Occasionally, my kids get all kinds of upset when their high hopes for something don’t go as expected.
A good example is the disappointment Duncan felt when it was too chilly to go in the campground pool Memorial Day weekend. He remembered one campout last year when he got to swim for hours, and to him, that was an important ingredient for an awesome weekend. He got over it and still had a good time. But the disappointment he expressed was dramatic.
I was thinking about his disappointment on the drive into work this morning and was reminded that I used to be equally dramatic when something failed to meet my expectations. My typical reactions were far worse, though. I’d give into my addictive impulses, mope for days and, perhaps worst of all, I’d let disappointment completely destroy the rest of the day, weekend, holiday, what have you.
When you have OCD and a brain that never stops thinking, you tend to expect certain things out of your day. When the expectation is a bad one and isn’t fulfilled, it’s a huge weight off the shoulders. Expect to be told that you have cancer and then learn it’s just a benign lump is freeing.
But when you expect something good and it doesn’t happen — a snow day, a night out, a promotion at work — the sudden change of events can be devastating to a guy like me.
I’ve gotten better, though, because I learned to keep my expectations low.
That same Memorial Day weekend experience is a good example. I remembered how it rained so much the year before and how disappointed I was. This time I went in assuming the weather would suck, and I prepared, bringing some good reading and the laptop in case the writing muse paid a visit, which it did. It turns out the weather, though chilly, was pretty decent. We got in a lot of time outdoors.
I went in with low expectations and got a far better weekend than I planned for.
I don’t pull this off every time. But I have certainly gotten good results more often from lowered expectations. I’ve also learned to look at plans that fall apart as plot twists, and that’s helped me roll with the punches better.