Conflict # 61 – A Hard Truth

In a previous article I proposed the idea that unhappiness often results from holding unrealistic expectations; that is, expectations not based on evidence or facts. Instead, such expectations are based on a number of misconceptions. Here are two of them: 1) That people will act in accord with the way they “should” act and 2) The hope that people will change their bad behavior on their own.

A few examples for you. First, a man with a good job ‘expects’ that he will be treated fairly based on his seniority and exceptional performance – that’s the way it’s supposed to be – only to learn that the boss’s young nephew has been promoted ahead of him. Second, a woman with a cheating husband, both of whom are active in their church (bless their hearts) ‘hopes’ that one day he will see the light. Third, the child who defies his parents’ authority, because his parents are not perfect. And because they’re imperfect, they’re hypocrites, and they have no right to tell him what to do.

In this article the spotlight is on one particular unreasonable expectation: the expectation that people should always do the right thing. It’s one thing to believe in that. But, If that’s your expectation, and further, if you refuse to believe that anyone could eventually disappoint you, you are in for a shock.

The reality which so many people refuse to accept is that all people – even our greatest heroes –  are liable to fail. And at some point one of them will fail you. When that happens … and if all through your life you’ve refused to accept the hard truth, how would that impact you? Would your world come crashing down? Would you become depressed, cynical and angry at humanity? By holding on to a false image, are you setting yourself up to suffer?

On the other hand, if you chose to acknowledge human frailty – even for the ones wearing the white hats – and that people may some day let you down. And it’s not their fault because human beings are just imperfect … wouldn’t that make it easier to let go and to forgive the people you hurt you?

To be clear, I am not advocating for pessimism or for lowering of our standards of behavior. There is much in favor of holding reasonably high expectations for other people – your kids, your employees and partners.  

This is not all black and white. So, if you’re wondering about this kind of thing and would like to talk it over, please call 219-309-3928 for a free consultation. I’d be honored to be of service.

Thanks for reading!