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Setting Realistic Expectations

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I have a family member (don’t ask don’t tell…) who puts tremendous stress into her life and, frankly, I think she’s a bit off her rocker.

She does it by expecting people to behave a certain way; if they don’t behave as she thinks they should, she gets upset. Really upset. She expects people to always do the right thing and to be as polite as she is (she is VERY polite and knows her manners).

One thing she is a stickler about is being thanked. If she sends someone a birthday card and they don’t thank her for it, she is incensed. And if they DO thank her but it isn’t with enough sincerity or enthusiasm, she is equally incensed. She expects to be thanked, and in the way she would (and does) thank others.

Another thing that upsets her is people who forget her birthday, ESPECIALLY those to whom SHE sends a birthday card. She expects to be remembered by those that she remembers. She gets hurt and angry.

She also expects things that she does to be noticed and appreciated. If she puts a new plant in the house and her husband doesn’t notice, look out; it’s World War III!

I don’t want to turn this into a Mars-Venus thing. I understand about being thanked and remembered and appreciated; heck, I like those things too and I’m just a man! That said, however, I would like to suggest that these affronts are probably not worth all of the stress that she is heaping onto herself.

I think it all boils down to expectations. If she didn’t expect so much, she wouldn’t be so upset if she didn’t get it. Send the birthday cards because it’s a nice thing to do, not because you expect to receive heaps of gratitude and appreciation. So what if a few people don’t remember your birthday? I’m not saying these things aren’t important, just that they aren’t THAT important in the grand scheme of things.

I am about reducing stress, and a good way to reduce stress is to reduce your expectations of others. Your own actions are the only actions you can control; what other do or don’t do is entirely out of your hands.

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