Monday, September 14, 2009

Lower your Expectations – Kanye West is Consistent

By: Chalene Johnson

I so look forward to the MTV VMA's every year. Each year the show seems to one up the previous year! I just devour every minute of the fashion gone wrong, the over the top performances, the theatrics, the celebrity couples, the rants, the comedy... every hot, messy minute of it. With the exception of the host, who was NOT funny. I still, after two years, have no idea who he is and why he has been given this honor and who, by the way, really needs a stylist - skinny jeans and vest? Really? Not so much. But aside from the host, I thought this year’s show was captivating from start to finish. Pink. I'm speechless. Wow! Beyonce, when my son was 18 months he went through this stage where he would get really, really excited. He didn't know how to express his feelings, so instead, he would just open wide and bite down hard... on me! I wanted to bite Beyonce. Lady GaGa: I had no interest in her until this years VMA's. I thought she was a just a gimmick. Wrong. She is wildly talented, demented and a freak show that you can't take your eyes off. I'm dying to see her live!

But the big news of the night was, of course, Kanye West storming the stage and ripping the microphone away from sweet innocent, doe-eyed, 19 year old Taylor Swift during her attempt to deliver an acceptance speech. I may be the only person in the bloggesphere to say this, but I wasn't stunned or surprised in the least. Why? Because he's done this before. Kanye has had previous award show rants about Gretchen Wilson, Justice na Simian, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. He's a big spoiled bratty baby. His actions were rude, childish, thoughtless and small; but they were completely predictable.

Most people will tell you through their actions what you can and should expect from them in the future. We spend so much time being upset and disappointed when people don't behave or respond as we "wish" they would. I think we can learn a lesson in human predictability from Kanye's outburst.

I have great parents. Still married after 40 years, Marge and Bill didn’t drink or do drugs and raised my sister, brother and me to be good upstanding citizens. They are, however, late to everything. Because of my Dad’s compulsion to fit in one more things; my parents have missed a few things including thanksgiving dinners, flights, and the beginning of almost every movie, to name a few. I love them, but I have learned to expect them to arrive late. One of my dearest friends has never once called to make plans for the two of us. She waits for me to do the planning. I used to take it personally and “keep score”. I adore her, but I needed to accept that she’s simply one of those people most comfortable in the “passenger seat”. My kids are most demanding of my time when I have a cut throat deadline and really need to focus. When my husband has gone beyond 3 hours without food, he’s…well…shall we say…easily agitated.

These things used to frustrate me. You probably have someone in your life that routinely has you in a fit; and once again they have disappointed, frustrated, offended, or inconvenienced you. How often are you disappointed by the same set of circumstances, same friend, same frustrating co-worker or the same relative? Why don’t they just see the light, strand up and fly straight once and for all?

Ironically, the person who disappointed you most recently tried to tell you this was going to happen. Forget what you believe to be right or wrong; if you want to predict how people will behave, just glance at what they’ve done in the past. If your Mom or Dad were selfish or abusive toward you as a child; why would you think he or she would miraculously become a better person now that you’re an adult? If you have a friend who is always late, why would you foolishly believe this time they might be on time? If your sister is a total flake, what would possess you to ask her to help you with something important?

Response: “This time I was really hoping it would be different.”
Reality: People rarely change.

A friend of mine has shared stories with me of her horrific childhood and the pain she endured at the hands of her abusive, alcoholic single mother. Despite the cards dealt to her, my friend is a fantastic mother and a wonderful friend! I’m very attracted to resilient people. This girl defines resilient. She’s conquered her past, ended the cycle of abuse and created the life she deserves. Yet, several times a year, in a moment of weakness she invites this woman (who doesn’t really deserve the title of Mother) back into her life. Seduced by the fantasy of a relationship repaired, undermined by her deep rooted longing for the love and care she was denied; she allows her back in. Though not as trusting as she was when she was a child, there’s still a part of her that believes that this time things will be different and each time…it remains the same.

Your abuser will probably never drop to their knees and deliver the gut wrenching apology you deserve, no matter how many opportunities you create for them. Don’t expect people to change by creating more opportunities. They will only prove that people rarely change. It is what it is. They are who they are. Take it or leave it, but be realistic. The most that you can or should expect from people is exactly what they have done in the past. Should they do more, be more, or rise to the occasion…well then you can be pleasantly surprised. But to be surprised when someone acts or responds exactly as they always have is waste of your precious energy.

Be an optimist, but when it comes to people, a healthy dose of realism is required.

Why be disappointed by things you should expect. Most people will behave tomorrow as they did today. Most people are consistent: consistently reliable, consistently in a heap of drama, consistently negative, consistently taking charge, or just consistently inconsistent. If your best friend remembers your birthday a week late each year, why be disappointed this year? It has nothing to do with her adoration for you. Keeping track of dates is not her strong suit. It’s not personal. Get over it.

Unrealistic expectations are a sure-fire way to stir up stress levels and harbor futile frustration. It is useless. You can expect that your unreliable babysitter will not show up on the one day you need her most. You can expect that the “angry” woman who works the front desk will be just as unhappy today as she was yesterday. Expect that your toddler will use a Sharpie™ to make his mark on your beautiful white couch. Your boss, who hasn’t given you an “atta-boy” in six months, is not planning a parade in your honor. Accepting these things as fact does not mean that you’re rolling over, or condoning them. Rather, accepting them is to acknowledge that you can’t control the actions, thoughts or behaviors of anyone other than YOU! Expect that which is likely, predictable and realistic based on past experience and then relax when it happens.

Don’t invite a house full of kids over and not expect a mess. Don’t throw a party if you’re a clean freak. Don’t rely on someone who has been unreliable. Don’t expect a guy who has cheated on his wife won’t do it with you. Don’t think that the girl, who gossips about everyone, won’t do the same to you. Don’t believe that your dysfunctional parent(s) will suddenly see the errors of their past. Don't let Kanye West get anywhere near a microphone at an award show if you're not ready for his obnoxious rant!

The opening line of the book, 'The Road Less Traveled' by Scott M. Peck begins simply, 'Life is difficult.' Peck’s message isn’t negative. It’s the truth. If we expect that life will be difficult, we will be better equipped to handle its challenges and more likely to tighten our seatbelts and enjoy the excitement of the bumpy ride. Children of healthy marriages expect that relationships take work and that conflict will arise and that loving caring partners compromise, apologize and make-up!

When we accept that difficulties are a part of life, when we consider that most people are predictable, when we expect imperfection and malfunction, when we anticipate having to do the job ourselves and set expectations realistically; we lead a happier more predictable existence. When someone disappoints, frustrates or drives you crazy, just smile and think to yourself, “Well, I expected that.” You have two choices: 1. Accept who they are and set your expectations realistically or 2. Decide that you won’t tolerate the behavior and drive your car in a different direction. Changing the other person is not an option. You only have the power to change you.

So, set your expectations for others where they should be. Don’t take it personally. People do a great job broadcasting their next move; just pay attention to what they’ve done in the past.

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Zoe said...

Great post, Chalene. I'd never read your blog before.

It's so hard to release our expectations even after being let down so many times. I guess that's human nature. I'm not sure why anyone was surprised about Kanye, either. I got sick of hearing words come out of his mouth years ago.

I know you've heard this before, but you're very inspiring. Thanks! said...

Good news: Lady Gaga will do a second U.S. tour in late 09 until 2010.
Bad news: It's a tandem tour with KANYE WEST! Meaning one won't open the show for the other. They will both perform the entire show.

So much for leaving after watching Gaga.

"FAME KILLS", don't miss it! The VMAs was nothing compared to her own stage!

Pam said...

Chalene -
Thank you for blogging! I enjoy reading what you have to say! It is always thought provoking.

Anonymous said...

So true! Thanks for the clarity. Sometimes it's so hard not to hope the people you love will just get a freakin' clue! :) Of course, there are probably things about me that make them feel the same way.

Heidi said...

Thanks, Chalene! I totally needed this exact advice today. I might even laminate it and read it weekly! :)

screwdestiny said...

Great post, Chalene. We could all use to learn this lesson. I've tried to simply remove people from my life if I can't handle something about them, because I too have learned that people rarely change.

HighClassLowIncome said...

Definitely does not surprise me. It is consistent behavior for him..

Sara said...

Chalene, don't worry it is all set up by MTV just like every other MTV awards show where something big like this always happens to get everyone talking. The last MTV movie awards had eminem throw a scene and almost beat up Bruno then leave which later was admitted by eminem that it was set up by MTV. There is security at every possible entrance area to the stage, I don't believe that they would just let someone on stage, even if they were a celebrity. If they were to do so they would have waited until Taylor was finished her speech. The scene was highly edited and you don't see Kanye even coming on stage-the cameras are on pink and only return once Kanye is already there. Re-watching the scene, Taylor Lautner and Shakira don't look surprised at all.

The other one said...

Very insightful! I hadn't thought about things that way before.
Thank you for the post Chalene~

CT Olson said...

This is either a brilliant observation and great advice or just a cynical and somewhat dim view of human nature. Well I don't know but the upside is if you arm yourself with lowered expectations of people, then if something good happens you'll be pleasantly surprised. And if not, well at least you'll have your sanity haha thanks.

FitterTwit said...

This is SOOOO amazing! Thank you so much for taking the time to post this and sharing this bit of genius with the rest of us. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!<---SUPER SONIC HIGH FIVE...TOTALLY! :D

JENC said...

Best blog I have read and so true! This gave a whole different outlook on the the disappointment I feel when someone lets me down. But reality is they are pretty consistent and I shouldn't build them up so much. I really appreciate your blogs. Thank you Chalene, I will try to remember and work on this.

beachmom15 said...

I think his 15 minutes is up!