“Expectation Breeds Disappointment”

By Nancy Pollard, LCSW, LLC
Nancy Pollard

In·di·an sum·mer
            A noun
a period of unusually dry, warm weather, following a seasonally cold spell, occurring in late autumn; a period of happiness or success late in life.

It’s common knowledge that people come to Park City for the winters and stay because of the summers.  But for me, it is all about the fall, and particularly the Indian summers we always get just after the first snow dusts the mountaintops.

The bluest of skies; vibrant yellow, orange, and red on the trees; snowcapped mountains in the background.  These are the bonus days - never expected and always brilliant.

Indian summers remind me to expect nothing and be surprised by what comes - and to remember, to the contrary, how often do I expect something only to be disappointed?

Think about this: When you were last disappointed, was it because you had expectations that weren’t met? 

For example:

  • You didn’t get accepted to the college you had planned
  • You didn’t get the job you wanted, or the one you got was less than perfect.  Or worse, you got laid off during a cutback
  • Your marriage turned out to be a disaster and you are facing a divorce
  • You have dreamt of children your whole life but find out that you are infertile
  • You work hard and still can’t sustain a steady income
  • You’re retired and bored, not the least bit fulfilled

The list goes on and on.  The expression “expectation breeds disappointment” is usually true. 

So, if I don’t have any expectations, I won’t be disappointed.  Sounds very simple, doesn’t it?  It also sounds cavalier, unrealistic, and impossible to sustain…and actually a little self-defeating.

If I don’t have my dreams, how can I succeed?  If I don’t want more, how can I stay motivated?

When I work very hard and do not achieve what it is I am working towards, I get angry.  I reach a point, then throw up my hands and say, “FINE! WHATEVER!”  I am supposed to live alone – OK, I will.  I am supposed to work my entire life - fine, done.  I am not supposed to travel - alright, I’ll stay home.  I am not supposed to get promoted – I guess I’ll stay where I am.  I am not supposed to get rehired – I will start my own business!

But that sometimes makes me feel like I’m ‘giving up’.  Boy, is that a dirty word - I DO NOT GIVE UP!  In those moments, here are some words of wisdom I know to be true:

  • Do your best
  • Try your hardest
  • Have big dreams
  • Pursue your goals
  • Keep trying
  • Be committed
  • Think big
  • Be optimistic
  • Pull yourself up again and again and again

…UNTIL there is no more gas in the engine and all doors keep shutting.  Then, let go.  Get out of the way.  Wave the white flag and surrender.  As some say: Let Go and Let God.

At times, I have learned that I must let go of how my life ‘should’ be and simply trust, sit back, and enjoy the ride.  Once I let go, as soon as I surrender and say, fine, I guess I am not supposed to have that perfect relationship, that hefty bank account, that secure job, whatever it may be – that’s when I get surprised.  Like the brilliant colors of the Indian summer days, life becomes amazing and better than I imagined.

What about you?  What have you been working for so hard yet is somehow not happening?  Are you between jobs and sending out resumes only to be rejected again and again?  Is the pay too low, the benefits not secure; are you too old, too young, over-qualified, under-experienced?  Is the picture of the career you think you are meant for not panning out; are you not promoted because of nepotism in the company or because you are not the “right” religion or gender?

Are you single and keep trying to find The One, only to be disappointed?  Are you married and unhappy, feel alone, tried therapy but nothing works?  Is the white picket fence and the idea of living happily ever after shattered and unrepairable?  Does your mother think you should be married and have children…but you aren’t, and you don’t?

Whatever the scenario, whatever the reason, if life is not turning out the way you imagined it would, then maybe it is time to tear up that image and surrender, step aside, and say, “Ok fine…now what?  What am I missing?  What am I supposed to be doing?  Where do you want me?  What am I supposed to be learning?”

And maybe, just maybe, when you least expect it, magic will appear.  Just like the surprise of the Indian summer, a bonus day will come your way…and your goal may actually get accomplished in a way you never thought possible.  There may be a period of happiness and success later in life.  Don’t give up - give in, let go, and see what joy is in store for you.

Just a little Mountain Therapy

Copyright © 2016 Nancy Pollard



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