Expectations can be one of the greatest sources of frustration, worry, fear and anger. When we expect someone to behave a certain way and they don’t, we may feel unhappy. If we expect something to happen and it doesn’t we may feel frustrated. If we expect that a problem is looming on the horizon, we may worry and fear its coming.
I live in a country where people do not always line up. When I wait for a bus or a train or at a checkout I often encounter people who simply cut in line or even walk right to the front. When I first came here, I would get frustrated and angry when people would cut in line. Even worse, I couldn’t believe how nobody seemed to be bothered by this behavior. I expected people to respect the line and to cry foul when someone cut in line.
Soon I realized that my standard of what was “right” differed from the standard here. I do think that respecting the line is better overall, but that doesn’t mean I am “right”. My expectation of how others “should” act caused frustration and anger in me.
My frustration and anger began to disappear when I realized that these negative feelings were not caused by others cutting in line, rather, I alone caused them. I made myself angry and frustrated because I expected others to abide my my standard.
Also, I was able to diminish my negative thoughts and feelings when I reminded myself that nobody is perfect and I myself cannot perfectly live up to any standard, even my own.
If you look around, you see that we all have expectations about how things should happen, how others should behave and about what is right and wrong. Remind yourself that nobody is perfect and that we are all trying to get a handle on life and you will become more forgiving and understanding. You will realize that your standard has no more claim to being correct than anyone else’s.
I don’t mean to say that you should never have expectations. But I do mean that you should be gentle with others and remember that what is considered ‘right’ is different in everyone’s mind, expecially from culture to culture. If you would like to learn how to control anger and other negative emotions, do not blame others, look within yourself.
It is you that create negative feelings and thoughts in yourself, not anyone else. Rejoice in this because that means it is in your hands alone to choose the thoughts and feelings you will permit to enter into your world.