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Realistic Expectations & Control Issues

Realistic Expectations & Control Issues

Have you ever hoped to influence an outcome of a situation? Or possibly attempt to manipulate someone's response to result in your desired outcome? We all do it, whether consciously or unconsciously. Depending on the situation and/or interaction, it can be looked at as expected human behavior or as a negative behavior. In this article, I will suggest that often times we, as human creatures, struggle to realize realistic and rational expectations as well as understand the things in which we can and cannot control.

Let's start with realistic expectations. It's important that when we are interacting with others, particularly friends, family, or partners, that our expectations of them are realistic and rational. We can hold others to a standard that is just not realistically achievable. For example, a husband expects his wife to always "say the right things." He is disappointed when she disagrees with him or gives a response that he does not like. This would be a form of unrealistic expectations that he is placing on his wife. You can even go as far as labeling it as a cognitive distortion if the husband feels that because his wife "does not say the right thing all the time" that she does not love him.

So how does this play into something called "locus of control?" Locus of control is what a single person has control over in his/her life. This person is in control of his/her emotions, thoughts, actions, and reactions. No one "makes" you do anything. You are in charge of your responses to situations and interactions. You, and only you are in control of YOU. Consequently, you cannot control another person's emotions, thoughts, actions, and reactions. That person is only in charge of himself/herself. This means that you must take responsibility for yourself, that even if you want another person to do something or treat you differently, ultimately it is up to that person to make those actions, not you.

This can be a difficult concept to come to terms with as we have a tendency to think we can "make" someone do something. Understanding that setting realistic expectations and controlling what you can control, takes a large burden of stress and anxiety over feeling responsible for someone's thoughts, feelings, and actions. It also is helpful in not setting up situations and interactions as having a negative or disappointing outcome (setting up for most probable failure).

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