Well Balanced

How to manage expectations

November 29, 2021 Balance Season 1 Episode 4
Well Balanced
How to manage expectations
Show Notes Transcript

Ofosu shares a moment when his kids didn't do what he asked them to, and then he and Leah discuss how to manage the frustration caused by missed expectations.

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[Effect — Singing bowl]

OFOSU: Hi, I'm Ofosu Jones-Quartey.

LEAH: And I'm Leah Santa Cruz. We're the meditation coaches on Balance. And this is Well Balanced!  Our weekly show where you join us outside of meditation.

OFOSU: This is where we get to share moments from our lives, talk through things we all experience, and provide some inspiration, advice… and hopefully uh a little fun.

[both giggle]

But before we get into everything — something exciting to share — we just found out today that Google named Balance its best app of 2021.

[both: WOOO]

LEAH:  So incredible!

OFOSU: I am really honored.  I’ve always had this wish in my heart, that the work we’re doing is meaningful and helpful and supportive to people, so I guess this suggests that it is and that’s a really cool feeling.  

LEAH:  It’s just so fulfilling to see how much meditation is entering so many peoples lives that didn’t have access to it this way before or maybe they couldn’t find something that worked right for them.  So I’m just really really grateful that we have such a great community that’s been giving us real time feedback and telling us the things that don’t work for them as well and we listen to that.  So I think that’s the cooperative effort that made this possible.

OFOSU: Yeah, for sure.  I mean, every person that’s involved from the creative side to the user side - we’re all doing this together.  It might sound a little cheesy but literally everyone has the best intentions here.  And this isn’t designed to be some cookie cutter thing, it’s designed to make a real impact in people’s lives and it seems like that’s happening.  It’s safe to say that my Balance journey has exceeded my wildest expectations and interestingly enough that’s the opposite of what I wanna talk about today.  

I would like to talk about when things don’t meet your expectations.

LEAH:  Oh, it’s the worst.

[Ofosu giggles]

It’s like oh, watch out.

OFOSU:  [laughs] it’s a recipe for disaster.

LEAH: Agreed! 

OFOSU:  Yeah, um, expectations are tricky cause when things don’t go how you’d expect it can be pretty hard to handle and I feel like this time of year, the holiday season, is so loaded with expectations.  I feel like it’s a good time to dig into this a little bit.  I just had an experience where my expectations weren’t met and I honestly got a little frustrated.  

[Leah reacts] 

And I’m gonna play that moment for you and then hopefully we can sort through that together.  

LEAH:  Okay, alright, I can relate to that frustration.

OFOSU:  Alright, well here we go.

[Transition Sound]

OFOSU: Alright, so, uh, this is a moment of mild frustration cause I've been away for the past few days and I asked my little ones to feed our beta fish and they assured me that it would get done and they would be good stewards of our fish.

But now I'm finding out that I've been gone for three days and our little guys have not changed the bird's water yet. They didn't feed the fish. [kids in the background chiming in] The birds need their water changed every day and the fish need to eat every other day. I guess. It's not so bad. Cause the fish ate right before I left, but still look at them. They're starving. In any case, the birds are being overfed. Yeah. 

Well, uh, documenting this. Oh, oh, oh, you can change. I changed that already when I got home, but feel free to change it again.

[kids chiming]

Yes. All right. So this is a snapshot of a moment. In time and life. Okay. Hold on. Let me stop this real quick.

[Ofosu and kids exchanging]

Ok, let me stop this real quick.

[Transition Sound]

LEAH: Uh, that was funny. Um, I, you know, I'm not to laugh at your frustration, but just you're holding it together. And it was like in real time, you're experiencing frustration and then they're like, oh, and this thing also happened. You're like brain malformation. Um, what, what kind of flashes through you when you experienced that kind of uh, moments of frustration when the expectations don't go according to plan. 

OFOSU: It's funny because I look back on it and I was, and I'm just like, who's really to blame here. Is it the, is it the five-year-old and the eight year old who did not remember to carry out my, um, you know, my instructions to a T or is it the 41 year old who expected the five-year-old and eight year old to remember to feed these fish, you know on time.

So, um, so I'm kind of looking at myself in retrospect, like, how much of this is on me? And I think a lot of it's on me, but yeah, you know, it's still a little frustrating cause these are you know, our pets, lifeforms, and they were so hungry when I got home and it's like, oh my God. Y'all were just walking back and forth past these little guys. And didn't think one time, like. 

LEAH: So, let me ask you let's if it wasn't your children,maybe it was your wife, like to say it, like, would it be different if you, you know, that question of like, well, they're young so, you know, I can't be had too high of expectations, but what if it's like an adult that you were depending on and they, you know, something fell through and

OFOSU: Oh my gosh. Yeah, I'd be really, I'd be really upset, you know? For me, when I, when expectations are not met,normally it is a source of pretty significant frustration for me, especially if somebody says they're going to do something, and then you trust them with that and it doesn't get done.

LEAH: Right. It makes sense. We all have to go through the world and depend on others to some degree, to help us and to support us because we can't do it all alone. But, you know, we're all also human and we all also make the mistakes and so other people can make mistakes and sometimes let us down.

Uh, for example, um, I, I eat shrimp. I like shrimp. I always have, and yesterday, uh, asked my husband if he could buy some shrimp, but I can make some ship salads. And he wanted to cook them and, I said, oh, specifically, can you, uh, make sure you take the shells off and, uh, legs off and just kinda like grill them. And he's like, yeah, yeah, yeah.

And then, uh, they came back like totally shells on, legs onl, not a big deal, but I was like, you know, a little bit annoyed because it's like, weren't you listening?

Or did you not care? And I sat there thinking about it, like, how can I let him have the grace just for making a mistake and not come down on him so hard.

Because sometimes it can be easy to come down on people and to take personal offense when mistakes are made that like, oh, they don't care about me. They must not be listening. I must not be important enough to them. 

OFOSU: Yeah. Yeah. It's all those stories that we craft around an incident that we actually don't really know what was going on.

Like, so in this situation, I was away for many days. I don't know what was happening in the house. Maybe there were things that were bigger than feeding the fish that took place, you know, that were bigger even than just lapses in the childhood brain. Maybe somebody got hurt, maybe, you know, there was some disciplinary stuff that was happening.

And instead of asking. What, you know, so what happened? How come this didn't happen? My mind immediately kind of like goes into the taking offense mode and, um, and you know, even beyond this, like, I can think of examples where in my professional life, you know Leah, but listeners might not know — I’m a musician. And if I'm waiting for like a mix of a song and it comes back, not the way that I asked for, you know, I can tend to get really frustrated about that and just be like, yo, where you just ignoring me or did you just want to insert your own thing into this? 

LEAH: It implies perhaps in your mind a disrespect. That's what the ultimate anger comes from is like I'm being disrespected. I'm being unloved. I'm being unseen. 

OFOSU: Yeah. Yeah. It's not the actual incident. That's creating negative feelings in you. It's your reaction to the story that you are conjuring and believing about what created the mistake or the action itself.

So, reminds me of this,a teacher named techno Han has this story of uh, a woman was out meditating on a boat. Andand she was really enjoying the, the, the peacefulness of meditating on the water. She had her eyes closed and another boat, a small little canoe bumped into her boat and she felt anger welling up inside.

And she started making stories about like, who would be so clumsy as to ram their boat into my boat and how dare they and what kind of person is this? and she opened her eyes and the canoe was empty.

It was just an empty canoe that was floating along the water. And so she realized in that moment that, that anger and frustration don't come from others, they come from within ourselves. 

LEAH: That's such a great lesson. It's not about who's to blame or pointing the finger, but it's like, how can I take personal responsibility for how I'm setting expectations out of others? or I'm judging the experience as a personal attack on my character taking personal offense as believing that they don't love me or that they're not respecting me and where within myself and my feeling unloved or unrespected, or that needs to work on nurturing myself in that way.

So that I don't automatically assume that that's the intention of others. 

OFOSU: yeah, absolutely. It actually cuts through so many different areas of life and all of our interactions. It speaks to the fact that we probably walk through life with a bunch of underlying expectations of how we should be treated and how other people should act.

And when those expectations aren't met, it causes all kinds of friction in relationships. So for 

LEAH: Yeah, that’s the definition of stress.  

OFOSU: You know, unmet needs and, and our relationship to that, you know, having a five-year-old is one of the biggest reminders that I find that I have to remind myself - he's five!  So like, you know, he's five, but it's really easy for me to get frustrated when he's questioning everything or just like not wanting to do stuff or really wanting a lot of attention or being disruptive because he wants attention. And I have this expectation now that he should know better, or it shouldn't be like this, or I shouldn't have to deal with this or all of those different things.

And then those narratives arise and they create frustration. And if you're not careful, then you lash out at people that you love. And then it creates a whole nother wave of unpleasant situations. So last night I was getting really frustrated with my five-year-old.

He was being disruptive while the eight year old was trying to do homework. And, um, instead of immediately saying something that I think would have ended up causing more harm, I just paused and took a breath and just looked at him, and was like, uh, he just wants some attention right now. He's not,trying to hurt my feelings or trying to do anything harmful deliberately. He's just in his five-year-old way asking for some more attention. So we went into the other room, he broke out some paper andI just watched him draw - crisis averted. And just that small pause I found was so meaningful and so important. 

LEAH: So I think that's like two takeaways. tab expectations are human. It's easy to say, oh, don't have expectations, but it's a natural part of being human.

It's like saying don't be attached to anything. It's the tricky, uh, practice to do that. So we want to maintain that healthy amount of hoping that others can support us in the world. But also having the grace and compassion for others to make mistakes and to see them as innocent and and take responsibility for our own feelings around disappointments and not cast and project that blame onto the others as their intention without giving their heart.

OFOSU: Yeah, I think reflecting on this also gives us an opportunity to reconcile when we, when we have, expressed our frustration in, in ways that caused more frustration. And when we think about it, in retrospect, maybe it's like, oh, okay, let me go back to that person and say, you know, I didn't, I didn't really handle that situation the way that.

In the best way or the way that I would've liked to. So I just want to say, I'm sorry for that. And, um, yeah, 

LEAH: And here's where it's coming from. It's coming from a need to be respected, a need to be loved and needed to be seen. And that kind of informs what we can do to change it. Like we can request. Here's what I do need to thrive and feel good.

And listen, I am not perfect at this either.  This is a practice that I have to constantly work on myself.  So whether it’s the first time you’re doing it or the 50th time you’re doing it, ya know just be patient with yourself like I’m patient with myself because we’re all on this journey together.  

So Ofosu, actually I think you did pretty well handling the missed expectation with your kids in that moment. [Ofosu reacts] I think, going into the holidays, I’m going to use that as personal inspiration to…. Just let the expectations go a little more easily.

OFOSU: Yeah, I mean it’s not easy, but I’m gonna try to do that going into December this year as well.  Just like you said, making it a practice.  Once we’ve set our minds and hearts to inviting that pause, a little bit less reactive when those feelings inevitably arise. If we ever do feel like our expectations are unmet, that we don’t have to lash out or create more harm around it - be like okay, I can just feel this and know what’s going on and let it go.  

LEAH: Yeah.  That’s a good practice to have.

[Effect — Singing bowl]

OFOSU: Alright, well that’s our show for today. Shoutout to my kiddos for letting me put them in the show :) 

LEAH: If you like what we’re doing here on the show, please tell your friends about it! And let us know what you think — send us a note to the email address in the show description.

OFOSU: And we'll be back for another conversation next week, so please be sure to follow our show on your favorite podcast app so you get notified when the episode is added. 

LEAH: Have a beautiful, beautiful rest of the week.