4 Ways To Manage Your Friendship Expectations And Deal With Letdowns
I, like many people, don’t deal with disappointment well. That may seem like a fairly obvious and widely shared sentiment, but I truly believe some people handle life’s letdowns better than others.
This could be because they find themselves impervious to the occasional curveball of sh*t that life tends to throw our way, or it could — and most likely is — a testament to their ability to manage their expectations.
It may be something of a tired saying, but the only control we have in this life is over our reactions and ourselves.
One of the main recurring themes in my favorite non-fiction read is the following: event + responses = outcomes.
Jack Canfield, in his bestseller, "The Success Principles," refers to it as, “The formula that puts you in control of your success."
If it sounds easier said than done, it’s because it is. There is nothing easier than experiencing something unpleasant and reining in our emotions long enough to seize control of the outcome that follows.
Then again, nothing worth doing is ever easy anyway.
When it comes to friendships — where I find some of the heaviest disappointments can stem from — I like to keep the following in mind before any events, during my response and often, as a credit to my outcomes:
Often we put the people closest to us on a pedestal that they neither earned nor asked to be placed upon.
We set them so high up that we can barely reach them ourselves.
We do this because it’s in our nature to take people we care for and admire and try to turn them into aspirational figures, even mentors, to our own lives.
Inevitably, we suffer massive shock and disappointment when these people ultimately fail to live up to the expectations we have set for them.
We handed them impossible tasks, set the bar way too high and then found ourselves bewildered on the sidelines as they missed the mark we must have known they could never hit.
It’s easy enough to do, to set ideals upon others that we, ourselves, feel we can’t achieve, but it isn’t fair.
When looking to others for inspiration or guidance, be sure you aren’t looking through rose-colored glasses.
People cannot give more than they have, and they certainly cannot become people they are not.
If you need something to look to, try working on it from within, before projecting your own needs onto others, because it just isn’t fair or feasible for someone else to live up to your set standards.
Try to conquer things by yourself
Avoid asking for favors you could accomplish yourself with some added effort. You’ll find yourself relying on others, where you might have easily and more quickly gotten the job done yourself.
The added anxiety that comes with depending on others for even the smallest of tasks can quickly spiral into mutual resentment and tension between friends.
While it isn’t unfair to help friends out on occasion and hope for the same in return, putting too much of your day’s weight in the hands of another will usually end disastrously.
No one wants to shut down a friend in need, but not everyone has the time or energy to put your tasks at the top of his or her list, which means your little “to-do” becomes bottom shelf on someone else’s task list.
Now, a small chore on your end is now a burden on the both of you.
Do it for you before asking someone else to do so; you’ll find it may actually get done when and how you had hoped it would.
Keep it all in perspective
It just isn’t realistic to think you can avoid ever getting your hopes up when it comes to the friendships and relationships in your life.
It’s going to happen and sometimes, it’s going to work out and sometimes, it’s going to be an epic fail.
When this happens — and it will — try to keep perspective about the situation. Few of life’s disappointments will warrant a complete mental breakdown.
While everything feels catastrophic and irreparable in the moment, a little time and space will usually shed some light on the situation and leave you reflecting on what your role might have been in how it all played out.
Nothing that doesn’t kill you is worth putting yourself into a negative state of mind.
Take the time you need to figure it out for yourself before engaging with someone else when you’re not yet ready.
You’ll find you will return with a clear head and more objective view of events; this is the only way you'll be able to resolve an issue with another person.
Get over it
Now for a little tough love: Get over it. Take it from someone who, for a long time, would’ve loved nothing more than to adopt a perma-pout and hold a grudge until I was blue in the face.
This solves nothing beyond conveying you are an overgrown child with conflict-resolution issues.
It takes two people to create the blows, but only one to walk away and move on.
Whether you fix what’s broken and get back to working on your own happiness or you cut your losses and let go of unnecessary negative figures in your life, nip it in the bud and move on.
Life is too short to spend at war with all of the unfair bits of it. Odds are, you’ve been dealt some uniquely awesome cards in your life, and those are worth focusing on.
When you allow unhappiness to creep into your head and heart, the only person who suffers is you.
While I still struggle to keep event + responses = outcomes at the forefront of my mind when the proverbial sh*t hits the fan, I know it’s the best choice I can make when faced with the unexpected and unpleasant.
Author Mildred Barthel once said, “Happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response.”
Unless you make the effort to inject some conscious “happy” into your everyday state of mind, life will get the better of you.
Not because the world is out to destroy you, but because the world is simply out and at some point in life’s roulette of sh*tty days, you will be up to bat. That’s on life, but how hard you swing back is on you.