Expectations shape our reality. Our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are all affected by our expectations. This makes them extremely powerful and impactful. However expectations are a complex phenomenon. There are typically two different views about expectations that you’ll hear:
“Expectation is the mother of all frustration.” — Antonio Banderas
“High expectations are the key to everything”. — Sam Walton
If you didn’t expect to get in trouble for not showing up to work on time, would you? If the people in your life didn’t expect a certain standard of treatment, would you treat them differently? Have you ever been given a “what to expect” guide on the first day of a new job or educational course? Expectations help us operate efficiently. We can make general assumptions when it comes to behavior, performance, and the situations we will be in.
Expectations can help us to set goals for higher achievement, to work hard, do our best, and motivate others to do the same.
Expectations prevent us from settling for less. Certain standards of behavior are mandatory and fair to be expected (like being respected and feeling safe in your relationships).
People often will tell you “If you don’t have expectations then you can’t be let down.” And yes, there is some merit to that. Unfulfilled expectations can be a major source of disturbance. When you hold expectations, you have a belief about how something is or how it will be. If it fails to live up to your expectations it’s going to hurt. You will feel disappointed, frustrated, and angry.
We may not fully appreciate what we have when we are expecting more or comparing what we have to what we could have.
It is important to distinguish between realistic and unrealistic expectations. It has been said that unrealistic expectations are premeditated resentments.
What do unrealistic expectations look like? Expecting others to do what is in our best interest but not theirs, expecting our partners to live up to what we see in romance movies, our jobs to be idealized versions we had as children, or even our lives to match up to what we see on social media.
Unrealistic Expectations That Will Ruin You -from Forbes Magazine
Life should be fair.
Opportunities will fall into my lap.
Everyone should like me.
People should agree with me.
People know what I’m trying to say.
I’m going to fail.
Things will make me happy.
I can change him/her.
The good/bad continuum of expectations pose a paradox, but one that is solvable. If we expect something to happen then we have to have a good reason for that expectation. Having expectations of things we can control is beneficial. We should be careful about our expectations of things beyond our control.
Some people suffer from a lack of healthy expectations and thus limit their potential and others set unattainably high expectations for themselves and thus assure their frustration and unhappiness. Often, expectations get in the way of our being present as our mind distorts our current experience through the filter of our needs.
In this case, we are confronted with the expectation paradox. Are expectations truly good or bad? The zen answer to this question is simply, yes. The seeming paradox around this term can lead to much confusion. A good starting point is to ask if your expectations, or lack thereof, enhance your life experience. Do they assist you in the unfolding of your life or do they justify your unhappiness?
The paradox of expectation shouldn’t be resolved by simply saying that they are good or bad. They are neither and they are both. They are what we make them and what we make of them. The responsibility lies within us. As the architects of our lives, we need to be the masters of our expectations, rather than be ruled by them. If after a thorough examination, we conclude that our expectations are authentic and self-generated and yet we still struggle in their attainment, we have an opportunity to look at why that is so. On the other hand, if these wishes are not of our own making but merely imposed upon us, we can unshackle ourselves from this burden.
Expectations frequently guide behavior and make it easier to predict what will happen next. People can develop expectations about a wide range of things. Examples of expectations include the most basic belief that the sun will rise tomorrow or the assumption that your boss will give you a raise in six months.
Expectations are determined by a combination of experience, cognitive processes, communication with others, and cultural norms. For example, if your boss gives you a raise every six months and indicates that he or she is pleased with your performance, you are much more likely to believe you will get a raise than if you have never gotten a raise or have been recently disciplined at work.
Expectations serve as hypotheses about the future and can be false. Life history, mental illness, and other issues can increase the likelihood that a person develops false expectations. False expectations can have a negative impact on a person’s well-being. For example, a person with anxiety might develop catastrophic and fear-based expectations that are not based in reality but that compel them to take drastic measures, such as refusing to leave their home or avoiding contact with other people.
A term related to expectation in the health and wellness context is expectancy. Expectancy plays a tremendous role in your day-to-day health, but it is especially powerful when you are sick and/or in a diseased state. It has been scientifically proven that focusing your attention on illness will make you sick. A 1966 study in the Journal of Medical Education titled Medical Students’ Disease: Hypochondriasis in Medical Education found that 79 percent of students reported developing symptoms.
This phenomenon has been referred to as the nocebo effect. Where the placebo effect reinforces the power of nurturing, hope, positive thinking, and expectation, the nocebo effect points to the power of negative thinking and how it can cause one to experience physical symptoms. In either case, we see the power of expectation, state of mind, and the foundation for the mind-body connection.
Expectations provide people with important guidance about how to behave. After all, if you believe the sun will not come up tomorrow, you have little reason to get your work done or to go to bed on time. Thus an ongoing problem of false expectations can alter behavior and interfere with social life. While false expectations are not in themselves a mental health problem, the inability to accurately form hypotheses about the future can be caused by a variety of issues, ranging from depression to schizophrenia.
Expectations can also influence future outcomes. For example, a person who believes his or her next relationship will be abusive might be less likely to actively seek out a healthy relationship. A person who has a false belief that he or she will get a promotion at work might not work as hard or accurately assess his or her job performance.
Tips for Navigating Expectations:
-When you go into a situation, ask yourself what you expect to happen. Ask yourself if your expectations should be this way. Where did these expectations come from and are they realistic?
-Be adaptive. Dalai Lama said, “Attachment is the origin, the root of suffering; hence it is the cause of suffering.” Practice emotional detachment from your expectations.
-Remember perfection doesn’t exist.
-Develop the habit of not taking things personally and realize that each of us behaves in accordance with our unique set of standards and beliefs. When you understand this, you can move toward acceptance of both others and your own imperfect nature.
-Life is going to surprise us with curveballs. The past is the best predictor of the future but this doesn’t mean history will always repeat itself.
-If you want things to be different, focus on things you can change, things that you are in control of.
-Be gentler when expectations aren’t met – learn from the failures, make a plan for getting what you want next time.
-Never assume – communicate! It is hard for someone to live up to your expectations when they don’t know what they are. Unspoken expectations are almost guaranteed to go unfulfilled. Talking openly about what you expect from other people might improve your chances of fulfillment. At the same time, it is unrealistic to think that merely communicating your expectations clearly is going to get people to behave the way you want them to.
-Find something to be grateful about, even when things do not turn out the way you hoped and you will experience serenity rather than resentment.
-Choose to expect the best outcome & you’re much more likely to get it. Expecting the best puts you into a powerful frame of mind and when backed with preparation and action – orients you toward success.
So, as you can see, expectations and how we handle them play an important role in our lives. Some might even say they can make you or break you, they are that important. But there is another school of thought oriented around the notion of expectation and that is the Law of Attraction.
Simply put, the Law of Attraction is the ability to attract into our lives whatever we are focusing on.
It is believed that regardless of age, nationality, or religious belief, we are all susceptible to the laws which govern the Universe, including the Law of Attraction. It is the Law of Attraction that uses the power of the mind to translate whatever is in our thoughts and materialize them into reality.
In basic terms, according to proponents of LOA, all thoughts turn into things eventually.
If you focus on negative doom and gloom you will remain under that cloud. If you focus on positive thoughts and have goals that you aim to achieve you will find a way to achieve them with massive action.
The Law of Attraction is one of life’s biggest mysteries. Very few people are fully aware of how much of an impact the Law of Attraction has on their day-to-day life.
Whether we are doing it knowingly or unknowingly, every second of our existence, we are acting as human magnets sending out our thoughts and emotions and attracting back more of what we have put out.
Unfortunately, so many of us are still blind to the potential that is locked deep within us. Consequently, it is all too easy to leave your thoughts and emotions unchecked. This sends out the wrong thoughts and attracts more unwanted emotions and events into your life.
With that said, discovering that the Law of Attraction is at work within your life should be a great cause for celebration! When you have learned how to effectively apply the LOA to your everyday life, your entire future is yours to create.
The work of quantum physicists during recent years has helped to shine greater light on the incredible impact that the power of the mind has on our lives and the universe in general. The more that this idea is explored by scientists, the greater an understanding we have of just how significant a role the mind plays in shaping our lives and the world around us.
As physicists come to supply us with more and more information regarding the law, the more we realize that we are the creators and controllers of our life and the energy we are all made of.
The exercise of understanding the expectations paradox is helpful as a foundation for understanding the true power of the Law of Attraction.
Be happy, for the universe is always on our side! Shifting from the third dimensional analysis of the virtue of expectations to learning how to use the Law of Attraction effectively will lead to a true appreciation of how fulfilling and rewarding your life can be. There are no restrictions! Open your mind and enjoy the natural abundance of the Universe.