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  • Writer's pictureMegan Filoramo

An iced Latte with almond milk and 2 pumps of arsenic

Where are my coffee drinkers? What’s your order?

Coffee drinkers “know their order”. We don’t generally change up how we take our coffee. Sure there may be a hot version and a cold version but typically we stick to something and have it every day. We wouldn’t just start adding something new into our established coffee routine and we certainly wouldn’t ruin our precious coffee with arsenic. (If you’re not a coffee drinker, insert your beverage of choice or just imagine you are for the sake of the analogy.)

Work is like coffee. We know what it should taste like, we chose it because at the time we wanted it. We have expectations of what it should do for us. But sometimes it feels like work has been poisoned.

And when work is poisoned, we can feel like we are dying a slow death (or at least dealing with chronic unpleasant symptoms if ‘dying a slow death’ seems too dramatic).

But what is poisoning work and how do we get it back to what we ordered? How do we get it back to something that helps us in our lives and gives us satisfaction.

Are you ready?

One of the sneakiest poisons is our own expectations.

Don’t believe me?

When I ask people what is problematic about their jobs, the probability of hearing about someone else’s behavior is pretty high. What would you tell me about your job?

Maybe one of these.

how management responds (or doesn’t) to staff needs

how team members don’t help out or are always complaining

how patients expect unreasonable things

how patient families approach you

how your colleagues work or don’t work

who is on their phone all the time

We expect that all these people should be acting differently.

Listen, I am not here to tell you that these things aren’t annoying.

How many problems could be avoided if people would just act as they should?

I work with some pretty great people and I still find myself thinking this at times.

How amazing would it be if none of those things bothered you at all?

Picture that for a minute.

How much space would it open up in your brain if you didn’t have to worry about ANY of those things? Could you breathe easier? Ruminate less? Have less tenseness in your neck, less headaches? Could you go home and not feel beat up?


Here’s the thing, it’s not ACTUALLY their behavior that is making us miserable (which is good news because so far I haven’t figured out how to make people act other than they are). We just need to let go of our expectation of others to be something other than they are.

After all, we don’t like it when people expect us to be different, now do we?

I know it sounds impossible. But the potential return on investment is huge, are you willing to at least try it?

How do you even start?

How do you accept reality for what it is and accept the people around you for who they are and what their experience of life is right now?

You bring the focus back to yourself, which is the only part of this you can actually control.

And every time you feel the aggravation and overwhelm setting in, you remind yourself to keep doing it, to practice it over and over.

Let me tell you what that looked like for me, what I had to tell myself, over and over and over.

  • I work hard because I’m a hard worker, not because someone else is or isn’t pulling their weight.

  • I can find creative ways to meet my own needs at work. Sure, I can work toward solutions of systemic problems but I can also be ok with things the way they are. I can do what I am here to do no matter what.

  • The way other people behave actually has nothing to do with me. Pretending it does distracts me from doing the things at work that I find fulfilling (like caring for patients or learning new things).

  • My patients are in pain, I can be patient with them AND set boundaries if need be from a place of compassion instead of judgment.

  • I understand why my colleagues would complain, this work is hard. I have options when they are complaining. I can listen, offer an alternative perspective (subtly so they don’t feel invalidated), or leave the conversation.

What I know for sure is that thinking that it is and expecting them to be different is like giving yourself a daily dose of arsenic in your iced latte with almond milk. It will wreck everything.

Work CAN be a delicious cup of coffee. The foundation of why you chose it is still there. Let’s add something delicious, like believing you can manage your own happiness there, instead of the arsenic of unrealistic expectations of other people.

It’s worth a try, what do you have to gain?


P.S.- An iced latte with almond milk isn’t actually my coffee order, it’s my daughter’s.

P.P.S. - Sometimes unpacking your expectations at work can be a tall order. You don’t have to do it alone. Book a consult call here to find out how I can help you get back to loving your job in just 6 weeks. It’s the ultimate in self-care.

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