We often attach so many expectations and hopes to recommendations we give others that we deny them the opportunity to simply experience the moment.
I recently returned from a vacation with my brother in Mexico. He was able to live in San Carlos for eight months last year, as his company has an office down there. I tagged along for a business trip of his, and we had a great time relaxing.
While we were there, I noticed an interesting phenomenon in myself. There were a few evenings when we watched a movie together, and they were typically ones that I recommended that he had not yet seen. I found that I had an increased level of anxiety as we watched those movies, and I was worried about whether he would like my recommendations. I wanted them to be just as great for him as they were for me.
Because he had lived there for a while, many of the food options we chose were recommendations from him. He wanted me to try some of his favorite spots. I projected the same kind of anxiety on him for these recommendations. I felt pressure to like the food so that he would not feel bad. I’m sure that he did feel some anxiety, but not to the level that I created in myself.
I realized how common this is. Almost anytime we give someone a recommendation, we get emotionally invested in it. We want so badly for the other person to have the same wonderful experience that we did. Ironically, this heightened desire often makes that enjoyment impossible.
The problem is that introducing additional expectations can be toxic. We take a situation which may be just fine, but by building it up to be amazing it becomes a disappointment. Even in instances when it is not a letdown, the additional stress we have introduced invariably detracts from the enjoyment everyone involved could have had.
We have to remember that there is no success or failure attached to recommendations. When we give a recommendation, we are offering a possibility, not a guarantee. In the best situations, we merely provide the idea for someone to do something. They may choose to do it or not. They may enjoy it or not. They may recommend it further or not.
If we can separate the expectations from the situation and approach the situation with curiosity, we provide a safe place for true enjoyment. The key is for us to allow each other, and even ourselves, to merely experience the moment with no judgment attached.