closeup of car tail lightContinuing with my pondering of pet peeves this month led me to the behavior of tailgating, or driving dangerously close to someone’s bumper. While living in the Northeast, driving was always an interesting challenge. However, I never noticed as many tailgaters as I do since moving to the Southeast.

I again started wondering,“What is it that was causing me to see a more than usual number of tailgaters?” The thought of it being inconsiderate and even dangerous (what if I had to slam on my brakes?) crossed my mind, but then I started looking at it from a different point of view. What was going through the mind of the tailgater? Were they in a hurry? Yet, that didn’t seem to resolve the seeming attraction.

As I encountered yet another tailgater I thought, “Does this person really “expect” that if they get closer and closer, I will for some reason speed up?” Of course, my favorite bumper sticker in this situation is “the closer you get, the slower I go”, which means they might expect it, but the opposite is likely to happen. This led me think further about expectations.

We all have certain expectations based on what we experienced in our families of origin, the places where we grew up, the religious teachings we were exposed to, and the interpretations we made of right and wrong.

  • Do you expect that people will return your phone calls or emails in a specific amount of time?
  • What about expectations set in your job related to salaries and bonuses?
  • If you undertake an activity, do you expect to achieve the same results and outcomes as others?

This again had me thinking about various times in my life when I had expectations of how others would treat me, or of how an activity that worked for someone else “should” also work for me. There was one activity in particular that numerous individuals had said I “must” do. I made various attempts, followed the steps that people recommended, asked for feedback, but it wasn’t working. Feeling it should and frustrated that it wasn’t, led me down the path of comparison which created more frustration.

Finally I decided that I would follow a lesson I had first learned in my NLP trainings – to detach from the outcome. With that decision, I was able to look at this “activity challenge” more from the point of view of it not being on my path at the moment, combined with continued curiosity as to why it wasn’t working without feeling the frustration. This experience has opened me up to look at other ways to approach the “activity challenge” and the decision to focus more on activities that are working.

  • How often do you let others know what you are expecting of them?
  • When in a group training do you share your expectations or intentions?
  • Do you find yourself disappointed when things don’t work out as you thought they should?

Take a look at your pet peeves, turn them around, andsee what they say about your expectations of others or of yourself. As I continued to see more tailgaters, I noticed another perspective – certain tailgaters go from tailgating one car to the next to the next. Does it get them the outcome they are looking for? Well, when I see them next to me at the traffic light five minutes after they passed me, or notice others slowing down in front of them, I remembered the saying, “If you always do what you always did, you will get what you’ve always got”.

In what area of life are the same behaviors resulting in your inability to achieve an outcome? Contact Systems of Change for a free 30 minute Clarity session to explore further.

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