Useful Bits of Advice

The Thing About Expectations and Assumptions


I woke up exhausted, still trying to recover from my Thursday night, which ended at 6:30 Friday morning.  I didn’t want to get out of bed and face everything I had to do today.

My day has been riddled with expectations and assumptions.  I’ve been agitated all day by the littlest things.  My mind is running wild with fear and aggravation.

This morning I went to visit the job site for a rehab I am financing.  The drive took far longer than I had anticipated.  There was traffic, cars moving slowly on single lane road and I seemed to hit every red light.  By the time I got to the site I was annoyed.  I met with my friend who is doing the rehab, only to find the lockbox holding the key to the house was stuck shut.  He tried repeatedly to open it with no avail.  We were locked out.

Since he will be replacing the windows, he broke one and we climbed in like cat burglars.  During our walk through I wasn’t exactly impressed with the progress.  I was having trouble envisioning how the finished product would look.  I had expected to see a greater amount of work done on the property.

This was the first time I saw the house since the rehab began.  I haven’t been asking for updates, nor have I looked at the project schedule.  I had nothing to base progress off of except my own unspoken expectations.  If I had been more involved with the project and the work schedule I might be able to assess if things are on track or not.

Once my expectations came into play my mind immediately became filled with negative thoughts.  I second guessed my investment,  “Why did I get myself involved in this?”  Will I get my investment back?  I pictured the worst case scenario playing out.

I took that same mindset with me to the gym.  My mind kept me from pushing myself and having the workout I wanted.  It wasn’t a bad workout, but it didn’t quite meet the expectation I had in my head.  My arms didn’t get the pump I thought I usually get.  I couldn’t push the weight I normally use.  Whether or not any of this was reality I’m not sure.  But my mind sold the idea to me and made me believe it.

A friend of mine text me to say hello and see how my day was going.   Her replies weren’t fast enough for my liking.   I was annoyed.  Why would she text me in the first place if she didn’t want to have a conversation?  I made assumptions about her reasons that drove me crazy.

I was sitting in the sauna obsessively checking my phone waiting for her text.  The heat coupled with my aggravation made me feel like I was going to have an anxiety attack.  Before she could answer back I told her I felt something was wrong and I’d talk to her later.  She seemed confused by my message.  She wasn’t fulfilling my unspoken needs.  I was going to have a tantrum if I didn’t end the conversation.

All day I’ve been arguing with people in my mind.  Long-winded battles filled with gloom and doom are raging inside my head.  I’m embarrassed when I catch myself playing out these scenarios, knowing they are most likely so far removed from the truth of what is occurring.  It’s bullshit, it serves no purpose other than to complicate my life and pull me away from being present.

So often I rush through activities because I can’t get present and focus on what I am doing.  My thoughts sabotage me.  I end up sitting around doing nothing other than stewing in my own negative emotions.

It’s the negative loop continuously running in my mind trying to sabotage my day and lead my into despair.  I think the human mind has an affinity for negative thoughts.  It’s easier to focus on what’s going wrong or what we feel we are lacking than to be grateful for what we have.  The mind is tricky like that.  It takes a lot of practice and work for most people to change how they think.

When a situation like this arises, the first course of action I take is to is focus on my breathing.  It’s a mindfulness technique that I am getting better at.  Feeling my body expand and contract as I breath air in and blow air out.  Its a brief pause from whatever my mind is stuck on.  I redirect my attention from my thoughts to my breath.  Creating distance from my negative thoughts, even if only for a few seconds, allows me to refocus.

If I still can’t shake the thought or feeling I ask myself the following question, “how does this serve me and is this making my life better on any level.”  I don’t have to think long and hard to answer.  The answer is always no.  Reframing the thought with this question breaks it down to it’s simplest form.  The thought is either benefit or a detriment to my life.  There isn’t room for subjectivity, if it’s a detriment it needs to go.

These two steps help clear my mind.    The breathing calms the body and the mind, allowing a pause from whatever is causing the problem.  Then asking the one simple question of how this serves you creates a decision of whether or not this thought is worth spending anymore time thinking about.  It’s simple, but not always easy.

When the world doesn’t come to me and act exactly as I expect it to I have problems.  I want everyone to know what I want and need and to act accordingly.

A friend once told me, “Expectations are resentments in the making.”  Holding onto expectations and assumptions will keep you shackled in a prison of negative emotions.  Learning how to think and communicate based on fact and not fear creates freedom to enjoy the present.

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