I've written a lot about expectations and how they get us into trouble. I discuss it often because it's something with which I struggle, and I hear from clients how it hooks them frequently, too. It's really tough to not hope things will go better this time you go out with your friends—or the next time your boss assigns you a project or you assign one to your supervisees. It's not easy to keep our expectations realistic and detach from outcomes.
A couple days ago I read an article in the April-May 2013 issue of AARP The Magazine about a woman dealing with her mother's dementia and her father's denial about it. She expected her father to take hold—and she expected her siblings to help more. However, in the end, in her words, she "embraced my own type A compulsiveness, quit complaining and did it myself."
She said, "I stopped expecting [Dad] to step up and fix it and stopped expecting myself to be infallible, all-knowing. It turned out that the fancy doctors, the expensive pills, the endless tests, my iron will, my reams of notes, my research, were all for naught. Dementia won.
"The only power I had left was to surround my mother with acceptance and kindness."
How powerful is that! It was a good reminder to me to stop fighting things that cannot be changed. Accept. Go with the flow. Things always go better when I can do that. So back to the Serenity Prayer again!