Can Disappointment Be A Sign That You Have Unmet Expectations?

by Reid on May 17, 2017

Upset Young Couple Having Problems With Sex.What if disappointment were a powerful indicator that you have unspoken expectations?

Learn more with Reid Mihalko from and Cathy Vartuli from

Cathy: So Reid, you’ve shared with me that you think that, are you going to pick on me now? That people can most determine when they have expectations because they experience disappointment. Explain. 

Reid: Yeah, you’re upset because your expectations didn’t get met. 

Cathy: I’m Cathy Vartuli from and this is Reid Mihalko from and if you wait a second, I’ll torture him until he shares more. 

Reid: Okay, so what’s your point? People have expectations, they get upset when they don’t get met. When expectations get met, you don’t notice it because everything’s fine. 

Cathy: Right, but re-framing how we look at disappointment can be really powerful. Disappointment in general is something to be avoided and run away from at all times. That’s how society teaches us to handle it but if we start looking at it as a way to evaluate where we might have expectations and need to have a communication with someone and make agreements instead of expectations, then it stops being all this horrible thing to avoid and something that’s a really good indicator light for something that needs to be adjusted. 

Reid: Okay, so you have your disappointment, you play detective, you’re like oh my goodness, I must have expectations. 

Cathy: Yes. 

Reid: You figure out what those expectations are. 

Cathy: Sometimes with the person, like you were great at doing dishes tonight, but I’m going to use that example, so if I cooked and my friend didn’t do the dishes afterwards … 

Reid: You’d be pissed and they would never be invited back again and problem solved. 

Cathy: They would never. 

Reid: New friend. No? 

Cathy: Sometimes you can actually salvage the friendship. Sometimes. If you wanted to, you could sit down with the friend and say I noticed that I have disappointment, are you willing to explore this with me? 

Reid: Okay. 

Cathy: Some friends, sometimes you have to do it with someone else and sometimes you have to do it with yourself, but it’s really cool when you can do it with the person. 

Reid: Okay. 

Cathy: Again, you were great at doing the dishes, I’m using that example because you were actually stellar at it and the kitchen looks great. 

Reid: That’s why I get invited back. 

Cathy: Yes. If you hadn’t done the dishes, I could say, I’m noticing some disappointment Reid, would you be willing to sit down with me and help me explore this? 

Reid: Okay. I still want to be snarky. 

Cathy: I know, I can tell. 

Reid: Now here, so yes, so then we figure out that you had an expectation of me doing the dishes, but you didn’t voice it. 

Cathy: Right, so you didn’t do anything wrong. Until there’s a verbal agreement, it’s really not anything wrong. If we can discuss it, and you maybe go I hate doing dishes, there’s zero chance of me doing dishes, I will be glad to pay for takeout food or whatever but there’s no chance. Then we start having a dialog, we start being really vulnerable and real with each other. I think that’s powerful. 

Reid: Okay. 

Cathy: I think, I’m curious about, you’re being difficult. 

Reid: I’m not being difficult. Did you have an expectation that I would be easy? 

Cathy: No, I knew you’d be difficult. 

Reid: A lot of people do. A lot of people do. 

Cathy: You’re easy in some ways. 

Reid: Yes. 

Cathy: Yeah. I was hoping that you would contribute more, because it was your phrase that actually triggered this. 

Reid: You’re being very eloquent and you have this whole idea wrapped up. I couldn’t have said it better myself, please continue. 

Cathy: I like the idea of taking an emotion that is generally considered very difficult and not pleasing and using it, just like you talk about the jealousy. You have great program… yeah, okay, there’s another light going on. I never realized I expect my friends to clean up if I cook for their dinner or at least offer to help. Or I really expected my boyfriend was going to call me and check on me after my big trip or whatever it was. It starts taking a feeling of disappointment from dis-empowered and stuck and there’s something wrong with me to a place where I can kind of explore and it may be that that friend is just not a good fit. They’re never going to meet that so I should not make dinner for them.

Reid: Or don’t give them dishes.

Cathy: Right.

Reid: Wisdom, because then there’s nothing for them to have to do. No? When you figure out what the expectation is, what are other things you can do?

Cathy: If you realize you have an expectation? Well, sometimes those expectations aren’t being met by that person or by anybody and I’d like to do a different video on that.

Reid: Okay.

Cathy: But when there are expectations, you may be able to negotiate, the other person may be, “Oh my God, I never even realized. I was just so full from that delicious dinner, I just sat on the coach.” Glad to do the dishes next time or how I can make it up to you, whatever the five languages of apology are that you need. It might be fine or they might say, “I’d love to cook for you next time and I’d love you to do the dishes.” Whatever it is. You might get that, they might be sure agreement, there might be negotiation and there might be, there’s no way for me to do that.

Reid: Sounds great. Let’s get to the second video. I’m intrigued.

Cathy: Excellent.

Reid: Are you intrigued? What was useful about this video? Leave it below.

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