What’s Wrong With Having Expectations? (Part 2)

If you ever wondered why your life or parts of your life look and feel the way they do (not good) then it might be worth your while to look at your expectations. Generally speaking, our expectations are based on our beliefs and the main problem with this is that, using the iceberg analogy, 90{509b47edb39580d18b421650a9afc13f20dee849390ba171835b35368c323263} of our beliefs and expectations tend to be hidden from our awareness while we tend to regard the remaining 10{509b47edb39580d18b421650a9afc13f20dee849390ba171835b35368c323263}, the ones we are aware of, as valid and realistic.

What’s wrong with having expectations? The problem with expectations in general and the ones outside the field of our awareness in particular is that they are in the driving seat when it comes to creating our life experience, not us.

There is no doubt that you, like me, have expectations about how you should be, how other people should be and even how life itself should be. And then there are the expectations that other people have about how you should be, what you may or may not be capable of achieving, what you should feel, say and do as well as the general expectations society has about age, gender, religion, nationality, race and so on. Expectations lead to labels and labels lead to creating limitations.

Even those expectations which we regard as appropriate, especially those we put on others, are rarely met either by other people or life in general and that can lead to us feeling resentful and disappointed with low self esteem.

I often used to wonder why my expectations were so rarely met. I really didn’t ask for much so why did I so rarely get the little I wanted? ‘My expectations are reasonable and, anyway’, I would say to myself, ‘I am a good person, a really nice one and I do try so hard!’

Fortunately, along the way to getting to where I am now I discovered what’s wrong with having expectations and it boiled down to two very important principles:

  • Life is not about other people – it’s about me because the only common denominator in my life and in all my relationships – is me.
  • The truth is the truth no matter how much I expect it to be different.

These two principles mean that there is no point in my getting upset when my expectations are not met, particularly my expectations of other people, because the bottom line is that blaming others (or even myself) for not measuring up changes nothing and only causes me to feel disappointed and resentful.

When I started to unravel this idea even more, I came to understand that first of all I needed to look at my expectations of myself. I started asking myself: are they realistic? Do they weigh me down or do they actually enhance my life?

Examining and updating my expectations of myself brought huge rewards. The strength I gained from that process enabled me to go on to examine the validity of the expectations I held about other people and the impact of the changes I introduced to this one area alone affected the way I live and experience every area of my life both in terms how I relate to myself and how I experience my relationships.

As you begin to examine your expectations you may start to experience a variety of things, perhaps even unexpected and painful feelings. That is good news. Please stay with the process. As you start exploring these questions, more questions will come up. You might find it useful to keep a journal of everything you notice: your questions, your insights, your thoughts, your feelings, your physical sensations (tight jaw, painful shoulder and neck, headaches, occasional sick feelings). All these sensations can be traced back to your feelings. Notice them! And above all, be gentle and patient with yourself.

Does this chime with you? If so, please share.

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