Life is messy. Whose there to help you clean up?

A little over a year ago, a storm rolled through our city. It isn’t unusual to have storms, but this one was a massive storm causing damage all over our state. We were lucky to only lose a couple of trees to the storm. But we were even luckier to be surrounded be other people to help us clean up.

Derecho Damage 2020

When life is messy it helps to have others around to help clean up the mess. I’ve found that most of the time the people I’ve been the most vulnerable with have also been the ones who are most willing to support me. I’m not recommending that you just go up to complete strangers and share your deepest most intimate moments. Rather I think it’s interesting that when you share the mess with others most people are willing to help. Similarly most of the people who have been vulnerable with me I also find myself willing to help.

But there is a balance to it all. If I overshare with you then it suddenly becomes awkward. Or if I share a ton and you don’t share anything then it feels a little lopsided. Similarly if I’m the one who always starts a conversation, or initiates an invitation then I could suddenly feel like I’m trying harder than the other person without ever really talking about it. And that’s where expectations are such an important piece of relationships. When we have expectations rather stated or inferred, it puts pressure on a relationship. Sometimes pressure is a good thing and shows that a relationship can handle stress. Other times expectations outweigh the stress that a relationship can handle and causes boredom, regret, jealousy, or any number of relationship killers.

How to deal with expectations?

  1. Communicate. In relationships one of the easiest ways to deal with expectations is to communicate. Whether it is with friends, family, a significant other, a co-worker, talking solves a lot of stated or unstated issues. When there is a small problem, learning to communicate before it becomes a bigger problem is a great skill to learn. That way when bigger problems do arise you’re already in the habit of being able to talk about things.
  2. Be authentic. We’re not called to be people we’re not in relationships. When we pretend to like things we don’t, or care about things we don’t really care about this typically can only last for a short period of time. If you were building trust in that time, you’ll probably ruin some of that trust when you tell the truth, which might ruin the relationship more than just admitting you don’t like something in the first place.
  3. Understand that not all relationships will last forever. Most people view successful relationships as the ones that last forever such as a dating relationship ending in marriage. But sometimes healthy and successful relationships are when you realize that you’re not the right people for each other but that you’ve figured out a clue of the types of people you want to spend more time with. Or maybe the other person is moving to a new and exciting job and instead of feeling bad about the fact that you won’t really get to spend time together you can savor the time that you did spend together.
  4. Think about the relationships you cherish and foster them without smothering the fire. The way to build a fire and a relationship is to give it fuel to keep it burning but to also make sure it has a chance to breathe. When relationships are too tangled it can have a tendency to feel overwhelming for one of the sides in the relationship. A healthy relationship gives enough time to allow the other person to be their own person.

These tips won’t solve every problem or every relationship. But when life gets messy hopefully the people that you’re expecting to show up are there fore you. Leave a comment about a time when someone showed up for you.

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