Expectations are a strong belief that something will be the case, happen or that we are looking forward to something.
And if we think about it , we all have them in almost everything; the small and the big things in life; in others and in ourselves – a holiday, the weather, friends, how a day should be, the job, a dinner, a concert, a movie, kid’s behavior, the partner, marriage, the parents, the siblings, the test, the assignment; or how the (next) move, country, posting will turn out… you get the picture.
The higher we set our expectations the more we are set for disappointment, frustration, hurt or sadness, no?
Don’t get me wrong, it is good to think about things and possible situations and outcomes. But don’t forget that most of the times we do depend on another person, a third-party or a random situation and we can’t influence that part. It is fully out of our hand, and don’t forget that others do have expectations of their own that may not match with ours! It would be too easy to just blame the other party. So, where does it leave us?
To have no expectations is delusional
We will always have them and they are important, too. After all they can drive us and are a part of who we are, how we tick and how we lead our life.
But I do believe that we might want to rethink our expectations, to check, not only if they are reasonable, but as well if we can, if not lower, but at least adjust them to protect ourselves from disappointment.
I, for myself, started to “adjust” some expectations, especially if/when I do depend on others or factors that I really do not have any control over. By adjusting my own expectations, I am not shutting down, much more the opposite. I leave more room to be positively surprised and space to (re)act.
It leaves more space to “juggle” and control my reactions, my emotions and, if the situation allows, I have space to adjust my expectations. I (try to) leave room to look at the other person’s behavior and try to see their side. Their own expectations might leave them hurt, too! Our expectations might not be aligned.
Lowering expectation for self-protection
And, yes, it is sort of self-protection! The dagger won’t go that deep when my “adjusted” expectations are not met . It will still hurt, but a bit less. I can get myself up quicker.
I do admit, all this sounds good on paper but damn it can be hard at times. Especially the reflecting on the other person when we feel hurt. Such a reflection won’t happen in the moment. Only after the initial hurt is digested we might be able to see something else, something that soothes the situations a bit.
Having high expectations is often seen as being an optimist. Would that then mean lowering expectations makes me and you a pessimist? No, I don’t think so at all – it makes us a realist, with a still very open outlook for the positive.
I believe (and experienced myself) that lowering some expectations can make us happier and more at ease. It can reduce the feeling of being hurt, disappointed and stressed. It allows more space to reflect, focus on your own emotions, behavior and triggers.
Do you believe that having lower expectations is a way to go or is that a pessimistic thought? How do you handle or protect yourself against disappointment, whether caused by people or other circumstances?