The Power of Changing Expectations

R.J. Formanek wrote this in response to a post on his Flying With Broken Wings Facebook group. It got me thinking about language and how we are told to lower our expectations for our loved ones with FASD.


“I often wonder why we often equate changed expectations with lowered expectations, because it does not always have to mean “lesser”.

Yet for some reason we often go there, and sadly many stay there.

They tell me all the time “what I can’t do” and sometimes they even go to great lengths to explain why I can’t do it. They can be very convincing.

There have been times in my life where I DID believe what they assumed about me… much to my personal detriment.

Now I am not saying people were being unkind, in fact I think in some ways it’s meant to prevent me from coming to harm, or meeting up with potential failure. But it still comes down to destroying dreams.

Maybe not big dreams, or grand dreams… but MY dreams.
And they did not mean to do that, they thought they were being kind.

I wish we could see the full potential of each person as easily as they identify our deficits … but sadly most people can not. Parents, partners and those who live with and around us often DO understand much more, and see what potential is there, and can help bring that out.

Fear of failure is a huge thing.. and often people don’t let us find our potential due to that fear. In my case, I fight for the right to define myself, and as an adult I am able to do that. But getting to this point was a long, difficult journey where I had to learn “me”… not what I’d been told was me… where I am good, where I am not so good.

Do I fail? Constantly.
Do I stop? Never
Do people laugh at me? Sometimes, they do.
Do I care? Only to the point that I feel bad they can not see.

We ALL have struggles in our lives, and it’s only by working together to find those higher peaks, and avoid the valleys when possible that we are able to rise above that which is expected. We can do this.

How we see ourselves is so important, and often what we think is our own “self talk” is that which we have been told. That becomes ‘us’.

So.. if we strive for the best, we may fail…. but then again…


As always, he speaks eloquently from lived experience.

RJ Formanek The Red Shoes Guy

I have been a member of the FWBW Facebook group for a few years, and followed R.J. through that forum and the Red Shoes Rock campaign. I was honoured to meet him in person this past summer.

If you’d like to join his community, visit: Flying With Broken Wings

Thank you R.J. for teaching us to be better supports for those we love and each other.

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