Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Telling the Truth Tuesday: managing expectations

My expectations can get me into so much trouble. If I get too excited about something, I know something will happen to disappoint me. If I go the opposite direction and think negatively about something, I feel bad. Over the years, I've tried to have no expectations. Somehow that makes it easier for me to go with the flow, whichever way the flow goes. Like when I went to Greece a few years ago. The main attraction I wanted to see was the Parthenon. When we arrived, there was a strike going on and the Parthenon was closed. Couldn't see it. I was very disappointed. But it was manageable because I didn't allow myself to be overly excited about seeing it in the first place. Does that make sense?

The other thing I'm learning about expectations is that they are tied in with strong emotions. And because of my childhood, my emotions are highly charged. If I don't catch myself, which I'm learning to do more and more, I can react to every event as if it is a matter of life and death. Changing these lifelong patterns isn't easy, but it is so worthwhile. Yes, even if I spent tons of money to travel somewhere and don't get to see an important site, it is not life and death. Disappointing, yes. But not tragic.

Guess I'm becoming a grown-up.
How about you?


Suze said...

Hi, Karen. We're both up together in the wee hours. I can picture you in your beautiful home, maybe brewing a cup of tea before writing this post. Just wanted to let you know I read it and am throwing out a filament of connection. Much love.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

It's not easy to change lifelong patterns but it definitely is doable. I like your approach of managing your expectations rather than having them too high or too low. Have a beautiful day Karen :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've always been really even-keeled, so I don't get really excited about anything. Most of my expectations are just as even. Which means I'm pleasantly surprised more often than not. Think that's a good place to be!

Jerry n Kimberly Peterson said...

We were just discussing this topic last night over a campfire and glass of wine. We both have high expectations but reality always falls short and we are deeply disappointed.

Having a really rough childhood as well as adulthood life we changed from stinking thinking to dreaming. We thought it was a good thing but now are wondering if it really is good after all since we ALWAYS get disappointed when reality sets in.

It's now hard to give up dreaming and hoping for great things but every time we do we get slapped with our reality which is not even close to what we had hoped and planned.

Something to think about for today, thank you for awakening what lies deep within our souls!

Karen Walker said...

Suze - one of the things I love about you is your turn of phrase "filament of connection" - that's exquisite. And so is your photo, my dear.
Keith, thanks - and you, too - have a wonderful day I mean.
Alex, that is exactly how my husband is and I envy you both - that's wonderful
Jerry n Kimberly, glad if my musings can help in some way.

Robin said...

Have I told you that I have been doing Tapping as part of my therapy? If not, Tapping is phenomenal. Instead of what usually happens in therapy... talking something to death, but not actually resolving anything... Tapping helps to release it. As in really let it go. It being the emotional response that events in our past cause us to still feel when we think about them. Tapping is not a Memory Eraser, but it takes the sting out of the memory. After tapping something out successfully I just don't get emotionally worked up about it any longer. I recognize that it was a Lousy Thing, but I am not emotionally wrecked by it every time I think about it.

I recommend Tapping for anyone who had a difficult childhood or went through something extremely painful. When you don't have that emotional charge coming out of nowhere and attacking you (because it is still tied to an old experience) you don't have to worry so much about trying to maintain an even keel. You actually become even keeled. And then it is safer to get excited about future events. If it doesn't work out, well it doesn't work out and you experience that disappointment. What you don't experience is that disappointment along with every other disappointment crashing in on it (reminding you that your life is sucky and you should never get excited about anything).

Yeah, I know what you are saying about past trauma determining your current life. But it does NOT have to be that way. Look into tapping. It might help and can't hurt. ((Hugs))

Mason Canyon said...

The first of your post sounds like me. If I get my hopes up about something, I know it won't happen. I'm trying to do better about getting my hopes up about things - so I'm trying to grow up too.

D.G. Hudson said...

I'm a worrier and I do the same thing about making everything intense, especially as it involves the kids. I don't remember being like that BK (before kids).

However, hubs is very even-keeled and he keeps me more balanced. We can't help how we are wired, but we can learn skills that help us understand so we can work 'around' that tendency. Good luck.

Karen Walker said...

Robin, so happy you have found a therapeutic tool that works for you. I have found that we all need to search and find the ones that work for us.
Mason, maybe we never really fully grow up - we just need to learn to mange our own crap---er I mean stuff.
D.G Yes, that is so true - we must learn the skills to help us manage our stuff.

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah I'm also trying to learn not to take expectations too far.

If I have too high expectations, I'll always be disappointed in what I'm experiencing instead of just living in the moment and enjoying the thing for what it's worth.

mooderino said...

Intellectually I can be very reasonable, but if I let emotion get the better of me it can all very quickly go south. Catching it early is the bit I'm working on.

Moody Writing

LD Masterson said...

Expectations can be a fine line. If they're too high, I know I might be setting myself up for disappointment. But too low and I cheat myself out of the fun of anticipation. Hitting that perfect midpoint is a challenge.

Jennifer Chandler said...

Such a marvelous post! I understand; I do tend to react to things as if they are life and death...and they never, ever are! I can also relate to your Parthenon experience. In Ireland the fog was so thick I stood on the Cliffs of Moher and saw...nothing! The group I stayed with in India had been to the Taj Mahal so many times they didn't want to go again. And here I thought I was the only person on earth who could go to a foreign country and miss wonders of the world!


Arlee Bird said...

It's difficult not to have some kind of expectations in life, but I've tried to lower mine or keep them within reasonable bounds. I dream big and hope for good things to happen, but I try not expect much. Mostly I try to be thankful for what does come my way. Thankfulness keeps me up.

An A to Z Co-Host
Tossing It Out

DL Hammons said...

I do that with my writing. I have very few expectations and let the pure enjoyment of writing (and having others read it) drive my progress. :)