Managing Expectations and Feelings Amid COVID Isolation
Posted on May 8, 2020 1:56 PM by Melissa Gentry
Categories: Homeowner Articles
We all have expectations about everything in our life. We expect our family, friends and neighbors to behave in certain ways and when they don’t, we often fall into a state of anger. We expect that we can leave the house when we want to. Get our hair cut when we want to. Go out to dinner when we want to. Our expectations are not just limited to those people who we know, but also to just about everyone we come in contact with or depend upon. We expect our leaders to make decisions that we believe to be right. When they fail to meet those expectations we get angry.
Often, what we expect of others is a reflection of what we ultimately expect of ourselves. When I am in a hurry I expect others to respect that and get going. When I am frustrated I expect others to understand that and make everything right. When I am overworked I expect others to sympathize with me and help out. When others don’t behave according to our expectations, we get angry. Learning to be gentler with our selves goes a long way towards being gentler towards others.
Anger makes us more aggressive and limits the way we think about and treat others including friends, family and neighbors. Anger is usually one-pointed: outward towards someone else. In the act of being angry, instead of feeling closer to the object of our anger, we create even greater distance. We isolate them, but more importantly, we isolate ourselves. In this time of isolation we need these relationships more than ever.
One of the keys to avoiding anger is to transform our habit of expectations. This does not mean that we allow people to run all over us, or our community. It means I transform what I expect of others into an understanding that no one can read each other’s mind and their reasons for doing what they do usually have nothing to do with me. My neighbor doesn’t let his dog poop on my lawn to make me angry, he does so because he hasn’t read or understood our community’s rules.
Transforming our expectations into a greater understanding of other people’s challenges and sufferings will do quite a bit to disarm our anger and increase our own happiness. We all can just get along. The key? Communication. It’s often the best way to prevent and resolve conflict before it reaches the legal system. You don’t have to be friends or spend time together to achieve a peaceful coexistence, but you should try to be a good neighbor and follow these tips:
Say hello. At the mailbox, while walking the dog or when you see a moving van arrive, introduce yourself. Learn your neighbors’ names and regularly offer a friendly greeting.
Provide a heads up. If you’re planning a construction project, altering your landscaping (after submitting an ACC request), contact your neighbors beforehand.
Do unto others. Treat neighbors as you would like to be treated. Be considerate about noise from vehicles, stereos, pets, etc.
Know your differences. Make an effort to understand each other. Differences in age, ethnic background and years in the neighborhood can lead to different expectations or misunderstandings.
Consider the view. Keep areas of your property that others can see presentable.
Appreciate them. If the neighbors do something you like, let them know. They’ll be pleased you noticed, and it’ll be easier to talk later if they do something you don’t like.
Stay positive. Most people don't try to create problems. If a neighbor does something that irritates you, don’t assume it was deliberate.
Talk honestly. Tolerance is important, but don’t let a real irritation go because it seems unimportant or hard to discuss. Let your neighbors know if something they do annoys.
Be respectful. Talk directly to your neighbors if there’s a problem. Gossiping with others can damage relationships and create trouble.
Remain calm. If a neighbor mentions a problem they have with you, thank them for the input. You don’t have to agree or justify any behavior. Wait for any anger to subside before responding.
Listen carefully. When discussing a problem, try to understand your neighbor’s position and why he or she feels that way.
Take your time. Take a break to think about what you and your neighbor have discussed. Arrange to finish the conversation at another time.
Effective communication can only occur when there is a process of two-way listening. Anger prevents us from honestly listening to anything but our anger. When we transform our expectations and reduce our opportunities to get angry, we put ourselves in a position to make better choices about how we relate to the people around us and, in turn, how they relate to us. When everyone works together, anything is possible!