Beware Stealth Expectations

January 18, 2016
January 18, 2016 auroraremember

Beware Stealth Expectations

I just about lost it this week!

Between a perfect storm of factors, including hormones, work stress and misplacing an important document in the move, I ended up accidentally triple dosing myself with ibuprofen and wallowing in my own stress drama for a bit. But with all of the factors contributing to my angst, the number one killer was what Brene Brown calls “Stealth Expectations.”

According to Brene, in her new book Rising Strong, stealth expectations are those expectations we don’t even know we have that set us up for significant disappointment, resentment and shame when they are not realized. She gives the example of how she and her husband would get in arguments because weekends when they were both in town seemed more difficult than weekends when only one of them was home with the kids. This was because when they were home alone, they had no expectations of getting things done, but when the other adult was around they unconsciously loaded up expectations of what they could get done in that time.

For me I have seen this in our move because at the old house, we gave up any expectations of having things a certain way because it never seemed worth the effort. Now that we are in our new space, we are navigating through our own stealth expectations of how things should be.

At work, what put me over the edge was realizing that while I didn’t take on extra days strictly for the money, I was expecting to work and get paid more this month to accommodate the extra load, but because of snow day and holidays I had to fit it into my existing work days. That combined with the fact that my usually “easy” position had several unexpected and urgent situations to deal with.

I used to handle this kind of load all the time, but now that I wasn’t expecting it, I got a little bitter. It reminded me of how I managed at work back when I was sleep deprived with a colicky infant, going through divorce and handling several legal cases, but now when I get one night of interrupted sleep I have no idea how I functioned back then! I functioned because I didn’t expect things to be any different.

Listening to Rising Strong (which is totally worth a listen because Brene reads it herself and is hilarious), I am realizing how much better my life is when I let go of my stealth expectations and how it’s good to reality check myself on occasion when those expectations come up.

What are some stealth expectations that have gotten in your way in the past?

Beware stealth expectations

Comments (3)

  1. Thank you, Aurora! As a stay-at-home grandma, it can be tough…I feel that I’m expected to accomplish a lot since “it’s only one baby and he takes naps”…Not one family member has ever said this out loud, so I guess I created this expectation myself…Thanks for your honesty and strength!I look forward to getting hold of Brene Brown’s book soon!


    • auroraremember

      Yeah, that can definitely be tricky! I find humor about myself so helpful – which is I think why I love Brene Brown so much because she can laugh at her not so shiny moments!

  2. Absolutely! My hubby is good at calling out my stealth expectations even when I didn’t see them myself, can be helpful to have folks in your life who will call attention to how you’re setting yourself up for frustration.

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