiences. As we have learned and continue to learn, trauma does not discriminate. It does not take a certain age, a certain population, a certain race. It does look at what you’ve done right or wrong or how many times you’ve gone to church this year. Trauma impacts everyone. And if you’re lucky enough to not had a traumatic event in your life, you know someone who does. So, it’s time to start acting like we have a lot to lose. Because we do.
Spread love around:
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT
Millennial Life Coach
"I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” ― Brené Brown
When working with couples in marriage counseling, one of the most common statements I hear is that they don't spend enough time together and need to schedule more time. However, life gets in the way and work, children, and outside responsibilities soon fill our calendar. Then, I'll see the couple a week later without having spent any "quality time" together. While I do think it is important to make time for date nights, it is not the only way to start connecting more with your partner. There are opportunities every day to show one another your love.
Why Connecting Everyday Matters
Love and relationships are like any living thing. They need daily nurturing and care to live. If we don't take time in daily moments to show love to our partner, the relationship can begin to starve. When we don't see love regularly, we begin to question if it is still there.
This comes across in several ways. Sometimes we start to nag or criticize our partner to get any response possible. Sometimes the only interactions we seem to have are negative, so we start to withdraw to try and avoid fights. We can also dive into work or projects that we gain satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment from because we feel like our relationship is failing. And finally, sometimes partners find connection in another person, either emotionally or physically, through affairs. Frequently, couples come in saying that the love just "went away." What I find, however, is that the love wasn't gone, it just hadn't been seen in quite some time. That date night kept being put off, bills, work, and kids ate up more time, and in the meantime, there were no small connections along the way to show that the love was still there.
Finding Opportunities to Connect
I want to start by saying this is understandably not easy. Couples who are struggling to connect on a daily basis typically have extremely busy schedules. Kids, as much as we love them, can also make it more difficult to find time and energy to connect to our partners. Lastly, if there have been many hurts in the relationship to this point, it might be difficult to even want to connect in a loving manner. If this is the case, additional work should be done to strengthen the relationship, possibly through marriage and couple counseling, before you try to push yourselves into something you're not ready for.
In a previous article, I discussed the importance of hello and goodbye. These two moments are opportunities every day to show your partner you love them and will either miss them when leaving or are excited to see them when you return. This is not a time to simply run out the door saying you love each other, or to return by gliding past your partner on the way to the couch or bedroom. Keeping in mind that this could be the last time you ever see each other, you should make it a priority to really engage each other when saying goodbye. And, thinking of how a child or pet are excited to see you when you come home, attempt to show a similar level of excitement to see your partner after a long day. Sometimes this takes practice in order to leave our day behind us and start fresh when we get home.
Additionally, look at times you are doing activities apart, and see if there is opportunity to do them together. Are you both watching different shows in separate rooms? Could you find a show you agree on and watch together? When one person is doing laundry or dishes, could the other step in and help? This can be an opportunity to show your partner you not only love them, but support them in household chores, and it is a time that typically stimulates conversation. If one person needs to run and errand, can the other tag along? The point here is not that we need to spend every waking hour together, but that there are times everyday that we can spend ten minutes together, and that time goes a long way to showing our partner they are loved.
James McMillian, LCPC
Resolve - Counseling & Wellness
8340 Mission Rd Ste 230
Prairie Village, KS 66206