Resentments Under Construction

This morning I was sitting here trying to get my head around how I would do the seven tasks on my ‘absolutely, have to do now’ list; I estimate it will probably take me about eight (uninterrupted) hours to do them, and do them well.

You see, I only have four hours in which to get most, if not all, of the items done. 

(Actually, I just went back and re-read my first line, and started snickering at the word ‘uninterrupted’. When was the last time you or I or any of us had ‘uninterrupted’ time? Honestly, sometimes I crack myself up. I truly do.) 

I was trying to figure out how to squeeze and shove and shoehorn those seven tasks into my paltry four hours (okay, let’s make that three and 1/3 hours to account for the inevitable interruptions).

As I worried and fretted and plotted and planned, I ended up whittling what I’d come to think of as ‘The Must-Do Seven’ down to ‘The Gang of Four’. And I realized that I still wasn’t going to be able to complete those four.

By now I was visualizing what would happen if I didn’t get all four tasks done. What would be the result?

The truth was that three of the four were crucial preparation for a meeting I have later this afternoon. At least crucial in my mind.

And if I didn’t get them finished in time? What would happen? What was I scared of?

Well, I might look unprepared. As if I hadn’t thought things through, that my standard operating procedure might rightly be labelled ‘half-assed’. I might not make my case (for a particular project) as well as I’d like.

I might look foolish.

Then I remembered a phrase I’d read in someone’s comment on a favorite blog of mine, Roxie’s Gravel and Rust. (My apologies, I don’t remember the particular blog post or the commenter.)

‘Expectations are just resentments under construction.’

Wow. Let that one sink in a bit. Powerful stuff.

Let’s go over that again. It’s definitely worth it.

‘Expectations are just resentments under construction.’

I’m all for personal accountability, holding each person responsible for their words and actions. But this quote reminds us that accountability starts with ourselves. At the end of the day, the only person’s conduct you can control is your own.

Setting up expectations, either good or bad, may lead to disappointment or resentment when they are or are not met. And it can skew our own thinking, actions and responses.

How many times do we start pre-supposing what someone else will do or say or how they will react in light of a particular situation? Why do we waste precious time, energy and effort worrying and fretting about something that is not in our control?

Why do we spin ourselves up, assuming we know how someone else will act or respond? We end up going into our encounters in a defensive or, even worse, an offensive posture.

If you hold yourself accountable, then it drives your thoughts and actions. You’ll do the best you are capable of under the circumstances, and you’ll deal with the response accordingly. Hopefully with honesty, self-confidence, humility and grace. 

Nothing more, nothing less.

So I’m going to start plugging away at the seven four three most important items. I’ll get done what I can, and I’ll go into today’s meeting as prepared as I can.

Not apologizing left and right for what I wasn’t able to get done. Not assuming that the other person’s response will be noncommittal, questioning, or negative.

I’ll go in without expectations, and therefore without half-built resentments.

Ever find yourself  pre-supposing what others will do or say? Do you waste time, energy and effort unnecessarily building expectations that may or may not come to be? I’d love to hear about it.


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