If I could have learned 25 years ago this simple fact – most of the stress we encounter comes from unrealistic expectations – I would have saved myself so much anxiety. Truly, unrealistic expectations is why people are stressed out all the time.

Ok, not all of our stress is our fault.  We stress out about difficult events we cannot control, unexpected events, things being done to us or things having been done to us, living in fear of the unknown, etc. As we get older it is easier to see that we have so little control so much of the time.

Let’s play in the expectation playground. We have different parts we play on and each piece of equipment all come with what we believe we should be experiencing.

In the area of family alone, we have expectations of each of them. We don’t expect the same from our aunt and uncle as we do our mother and father. We expect from our siblings differently than we expect from our cousins. And all of these people will be different from one person to the next and they all look diffently than our friends’ families. Some may have wonderful family members and some may not. We look at our estranged loved ones or close relatives that should be treating us well but aren’t and wonder why it isn’t different.

We expect them to be different.

We most likely aren’t doing what others in our family exactly expect of us, either.

Everyone has unrealistic expectations.

Well, Catherine, they should be doing this bar of expectations that is bottom level of standards by the average person. Yes, maybe they should be but the fact that we expect them to do something they aren’t is only going to add to our stress if we don’t release them of our expectations. It doesn’t mean they are in the right. It just releases us from the stress we allow when our expectations go unmet. This is where we give them grace and forgive them for not doing what we need. Easier said than done, I know.

This not only applies to family, this applies to spouses, friends, co-workers, neighbors, the church, our children’s schools, you get it. Where do divorces come from, or where does our friendships that are severed come from? The reason why so many don’t go to church is because somewhere along the line certain people in certain congregations wounded them. We don’t like our kid’s school so we leave it for another. When people don’t meet our expectations we have a tendency to turn away.

All of this anxiety stems from unmet, unrealistic expectations. Expectations are perfect ideas of what we think our reality with the human race should look like. Even what we think we should look like. Who can obtain perfection? No one.

It is highly important that we evaluate our expectations of ourselves while we are so busy scrutinizing everyone else and their shortcomings towards us. This needs to be done with two lenses. 1. Where are we falling short in those whose lives we touch? Can we do better? Maybe we should check in and see if we feel that maybe we need to do better. Maybe we don’t and we are truly doing the best we can give. 2. Are we too hard on ourselves? Do we expect too much of ourselves and leave no room for the grace and mercy and forgiveness we need to offer ourselves just as much as we need to offer others?

Many times when we are very critical of ourselves – we see unmet expectations we aren’t living up to and it’s frustrating. Then we see others and place high expectations on them, as well. They can’t live up to our high standards and then we are mad, resentful and frutstated with them. It’s a vicious cycle.

Life expectations. Here is a place we can also all relate to having unmet expectations. We expect to get promoted, to get married by a certain age, have a family the way we want, keep our parents until our old age, not lose the one we love the most, lose babies, lose jobs, lose our health. Perhaps these events are the reason why those who aren’t meeting our expectations is because they are dealing with thier own unrealistic expectations.

Maybe if we start to look behind other’s actions at their own inner critic making them project onto us the hurt that is inside them, we wouldn’t be upset by expectations they can’t live up to and we can live life in a less stressed state.

We can’t control our life circumstances or how people act, so what can we control? We can control the standards we have in our mind of what we expect, mourn the things that aren’t as we’d like, pray over those situations, forgive others and ourselves for not meeting our desires, and place our expectation on the One who holds great things for us.

“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.” Psalm 62:5, KJV

I know Jenny and I write through our lenses of our personal walks with God, but truly no relationship in life is like it.  We can totally pour our heart out to Father God and tell Him every little detail of our lives and expect Him to respond. Jenny and I do this, and God responds personally and beautifully in ways nothing created can do. 

Christianity isn’t a religion if it’s understood correctly. It’s a relationship with the One True God who gave us Jesus Christ. They gave us The Spirit and as we learn and lean on Him and what we know is true – He proves it. 

When we take our unmet expectations to the throneroom, we are met with compassion, love, mercy and comfort. Mix this with some wisdom that’s whispered into our soul, revelations that aren’t found elsewhere, and we find our renewed strenght in the shadow of the Almighty.

You want this? Let Jenny and I know and we’d be happy to share with you how this offer of life abundant is for you, too.

C. King