Expectation Overload

It can be easy to feel frustrated by a host of things, big and small, that happen or don't happen every day.

Someone cuts you off in traffic.

A slow person blocks the aisle in the grocery store.

A baby near you won't stop screaming.

A rainstorm interrupts your vacation.

 A child won't listen to you.

You've been put on hold.

No one is responding to your job applications.

Sometimes I find myself feeling tense throughout the day as I seem to encounter one frustrating situation after another.

Usually I just tell myself to be patient, and today I had a realization: Patience is a result of controlling our expectations.

I had really never thought about how patience and expectations are connected. I just assumed that "patience is a virtue" and that I need to remember it occasionally.

But it's our expectations that cause us to feel frustrated and impatient. We expect that people will defer to us in traffic, the grocery store, the airport, the telephone, and the interview process. When they don't, we feel disappointed because we were expecting perfection.

This process is unconscious. We don't usually sit around and think, "I expect my day to go perfectly." But our emotions betray the fact that we subconsciously ARE expecting things to be perfect. We wouldn't feel so let down and frustrated if we weren't expecting a different reality.

Whenever I start to get that tense or frustrated feeling, I'm going to try to release whatever expectation is causing my emotion. There is no circumstance in daily life where the world will come to an end if I take an extra 30 seconds to do something or temporarily change my plans. I can create patience by releasing expectation.

The next level of this process would be to replace patience with gratitude in these situations. Instead of just patiently waiting them out, I could actively choose to look for things to appreciate in the situations.

When we're feeling tired and stressed, it can be hard to muster the mental energy to convert frustration to patience to gratitude. Ironically though, this transformation will help reduce the stress and leave us better equipped to handle the next challenge that life will throw at us.

How do you stay patient and manage your subconscious expectations? I'd love to hear your experiences in the comments section.