Most of the unhappiness in our lives stems from expectations. They are either too high or too low and our feelings are hurt because these expectations are not met.
Living life without expectations can be hard, however it reaps the benefits of never being left feeling somehow lacking or disappointed. Managing your life expectations can have positive ramifications for everyone. You will feel liberated from the feeling of lack and others will no longer feel under pressure from you to exceed an expectation.
Managing your life expectations hold 4 key elements:
maturity, consistency, strength and decisiveness. It’s through implementing these elements that we can learn to free ourselves of the confines of expectation.
Setting expectations is human nature, and to some extent in our life we have to set basic ones, for example. The expectations of living without fear of abuse. The expectation of being safe within your own home. The expectation of being paid on time by your employer. The expectations of having fresh water when you turn on the tap. These basic societal expectations we take for granted, however these are privileges that not everyone in the world can rely on.
Its always good to have a rounded view of how privileged we actually are to have our basic human expectations met. Not everyone is and this level of gratefulness can help to balance us when looking at managing our life expectations.
What Are Life Expectations?
Have you ever met someone after talking to them on the phone and they are not what you thought? That is an expectation. Have you ever gone on holiday and been let down by the hotel you stayed in? Again this is an expectation. Have you ever had an argument with your spouse and felt hurt or rejection? It’s because you hold an expectation. We hold expectations on everything from water coming out of a tap to how a rainbow should look.
Then what happens when these expectations are not met? Unhappiness, disillusion, pain and a multitude of other negative emotions. Whilst its good to have boundaries and basic expectations, there are situations, for example in relationships that we should try to hold no expectations. Holding expectations can generally lead to miscommunication and the feeling of being let down. Expectations can be linked to a negative mindset rather than a positive one. If you hold no expectations for anything then everything you receive will make you grateful and happy.
I know most of us would rather never feel let down again and this is why managing your life expectations can have a profound positive benefit to your life, leaving you feeling at peace more often than not.
When first approaching setting or managing your expectations a good place to start is from a mature aspect. We are responsible for our own thoughts and feelings, no one else. In our often easily offended culture we are quick to blame the other person for offending us. We all like to play the victim. However this is a hugely emotionally immature way to behave. No one can actually offend us or hurt us emotionally unless we place an expectation on the outcome, or if we feel we have the right to have something a certain way.
Having maturity mean we realise that we have soul responsibility to make sure that any given situation doesn’t leave us offended, hurt or lacking. If it does we have to look to ourselves for the reason why. It could be a past hurt or an unmet expectation. In both cases this is not the responsibility of the other party. To realise this is to have a huge amount of emotional maturity.
Being consistent in your expectations, especially when it comes to relationships will always make life easier for all involved. If we know where we stand and this doesn’t change like the weather, then a sturdy level of trust will be built. When we consistently do anything it brings a pleasant equilibrium to life, but also a happiness as everything will exceed our expectations, especially if we try to hold none.
It takes a relative amount of strength and discipline to hold little or no expectation on any given person or situation. Its a behaviour that will garner a lot of respect as deep down everyone realises that expectation = being let down and disharmony in life. Taking accountability for ourselves is a difficult business and shows great strength of character. Entering every life situation with the strength to no longer expect a particular outcome takes time and practise. You will likely often still feel let down, but this is a sure sign that you are still holding onto expectations. Then you reassess and try again.
The point where you decide to no longer hold expectations or set parameters on what expectations you do hold is going to be an empowering moment. Knowing there is going to be times where you fall short and have to look at why you are feeling a certain way, only to realise you have unconsciously set an expectations is all part of the journey. It does however make it easier to identify why you are feeling something negative. Once identified you can then resolve those feelings easier. For example:
You felt no one bothered about your birthday this year. You feel let down and like you are not worth any effort, it makes you feel sad. You had set an expectation that on your birthday people should do x,y,or z. Had you not had set this, you would have probably enjoyed your day with no ill feelings. If however you are practising the art of holding no expectations and you feel this, then you can look at the situation in a more pragmatic mindset. Yes, no one did anything for my birthday however, it wasn’t their fault. It is my responsibility not to take offence by this as it’s my expectations and not their actions that are the issue.
This whole internal dialogue of fault and responsibly will help you to rationalise your feelings and ultimately lead you to a profound place of inner peace.
Fault Vs Responsibility
Fault and responsibility are often mistaken to be inter changeable and mean the same thing. This is untrue. Fault is where blame can lay but responsibility is an action we have to take accountability for. It may be my fault i threw a punch, but its your responsibility to dodge it. This video below explains it very succinctly.
Do you live life with no expectations or is this something you would like to try? Let us know in the comments below.