Why do we get frustrated?
I think its because our expectations aren’t being met. That’s all frustrations are — unmet expectations. We never call it that – but if you’re frustrated — somewhere in the situation is an expectation that’s not being met.
Whether we didn’t close a deal, had a waitress bring the wrong food, or having a clash with some family member — unmet expectations are FRUSTRATING!
It’s ESPECIALLY FRUSTRATING when our expectations are not being met by things that are out of our control. Like let’s say your crazy boss is ruining your life. You can’t change your crazy boss; you have no control over him! But we DO have control over how we handle our unmet expectations.
Here’s four options.
1) Cling to your expectations.
Sometimes our expectations are hills worth dying on. Sometimes its noble.
But it should never be the only choice. If we only cling to our expectations, we will STAY frustrated and never get beyond it. That’s not just frustration — that’s the making for a grudge! Grudges are stupid, and can often be avoided if someone just clarified their expectations.
2) Clarify your expectations
This step comes easiest when our attitude is focused on high assertion and high relationship.
For example… my wife and I might argue about the position of the window. I want it open. She wants it closed. If we are only considering these two opposing positions we’ll never resolve it. But it takes two to argue. With a high level of assertion and relationship, I might say, “Sweetie, I want the window open because I’m hot.” And then she might say back to me, “Oh my wonderful and amazing hunk of a man, I would prefer the window closed because I have allergies.” (We really do speak like that when we’re fighting… okay not really). Once our interests are discussed rather than our positions, the solution seems simple: Close the window and turn on the A/C!
But sometimes we’re in a situation where our expectations aren’t necessarily great expectations; in these cases, it might be better to modify what we’re thinking.
3) Modify your expectations
Expectations can be reasonable AND unrealistic at the same time.
Generally speaking, its reasonable but unrealistic to expect people to be passionate about the things you’re passionate about. God put that passion in your heart; that doesn’t mean its everyone else’s mission. For specific example, it is reasonable to expect everyone else to give towards the charity that you love so much, but unrealistic.
4) Abandon your expectations
I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with people that are stressed out about a temporary problem. Especially at night. It’ll be better in the morning, folks!
Often I need to abandon my expectations temporarily. If there’s nothing I can do about it today, I’m not doing anybody any favors if I keep it bottled up inside of me. I have to abandon it (and forget it!) until I’m able to actually clarify my expectation.
Other times, my unmet expectations aren’t that big of deals. Or they are completely outside my control and I can’t do anything about it. In these cases, I have to abandon my unmet expectations to my God. Turning it over to him and giving Jesus control is a great option.
I think this is what the Apostle Paul did when there was a jerk named Alexander the Coppersmith who really screwed Paul over somehow. Certainly Paul was frustrated, but he abandoned his unmet expecations to the lord when he wrote, “the Lord will repay him according to his deeds” (2 Timothy 4:14).