Are you disappointed?

Expectation is the root of all heartache    - William Shakespeare

I’ve noticed there are three areas in life and relationships that seem to cause a majority of our stress and discomfort:  Requests, Expectations and Desires - and what happens when we don’t acknowledge the difference between the three. 
 
I recently disappointed a friend of mine and when we later discussed the situation she told me “You should have known how I was feeling and what I wanted to happen”.  When I heard that, I initially felt like a really awful friend.  However, as I took a step back to examine what happened I realized it was never truly my responsibility to give her something that she had not requested from me directly.   My friend had an expectation.
 
This made me think about how many times a day we have our own internal dialogue with others – with friends, family, partners, coworkers, even strangers.   We want them to feel our pain, understand our needs, and respond in ways that feel good to us – yet so often we don’t verbalize our requests and needs clearly, if at all.  We carry around expectations, assumptions and ultimately unmet desires--making us feel incomplete, disconnected and unhappy in our relationships.
 
Children are really good at making direct requests (in fact, my daughters do it all day long!)  Perhaps as adults we get worn down by ongoing demands and then find it hard to ask for what we truly need, especially when it’s emotionally charged or we have an old wound.   But if you haven’t made the effort to figure out exactly what you want from someone and communicate this request clearly and directly- it likely will never play out the way you want it to.   We yearn for perfect scenarios and relationships we hear in songs and see in the movies.  For people to just know what we want and need.  These are desires.
 
Even if you ask for something directly, you may still not get your desired result. Make requests, but don’t let them immediately turn into expectations or burning desires.  It helps to examine the patterns of people around you and how they consistently treat you and others- don’t fool yourself into thinking they will act differently than they have in the past --I’m getting better at this one now with age.  The timing and tone of your requests is also crucial.  When I know a friend or family member is going through a particularly difficult time, I try not to turn to them with my own drama and demands.
 
It also helps to look at what you’re asking of friends and people around you.   You don’t go to your hairdresser and expect to get great tax advice – you chose them for their skill and interest is cutting and styling hair.  Everyone has their own unique offering.  Focusing on people’s core strengths allows them to feel their best and offer what they can to you, while alleviating your continued disappointment in their behavior.
 
All of this ultimately boils down to letting go of past and future- and staying more in the present moment.  This is easier when you focus on people who are there for you and you for them- those who make you feel loved, cared for and worthy. Reach out to those people more and reconnect.  
 
And learn to love yourselfProvide yourself with what you are yearning for- be it the compliments, compassion, or encouragement. Only you know what you truly need.