General Semantics Advanced Thinking
A System-Discipline Concerned with the Sanity of the Race & the Individual
On Expectations

by Milton Dawes

In our expectations and disappointments, we might benefit a great deal from remembering and applying some general semantics principles such as non-identity, non-allness, degrees of, and indexing, among others.

We might start out with a premise that <“Others are not in this world to live up to my expectations.” This does not mean that as individuals, we do not behave responsibly and dependably when we make promises or commit ourselves to some action.

Often when we ‘feel’ disappointed, we might find ourselves saying “I am disappointed”. In doing this, we allow the disappointment to become a pervasive and invasive allness influence, modifying further thinking. We forget that a disappointment in one area of our lives, or with one aspect of a situation, leaves many areas where we did not ‘feel’ disappointed but ‘felt’ satisfied.

Suppose instead of saying, “I am disappointed,” we say with awareness, “I ‘feel’ disappointed”? In doing this, we leave a certain amount of “I-ness” intact. This residual “I” can do something. I can feel other than disappointed. “I am disappointed” in a sense covers the whole “I” and leaves very little “I” for recuperating action. (Please work at getting a ‘feel’ for the ideas behind these words. Picking on the words won’t help much. General semantics is sometimes easier done than said. ) Suppose instead of ‘thinking’, ‘feeling’ and saying, “I am disappointed” you said “At this time, I ‘feel’ a certain degree of disappointment about this aspect of the situation”? (Notice how long it takes to say these words when the words are given the form of an awareness.) Could this micro-mapping approach make a significant difference in our management of disappointments, compared to the macro-mapping “I am disappointed”?

Speaking for myself, as a precautionary act, I often remind myself that Universe (others, friends, relatives, situations, things, institutions, organizations, etc.) do not exist to meet my expectations. I remind myself that other individuals follow their own pattern of rhythms. Even with my best efforts and their best intentions, their rhythms of might not be in synchrony, are not identical with mine. In a Universe where we do not know all about anything or anyone, disappointments are unavoidable – we ought to expect some.

In managing disappointments, we might take an experimental approach – a “let’s see how this turns out” approach. The result could be fewer disappointments and less severe ones. In an experiment, there is no failure – one discovers something. It might not be what we expect – but whatever happens gives us clues about what’s going on. So often, we forget to pay attention to, or consider more significant, what actually happened. We are usually so taken up, so involved with what didn’t happen, and how we ‘feel’ about this, we forget to say, “Hmmm … things work this way too!”

While we are on the subject of expectations, let’s not forget about “s.ex”. No, not “sex” – “s.ex” here stands for “secret expectations”. These refer to expectations we have, known only to ourselves. Yet we are likely to ‘feel’ disappointed, and hold responsible for our disappointment, a partner, a friend, an employee, a supervisor, and so on, when these expectations were not met.

Keeping these factors in ‘mind’, we might discover that our disappointments are less intense. And when we feel disappointed, we will see the experience as a fantastic learning opportunity. Through disappointments we can learn more about how we ourselves go about things, how others go about things, and how organizations, groups, Universe works.

And by the way, it might be worthwhile to remember this. Whenever we get, or find whatever we were looking for, we will find that it comes with many other things. From this we might consider that a disappointment might not be all bad.

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