STOP BEING IMPERFECT; YOU’RE UPSETTING ME Unrealistic Expectations By: Troy Murphy |August 2017
Habits die hard. Patterns rule our behaviors. Blindly, we walk through life thoughtlessly reacting, just as we always have done, hoping life will change. Habits serve a purpose, freeing mental space, and speeding responses. Many habits are good; some are not. The destructive patterns invade relationships, creating a downward spiral of responses, eventually destroying our dreams of security and love. We examine relationship interactions a little closer; how do we act when a partner exhibits a flaw? Are we patient and forgiving, or does the deviation from desire begin the downward decent of the relationship?
When asked, if we believe a partner should be perfect, we quickly reply, “Of course not. Nobody’s perfect.” But in the staggering moment of conflict, feelings unveil a different opinion; we must grapple with the imperfection displayed, facing a real demand for patience, acceptance and compassion. Do we react with the wisdom of acceptance or some other way? We acknowledge human limitations; but demand complete fulfillment from our relationships. We conceptually accept; however, when experiencing unmet needs, we feel disappointed and frustrated, responding with sharpness, condemnation and berating a lover for being something they cannot be—perfect.
Life varies, responses vary; relationships patterns are complex and inconsistent. Surprises occur and we must reserve emotional space to patiently accept. Perfect consistency doesn’t exist—complexity always intervenes, too many variables. We will be surprised, taken off guard and required to process something new on the spot. These unexpected deviations, even when we expect the unplanned, spark emotional bursts, momentarily upsetting us, our partner, or both. Our emotions, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors are always in a state of flux, lifting and falling before settling in homeostasis, and then lifting and falling again. But we can make sense of the chaos. We have can identify connections; recognizing associations between happenings and reactions, creating some order from the chaos. This incredible skill creates a small measure of consistency. Through past experience, and proper associations, we reasonably predict future outcomes. This process creates trust. The consistency of actions and reactions in a relationship settle our souls, soothing worries, and building bonds.
The security is built on relatively few surprises. We establish trust—and vulnerability.
Security only achieved by perfect consistency, perfect pleasing, or perfect anything will fail, leaving us scrambling to force life to be something it is not. Unrealistic expectations send us tumbling with every natural variation. Partners deviate from expectations, not because they are flawed, but because of individuality. Accepting human imperfection must extend to the real confrontations with imperfection we encounter, working to soothe our upsets when we feel displeased, frustrated, or disappointed from collisions with reality. The surprises that conflict with expectations are the challenge, when we are staring into the eyes of the beast. During hurt, generally accepted general principles are tested.
By facing the challenge of deviations, without losing our minds, calmly accepting difference, we live in reality, both feet firmly on the ground. The firm knowledge of our selves as individuals, separate and distinct from a partner, also allows our partner to be a separate distinct self. When viewed from this wider perspective, we nurture a better relationship—not expecting lovers to sacrifice their individuality to serve our chaotic emotions. Our understanding requires self-soothing in moments of conflict instead of angry reactions to unfairness. We must confront the damaging cycles—those persistent habits of reaction—and with awareness of personal responsibility and purposeful attention we achieve greater intimacy and enhanced joy.