Michele's Books

Disappointment: Putting Expectations in their Place

An excerpt from our book, Burdens Do a Body Good.

“When you taste a measure of being able to love and enjoy the people in your life, without having to have any particular response from them, you are tasting bliss.”
Paula Rinehart in Strong Women, Soft Hearts

She was so disappointed with everything and everyone. Disappointed at work, especially with those co-workers who didn’t appreciate her talents and with a boss who never saw her potential and failed to promote her. She was disappointed at home where she had kids who rarely said thank you, and never picked up after themselves. Even at church, after all those years of serving faithfully, did anyone ever notice?

So there she was, disappointed with her career, her family, her friendships, herself. Disappointed both coming and going. At this point in her life, even she recognized there was no pleasing her.

“She” could be every woman. As hard as it is to admit, every woman struggles with the obvious disjoint between expectations, even the reasonable ones, and feeling undone by disappointment when said expectations don’t come to pass. Somewhere in between those two realities both the one in our heads and the one that plays out in our lives, real people live. And in that reality, real people fail each other, intentionally and unintentionally. Every day. Everywhere.

The challenge then isn’t to kill our hearts’ desires when expectations are dashed and to allow disappointment to further bolster an already wounded heart. Instead, a reframing (in the attitude department) is in order. Accepting the fact that people will rarely respond in the way you might hope (or think you need) is a place of great freedom. And peace. As one counselor puts it, always aim to weigh heavier by giving more than receiving, no matter what.

In other words, see a need; meet it. Observe a wrong; right it. Hear an unkindness; counter it. Do it with eyes that see and a heart bent on lifting the burdens of people nearest you. Do it intentionally and often. Better still, do it now.

There is a memorable line at the close of an old film where actress Diane Keaton, who portrays a woman dying of cancer, tells her younger and estranged sister that she’s so grateful for the love in her life. Whereupon her sister misunderstands and assures Keaton’s character, that yes, everyone does indeed love her. Keaton immediately and vehemently protests and then offers clarification, “No, it’s not me that’s been loved.” Now don’t miss this important distinction. Keaton explains, “I’ve been blessed to have had the chance to so love them.” So then, a met (or unmet) expectation can be a beautiful thing.

Takeaway Action Thought: Harness your expectations by making them work for you, expect to see the good and you will.

Weight Bearing Exercises

Bad attitudes can ruin a person, top to bottom, inside and out. Negativity and all its disagreeable sidekicks will put a death quell on everything that happens between breakfast and bedtime…if we allow it. Those unrealistic expectations can literally eat away at us (body and soul), short-circuiting the obvious good all around us. Ever consider how a poor outlook can even affect the healing process? Our bodies are receptacles of our entire life experience and how we think, talk, and feel impacts how effectively we heal. Part of getting better, growing stronger, is being willing to do the hard work of realistically tailoring any unhealthy expectations and reframing each one so they enhance, rather than detract, build rather than restore.

REALITY CHECKS: Information You Need to Know to Heal Strong
· Elevated levels of cortisol; the body’s primary stress hormone, negatively affects wound healing. High cortisol levels dampen the immune response. As a result, this imbalance can delay healing while increasing the risk for wound problems such as post-surgical infections. Similarly, stress, depression and anxiety prior to surgery have all been linked to poor recovery after surgery.
· Any surgical procedure places an increased demand on the body. As a result, protein and calorie needs are increased 20-50% over normal requirements. Without enough dietary protein, the body must break down muscle and organ tissue that can impair the immune system and deplete energy and strength needed for recovery.
· Exercise has a clearly demonstrated a positive effect on surgical outcomes. According to a 2005 report from the Journal of Gerontology, wound healing is 25% faster in those patients that exercised three weeks prior to surgery compared to those who maintained their normal routine. Additionally, exercise improves circulation and strength that lead to increased mobility after surgery.

HOW WE THINK: Making Your Expectations Work for You
· Individuals who embrace a “can do” attitude and are invested in their own recovery typically do extremely well relative to those who are apprehensive or anxious prior to surgery.
· The power of positive thinking does go a long way. Most often, if an individual thinks she will do well, she does. Flipside, when a person anticipates struggling or frets about experiencing potential problems after surgery; that individual’s recovery will be much tougher.
· Adopting reasonable expectations and being willing to commit both emotionally and physically to the recovery process creates the best environment for a successful outcome.

WHAT WE DO: Simple Measures to Positive Results
· Make sure to eat a balanced diet that has adequate protein intake.
· Exercise for a minimum of three weeks prior to surgery.
· Avoid pre-surgical stress and anxiety or consider delaying an elective procedure until the intense season has passed or can be more easily managed.

“In you (God) they trusted and were not disappointed.” Psalm 22:5

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