Let’s reframe the game…

Posted on May 18, 2013

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In my last post, I discussed how both positive and negative expectations can hurt new relationships. Expecting the best out of others we don’t know that well not only sets us up for disappointment, but also shows that we can be easily exploited. Expecting the worst out of others doesn’t help either. It leads us to settling for much less than we deserve and often serves as a negative self-fulfilling prophecy.

So what’s a person to do when entering into new relationships? How can someone remain both positive and grounded in reality with their expectations?

The key here is to learn how to objectively gather information when entering into any kind of new relationship, whether it be with a potential romantic interest, a new friend or an in-law. You have to learn how to be a detective of sorts. And you also have to be mature, and courageous enough, to accept that person in front of you is showing you who they really are (even if you wished things were different.)

I’m not sure how you were raised or what societal messages you received growing up, but I know I was constantly told to give people the benefit of the doubt. I learned in teaching classes in college that if you expect the best out of your students, they will often give your their best. I heard similar messages about managing and coaching adults as well-show people you believe in them and they will rise to the occasion. I learned from my spiritual mentors that we often see ourselves in others and so it behooves one to look for the good qualities they can find. And I’ve read tons and tons of scientific and psychological research that supports my inner belief that everyone is actually good and that deviations from this goodness are usually results of stress and abuse.

But all of these theories are cold comfort when you learn that someone has tried to swindle you out of money, that someone you thought was a friend has spread awful rumors about you or that your child’s caregiver has shown herself to be quite dishonest. (All of which has happened to me in the past month. And as you know, I’m a professional life coach with excellent training and tons of life-improvement tools and this shit still happens to me!)

I tend to be like Andrea, the client I described to you in my last post. I lean a little towards the naive side of things because I’d like to believe people are good. Sometimes I could kick myself for giving people the benefit of the doubt. But then again, I don’t want to spend my life being suspicious and negative of new people. I’ve noticed that clients like Jane, who tend to look for the negative in others, don’t fare too well in life, either, because they’re always expecting the other shoe to drop. People are human and they make mistakes but if all you focus on are the mistakes, you’re missing all of the other great parts of the picture. And you’re certainly not having fun if you’re always paranoid that someone’s about to turn against you.

This internal conflict that I’ve been struggling with the past month has led to some great findings and the creation of (what I hope are) helpful and insightful coaching tools. I intended to just write a couple of posts about setting up expectations intelligently, but I’ve got way too much stuff to share with you in one or two blog posts!

I’m going to spend this summer teaching you some of the things I’ve learned over the past several weeks about how to set up your expectations so that you can be realistic and grounded in your relationships. So that you can still look for the good in others,  have fun, be open and honest with people and yet protected, observant, in tune with your gut and not easily fooled by master manipulators. ( I’ve also outlined a new ebook with some of this material and I’m hoping to have it published before the year’s end. Stay tuned.)

One of the best things about being a life coach is that I get to use my life as my own personal laboratory of sorts and as Emerson says, all life is an experiment and the more experiments you make, the better! I’m so glad you’re joining me for this so we can learn, together, how to live our lives as women with open hearts and minds and intelligent awareness.

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Posted in: Expectations