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Take an inventory of your expectations. Begin by thinking of what you take for granted. Start with your senses. Can you see, hear, taste, smell, and feel. This may sound silly, but there are people who have various limitations in these areas. Next, focus on your family. What are some things they do for you?

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What Do You Expect ?

Expectations allow for a continuity in functioning, and play a significant role in mental health. The early years become a foundation from which expectations are built, and are influenced by one’s temperament. Having a sense of what to expect from day to day allows one to make plans. Adults operate from an automatic framework of expectations that are not in their conscious awareness. When something unexpected occurs there is an emotional reaction. For example, if I am driving down the road and someone swerves in my lane I become angry, because I expect people to drive in their lanes. On the flip side, if someone surprises me with an unexpected gift I am overjoyed.

An expectation is defined as a strong belief something will occur in the future. For example, if one expects to have a bad day they will likely feel more stressed, and this increases the probability one will have a bad day. On the other hand, if one expects to have a good day they will be more relaxed, and better prepared to face the stressors of the day.

Healthy expectations are realistic. Realistic expectations provide a lens that give a sensible and practical perspective of what can be achieved. Some things to consider in the development of realistic expectations.

  1. Realism is not the same as pessimism. A realist can maintain optimism, while recognizing intervening factors. Some examples, “I expect my husband will receive a bonus this year, but recognize that may change if the company does not meet its goals.” “I expect my wife will have dinner ready at 6:00, but if she is having a difficult day it may be later.”
  2. Life is dynamic, ever-changing. As a result it is important for the human psyche to adjust to these changes. Some examples, “I have a close relationship with my sister, but after she gets married I expect we will not talk as often.” “Now that my daughter is an adult I expect to offer less advice as she begins to make decisions for herself.”
  3. Realistic expectations allow one to create a coping plan for potentially difficult situations. Some examples, “During the holidays I expect there may be some problems due to an over consumption of alcohol among some of my relatives. If this occurs I will avoid difficult topics, and, if necessary, leave early.” “I expect my brother-in-law will ask to borrow money again. This time I will offer to assist with groceries, and occasional transportation, but be unwilling to give money.”

Healthy expectations enable one to function with more emotional equilibrium. When the mind is calm a person can think with clarity and make better decisions. Having distorted or unreasonable expectations lays the groundwork for mental health problems. What do you expect?

The Holy Spirit Speaks

“In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33b

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