The Danger of Setting Completion Dates For Things We Can’t Control

I have learnt that time and expectations are two very dangerous things to try to predict and manage. I learnt it through years of dealing with medical conditions, but now it seems like everyone affected by COVID-19 is starting to learn it too. 

We fall in the trap of creating expectations that things will change by a certain date, but with no evidence to back it up, especially when things are out of our control. We say “Things will be better by Christmas” assuming that will be long enough of a time frame for something to fix itself. We edge closer to the deadline we place and start getting anxious, it slowly dawning on us that it isn’t going to be fixed in time. By the time the deadline arrives, we are in a state of disappointment and grief, wishing things would be different and railing against them. 

Our problem lies here: 

We don’t expect things to last longer than we are prepared to cope with them.  

We can’t imagine it taking that long to fix. 

We don’t want to accept that it could take that long. 

We are holding back from feeling the disappointment or grief that is at bay. 

When we experience a primary problem, such as illness or a global pandemic, we then go on to create expectations which become a secondary problem and this is where suffering comes into play. We can’t avoid the primary problem, but we can prevent the secondary effects of suffering unnecessarily. 

We have to be careful of what we think and check our expectations. 

We all know that at the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve that all the issues from the previous year won’t disappear. But we don’t like to think that they will follow us into the next year either. 

When I first got sick I thought it may only last a short while – a week or two. Then I got used to the idea that it might last a few weeks. Then months. Gradually I learnt to practice acceptance that life might continue to be like this – with varying degrees of wellness and illness. I don’t know what’s in store for me, but I’m careful not to predict that it will be better or worse in the future. 

For me, I’ve been able to get through each day at a time because I don’t know how long this will last. However, if someone had said to me that I would still be dealing with medical conditions and intense pain over 6 years later, I wouldn’t have been able to handle it knowing how much effort it would take to get through the years. It would be too overwhelming. 

So we take baby steps, we manage our expectations and hope for the best. 

Hope is what gets us through the difficult times. 

How to cope: 

One day at a time. 

Feel all of your emotions. 

Let it be what it is. 

Practice acceptance. 

Know it is not going to be like this forever. It will be good again someday. 

Take good care Readers, I’ll keep the light on. 

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