How to avoid “lighting a fuse of conflict”?


If you are like a lot of people, on this day, January 2nd, you are still giving your best effort to follow through on a New Year’s resolution you’ve made.

Somewhere along the line, a vision for a better you flashed across your mind and attracted you. Most likely, that “better you” vision continued to captivate you, until the appeal of fulfilling it crossed a line, and you decided you were going  to seek it out and make it happen. Good for you.

In the same way that we can get a vision for something that mentally and emotionally captures us and we decide we must pursue it, so too, there is something else that can instill a vision for the future in our minds and emotions — EXPECTATIONS.

Expectations are all around us.  They are powerful and if we don’t learn to manage them, they can be a source of all kinds of problems.

So, if you want to be a “better you” this year and more fully enjoy the days ahead, besides following through on any resolutions you might have made, please take the time to get your head around this important part of every day life–EXPECTATIONS.

Businessman with Head in Hand

Businessman with Head in Hand

Let me give you a few examples of how common and disruptive expectations can be:

* for months and months, you have been planning a family vacation.  The idea of getting away from all the stresses of your life and spending a relaxing week with your family is going to be a dream come true.  Well, one hour into the “dream week’, your car experiences a flat tire.  Well, for many of us, the “dream week” just got shattered. “AHHH, this is so frustrating!  Why me?  And Johnny stop touching your sibling! And everyone just give daddy some quiet!!!!”

Sure, no one wants to have to unpack a car to get a spare tire out and have to change it, but stuff happens.  Rather than just dealing with it and moving on, by our focus on “this wasn’t supposed to happen in my “dream week vision”, we’ve now greatly changed the “dream week” landscape.

Now, besides taking an unexpected half hour detour to change a tire (in the big scheme of things, not really that big a deal), now, we also have to deal with many hurt relationships and stress (that you caused) in the family car.

*How about having an expectation, after a long hard day of work that you are going to come home to a nice, hot meal in a quiet house?  When you walk in the door, you are surprised to find the kitchen table covered with your wife’s family pictures and a scrap-book album she’s trying to put together.

You walk in the door with a surprised look on your face, which your wife quickly focuses on, and she apologizes because the time just got away from her.

Rather than diffusing the situation and keeping things in a bigger perspective, you focus on the expectation you had, and make some negative comment.   You guessed it.  Now, you find that you have lit a fuse of conflict. Your wife goes on to defend her scrap-book efforts all the while, more and more time gets wasted before dinner.

And what was at the heart of this conflict–an expectation in your mind of dinner and quiet evening that never occurred. If you take a step back to gain perspective, would having had to wait 20-30 more minutes been that big a deal before you ate dinner? No. Again, the culprit in this negative situation was your expectation and clinging to it.

So, be on the look out for “EXPECTATIONS” in your life and fight to keep them under control.  If you don’t expect things from others, when they do them, you will be grateful, as opposed to non-appreciative.  Because, after all, when we expect someone or something to occur and they do it, we don’t tend to be grateful for them doing it, because we reason, they were only doing what we expected them to do in the first place.   Try to lower your expectations level and see if that doesn’t make you a more positive person.

Blessings on you in the new year!


One thought on “How to avoid “lighting a fuse of conflict”?

  1. Very insightful. I have the habit of saying we often get too disappointed because we place very high expectations on others. We expect too much, then we get hurt when our expectations aren’t met.
    I’ve decided to lower my expectations; I don’t expect anyone to do for me what God alone can. We are all human and very fallible…

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