Typically, when you rescue a dog, you fill out an application and, once approved, have a one to two hour meet and greet.  From that short visit you then decide if you will commit to loving them for the next ten to fifteen years.  You’re saying: no matter the behavioral issues that develop, the health care needs, the contradictions to my personal expectations, I commit to loving this creature fully, and with the kindest of heart.  It is a decision that implores your gut instinct.  Imagine if we made our human relationships that simple.

In all fairness, I do understand that our relationships with our dogs, and our relationships with humans, are indeed different.  However, what I want to focus on is our ability to choose the amount of kindness we hold towards others when our personal expectations are not fully met.  I also want to recognize how our personal expectations are created by our own desires and needs.  Yes, there are some expectations that are so universal that they made them in to laws, such as stopping at stop signs, but I’m referring to the judgments we place on others when they make choices that don’t align with the choices we would make.

My Chihuahua, Permilia, who recently passed away, used to regularly have pee accidents in the house.  Each time, I would become more committed to her training so that my expectation of her only pottying outside could be mutually understood.  Here was a little dog that was found on the streets of Chicago only two months before I adopted her.  Before her rescue it didn’t matter where she pottied, but once us humans stepped in, we had expectations.  For some humans, they are fine with a pee pad in the house; for others, only outside pottying is acceptable.  How is a little dog to know, unless her human continues to stay open-hearted and willing to keep searching for the best way to communicate the new expectation?

Now, let’s compare this to a person who often does things their way, without understanding what others want; would we make the same commitment to a clear understanding with them?  My guess is we would judge them; making it their responsibility to figure out what others wanted.  Most likely, we would label them- arrogant jerk; egotistical, thoughtless.  Would we engage, and make time to explain our perspective; sharing why it was important to us?  I’m not talking about unconditional dog love; I’m taking about approaching this person with kindness and compassion, committed to reaching a mutual understanding.  Allowing them time to integrate our expectations, or perhaps allowing them leniency if they simply can’t, or choose not to.

Let’s talk about those expectations.  I’m going to be blunt; it is more common for people to expect others to simply know their expectations than it is for people to discuss them.  “He should know that I expect him to…”  Ladies, I know you all hear me on this one.  So, my question is – why should he know?  And, if you actually have held an honest conversation about your expectations; what are the ones you hold most necessary?  Are there any you are willing to compromise on?  What about let go of entirely?

A quick side note: those expectations that we hold others to- we made them up.  They are based on what we need or desire, and they’re rarely cut and dry. An example:  you expect your husband to consult with you before making any large purchases.  So, what do you consider large purchases?  Is it actually the dollar amount that determines this, or is it the necessity of the purchase?  And, is this because of budgetary needs, or simply to hold a sense of control?  I’m just asking, because these are all very important questions to ask yourself to uncover what it is you actually want, and where the expectation is coming from.

When it seemed my Permilia, despite our numerous daily walks, was simply not going to be able to resist piddling on my rug, I finally decided to lay a pee pad down on top of it.  Ideal? No.  What I originally expected? No.  A fair compromise? Yes.  I revised my original expectation.  Notice I didn’t say I lowered my expectation, because what I came to understand is that resisting and reacting each time she had an accident would only jeopardize my happiness and hers.  That happiness seemed like a higher priority than my original expectation.  I didn’t flat out stop trying to potty train her, but I wasn’t willing to dismiss her, abandon her, or label her a failure if she never came around to it.

Take notice this week of your expectations, and begin to ask yourself why exactly they feel so important to you.

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