I’m sitting empty-handed at the sandwich shop with my friends. We’re waiting on our names to be called for our food orders.
But in the meantime, I hear a phone go off with a familiar ring tone. It’s the text sound I use for someone I love, but from whom I haven’t heard from in awhile.
I catch my breath. I’m finally getting the text I’ve been waiting for!
I pull the phone from my back pocket to read the text. . . .
5 Ways to Let Go of Unrealistic Expectations
This month for my One Word RELEASE, I’ve been working on releasing unrealistic expectations.
How do we let go of unrealistic expectations?
1. PAY ATTENTION
The first step is to become aware of the expectations we have. It’s easier said than done, I know. We often don’t realize that we are expecting something until we don’t get it when, where, and how we thought we would.
But we can’t intentionally release an expectation until we realize we’re holding it.
2. BE CURIOUS
Secondly, once we see our expectations, we need to question them. Would someone else in our situation consider this normal? Do these expectations feel too grandiose even to us? Have past experiences proven these outcomes are likely?
Taking a closer look at our expectations helps us discern which ones need adjusting.
3. DROP PERFECTION
If we discover we’re holding hope for the perfect solution to our circumstance, that’s a red flag. That might be the first expectation we need to release. Perfection in this world is a rare occurrence.
Be willing to accept and appreciate a Plan B solution as a viable alternative.
4. KNOW YOUR LIMITS
We often forget what we can control and what we can’t. Recognizing the limits we’re working under can help us move our expectations to a more realistic place.
Setting healthy boundaries for our expectations increases our capacity for contentment regardless of what happens next.
5. STAY OPEN
Sometimes the wildest things do happen. It is possible to be surprised above our expectations. But a more reasonable goal is to be flexible as events unfold. This mantra might be appropriate: “Whatever happens, happens. Whatever doesn’t happen, doesn’t happen.”
Be willing to deal with the actual results either way.
A Dose of Realism
Back at the sandwich shop, I casually look at my phone, even though my heart is pounding.
But the screen is still black. No message.
It wasn’t my phone that pinged. It was someone else’s.
The cashier up front now calls my name. My food is ready. But I no longer have an appetite.
My expectations got me again.
While it’s normal and healthy to get our hopes up about things, it’s not beneficial to cling too tightly to results out of our control.
I gently unclench my fingers from my phone. I put it back in my pocket.
This situation is out of my hands.
Release the need for control. Release the need for clarity. Release the need for certainty.
Release the expectation for the text I’m longing for.
Hold on to what I do know—to who I know—and ask God again for wisdom, for grace, for compassion.
God gives those gifts generously. Those are expectations I need never release.
Looking at expectations from another angle, Deborah reminds us that even when we have unmet expectations from prayer, we can remember that God is still with us, holding us with tender lovingkindness, light, and love.
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