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Who (or what) comes to mind when you think about reliability? A specific person? A type of person? An inanimate object that has withstood the test of time?

What if you consider this definition from the Cambridge dictionary?

Someone or something that is reliable can be trusted or believed because he, she, or it worksor behaves well in the way you expect:

Reliable is often determined by consistency of results. Past performances repeated in the same way over and over again creates a sense of reliability. This means we create a set of expectations on how we think something, or someone should be.

What do we make it mean when the result is different from our expectation? That the person was wrong? That the expectation was wrong? Do we change future expectations based on this result?

Is it reasonable to pose an expectation of behavior on another person? If they don’t live up to our expectations, do we punish them for it? Did they even know what the expectation was or what the consequence might be if they didn’t manage it?

What if the unmet expectation is of ourselves? How often do we berate ourselves for not doing what we thought we should do? What is the source of the rules in this guidebook we have for ourselves? What is it serving in our lives?

We all have guidebooks for the people in our lives. You can probably think of a dozen thoughts starting with “He/She/I/They should have ___________” This isn’t right, wrong or otherwise -but no one is obligated to follow these rules we have established. And we get to choose how we feel if they do or if they don’t.

Unmet expectations can be a source of significant stress in our lives if we aren’t prepared for how we will react to them. Preparation can be a great defense strategy, making space between a result and our reaction to it.

Those “should” thoughts can invite frustration, irritability, anger, disappointment, rejection and resign. While it can be reasonable to hold a standard, to raise the bar, to have bottom lines and non-negotiables, it is important to notice how you handle a result that doesn’t achieve these expectations you have set.

If you struggle with these and would like to learn more, join me for tomorrow’s entry as I explore how to reduce the struggle and move toward satisfaction in any scenario.

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