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Surviving Stressful Storms – People Expectations

In this post, I examine a topic from my upcoming book, Surviving Stressful Storms

People expectations can greatly impact your stress levels at home, at work, and in other key areas of your life. Because of your expectations toward others, you may live in a near-constant state of stress because others in your life don’t (or can’t) measure up. You find yourself focusing more on their failures or what needs improvement in them – rather than the good things about them or what they’ve achieved. Weaknesses are magnified, strengths are forgotten, and those in your life soon tire of never being “enough.”

People expectations can cause you great stress on the job. Perhaps your boss doesn’t recognize the work you do in a way that meets your expectations; (s)he seems to play favorites with a less-qualified coworker; (s)he doesn’t greet you at work in a manner you expected; or just doesn’t live up to your expectations of a “good boss.” Perhaps a coworker doesn’t perform h/her work fast enough or in some other fashion to suit you; they act in a way that doesn’t meet your expectations; or act in some other fashion that is contrary to the expectations you have for an ideal coworker. Perhaps even the customers or clients you deal with don’t live up to the expectations you have for ideal customers or clients. Instead of finding the good in any of these, the more you experience the stress of unmet expectations, the more your negative thoughts toward them are magnified and the greater your level of stress on the job.

People expectations can cause you great stress when around your friends or family. Those closest to you don’t act or react in ways you expect and so their inability to live up to your expectations causes stress in your home or when you’re with friends. Perhaps what they say (or don’t say) doesn’t meet your expectations. Perhaps what they do (or don’t do) doesn’t meet your expectations. Instead of finding the good in any of these, the more you experience the stress of unmet expectations, the more your negative thoughts toward them are magnified and the greater your level of stress at home or with friends.

People expectations can even cause you stress at church. No pastor, teacher, deacon, or any other leader; no program or activity; no fellowship or congregant can measure up once the negativity of unmet expectations begin. And like a strong wave, the stress begins pushing you away from those you committed to church with – until eventually you look elsewhere or stop going to church altogether).

People expectations can also cause you stress toward yourself. When you compare yourself to standards of parenting, partnering, or producing that are unattainable, you find yourself in a near-constant state of stress because you perceive that you are never good enough. Placing unrealistic expectations on yourself can be a tremendous source of stress in your life.

People will let you down. They will disappoint, do things (or fail to do things), say things (or fail to say things), and cause you stress. But you can get rid of this heavy cargo. Take note of the unmet expectations you have toward others in your life. Then stand on the bow of your Lifeship and “Cut-R-Loose!” Let the heavy cargo of unmet expectations fall way and instead, let a fresh and positive wind fill the sails of your Lifeship – a wind of recognition for some good qualities (no matter how difficult they may seem to be to find at first) in those who stress you the most. Doing so will not only lighten your load, but will also grant you a fresh attitude toward the people and places God has placed in your life.

I deal with this subject in more depth in my upcoming book Surviving Stressful Storms. But for now, look around the deck of your Life Ship, identify the heavy cargo of people expectations, and “Cut-R-Loose!”

© 2020 by J. David Chrisman

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