How do expectations distort our view of reality?
“Teddy! Hurry up! We are going to miss the next train!” shrieked the frazzled mother as she frantically dragged the little boy through the revolving turnstile.
As another train shrieked towards the nearest platform, the endless sea of bodies shuffled sluggishly towards the open doors.
“Teddy, I know it is loud! Stop plugging your ears and hold onto my hand!” screamed the exasperated mother.
When the pair finally shoved their way onto the train and collapsed into a set of orange plastic seats, the mother let out a sign of relief. But before she could even settle in, she already felt a violent tug on the sleeve of her jacket.
An angry woman shouted at her, “Tell your kid to let go of my Louis Vuitton shawl!”
As the mother looked down, she was horrified to see her giddy toddler tugging furiously at the silky fabric.
“No! Teddy! Let go!” pleaded the mother as she desperately engaged in an embarrassing game of tug-of-war.
“What a terrible mother!” hissed a nearby woman under her breath.
When the mangled scarf was finally pried out of his grubby fingers, Teddy threw a tantrum and screamed nonstop. His defeated mother buried her mascara streaked face in her backpack as she tried to hide her tears from all the judgmental glares.
When she finally tucked Teddy into bed later that night, she took her last sip of red wine and made a final wish before collapsing on the couch. She wished that the nonstop judgement she felt would one day go away.
The next morning, she awoke with an opened magazine plastered to her face. The title of the article read in big bold letters, “I have autism”. In that moment, she tore the page out and hastily taped it to her son’s backpack.
Even though Teddy still pulled and tugged on various bags and straps on the train and screamed at the top of his lungs, something felt different. When people saw the tattered sign on his backpack they looked at him with compassion. They even told the mother she was doing a great job.
Expectations are a powerful means of transforming how people view and see each situation and person. The more accurately our expectations align with reality, the less frustration and anger we will feel.