It was Christmas, we had a lot of kids and we were poor. Each year, one child would receive a special gift, one that was more expensive and more desired than all the other gifts.
This year it was my turn, sure enough under the tree was a large gift. It was obviously a hard case for a musical instrument. I was so excited, I knew exactly what it was.
For weeks I watched that case and finally a name appeared on it. OH YES! It was mine. My life was going to be complete, I would prove to the world what a musical genius I was. My parents loved me, it was proven right there. They had finally gotten me the perfect gift.
The anticipation was incredible, my parents saved that large gift for last. We all opened our new underwear, pajamas, new homeschool curriculum (did I mention we were poor), books, a little bit of candy and now it was time. I was shaking as my dad carefully brought me the gift.
I slowly started unwrapping it. My siblings were begging me to hurry, when I opened the case the tears immediately began to flow. It was a trombone. A shiny, brass, disgusting trombone. My soul was overwhelmed and I felt lost. I knew my parents didn’t have the money to spend on an unwanted gift. My dad quietly asked why I was crying, I lied and told him it was because I was happy.
What was so horrible about a trombone? Nothing. I had expected a saxaphone. A beautiful, shiny, sexy saxaphone. A trombone was not sexy, it played horrible music. If memory serves I never played a note on that trombone, my dad was disappointed because he never got the family brass ensemble he desired. It was an invaluable life lesson about the power of expectations and, at times the need to keep them low.
If you have an ex who is difficult to co-parent with or has narcissistic tendencies, keeping low expectations can save you a lot of pain and heartache. Lowering our expectations actually is not a reflection of your ex at all. It is a proactive measure we need to take so our lives will improve.
5 Reasons You Should Keep Your Expectations Low:
1. It reduces your level of stress. We get upset, angry, frustrated and sometimes cry when our expectations are not met. Lowering our expectations means we will be disappointed less often. We will eliminate that stress from our lives.
2. It creates peace in your home. When I was separated/newly divorced my home felt like a war zone. We were all trying to adjust to a new life while being constantly attacked and emotionally bombed by the opposite party. When I lowered my expectations, I was able to effectively teach my children to lower their expectations. We no longer walk around on pins and needles, we know the attacks are coming, we take them in stride. We accept this is part of our life and we don’t expect it to change.
3. Lowering expectations is an act of love. Lower expectations do NOT equal apathy. I think some of us are under the misconception that if we lower our expectations it means we don’t care about ourselves or our loved ones. The opposite is true. When my son was diagnosed with cancer, I had to lower my expectations of our life.
How much stress would have been in our home if I expected him to be the same child on chemotherapy and ill that he was when he was healthy? That would be cruel and abusive. I lowered my expectations because I loved him. The same is true in my divorce; I lowered my expectations of my ex because I love my children and wanted to guide them as we all adjusted to our new lives.
4. Lower expectations allow me to have a plan of action. Lower expectations does not equal NO expectations. It simply means, evaluate the situation and set realistic expectations. I require my ex to communicate in writing, all the time. I do not expect him to follow that rule without throwing a huge fit every once in a while. When I know the fit is coming sooner or later, I can be more proactive.
Instead of getting angry when he starts yelling at me, or having our children relay messages, I simply send him a text and tell him I would be glad to respond to anything we need to discuss via email or text. Every single time.
5. Lower expectations put me in control. One simple mindset adjustment takes me from being reactive and living a life of emotional chaos and allows me the privilege of being proactive with the ability to control my life and my situations.
I am not able to control my ex; I don’t try to control him. I don’t want to control him because then he would be able to try and control me. What I am able to control is my life, my emotions, my reactions, my decisions, my home and my joy. All of that is a direct result of lowering my expectations, setting realistic boundaries and finding my own joy.