What happens when our reality doesn’t meet our expectation? It happens all the time, right? Maybe even every day. We want “x” to happen and we get ”y”. We expect our company to land the big contract, the employee to deliver the proposal on time, to achieve some set measure of success and it just doesn’t happen. Then what? How do we typically act/react? And where does that get us?
That which We Resist, Persists
When results fall short of expectations, most of us experience disappointment, perhaps frustration and maybe even anger. We concentrate on the gap between what we wanted and what we got. In brief, we focus on what is not. We resist the current reality and instead stay stuck in the past belief of what should have happened or in fear of the future because it didn’t. We dissect what is wrong with the company, we have the “fierce” conversation with the employee, and we judge ourselves for not measuring up. And in so doing, we delay ourselves from moving forward and creating what can be. Our mind and body, and therefore our results, follow what we focus on. And when focus on what didn’t happen, we stay in resistance. And that which we resist persists.
OK, so what then? How do we respond to dashed expectations? Try acceptance. The alternative to resistance is acceptance, accepting what happened and the consequences and moving on. What?! How can we get better, get a different result if we don’t examine and try to remedy what went wrong? To be clear, I am not saying that we should ignore less than expected performance; I am suggesting that we can accept it. But how can I accept that?! Doesn’t that mean that I’m endorsing mediocrity? No. It doesn’t.
Accept AND Expect More
We can accept what is and expect more. By accepting the disappointing result, the employee or ourselves, we establish a “receiving” relationship with the present moment, others and ourselves, a relationship from which growth can occur. Have you ever had a parent or friend or lover who left you feeling that no matter what you did, it wasn’t good enough? You got “B”s and they expected “A”s. You cleaned up and they showed you the spot you missed. You bought pearls and they wanted diamonds. They expected more and maybe you gave it. And how did you feel about it? How did you feel about them? And how did you feel about yourself? Acceptance provides the relational foundation upon which a new beginning and growth can occur.
See What is Possible
Next time your reality doesn’t match your expectation of it, try relaxing with a deep breath and embracing what is. Accept the situation, the other person, yourself. From there, decide what attitude, what action will get you want you are wanting. If you are open to it, you’ll find a host of possibilities available to you that would otherwise have remained hidden. Embrace the present and see what it possible.