Expectations: Lessons to be Learned

July 1st, 2009

The word “Expectation” sounds like a fairly benign word, and at times it has the potential for creating great joy. But at other times it can be a source of great difficulty and disillusionment and can become a force that can rule us in a most destructive fashion.

Some of the areas of expectation that I believe are most significant are the following:

1. Expectations that we have of others.

2. Expectations that we have of ourselves.

3. Expectations that others have of us.

Perhaps the most painful area is that where we place expectations on others. This can set us up for major disappointments . An example would be when our children, or other loved ones forget a special occasion (birthdays, mother’s day, etc.). Or in the workplace, when we work so terribly hard, and no anticipated recognition is ever forthcoming. And many other events or occasions too numerous to mention.

The second mentioned area can be the unreasonable expectations that we place on ourselves. This could have had its origins in unconscious input from our childhood, our culture, or any of a multitude of other aspects of our lives, of which we are unaware. An example would be the need to always be perfect. The difficulty of this type, is that the sources may be unconscious and very difficult to access. This can involve real soul searching, or perhaps even therapy.

The third area, and perhaps the most subtle and potentially damaging to the psyche is when we work to fulfill the expectations of others and when doing so we are not being honest with what we truly want to do or be. The hazard is that the more that we “give ourselves away” to please others, the more difficult it may be to retrieve “who we really are”.

Whether you are expecting things of others, or they are expecting things of you, it can and should be an optional process. The word “caution” should at least unconsciously be linked to the process of expectation. Other terms or ways of thinking that we might use in place of expectation could be “hope”, or “desired outcome”. Expectation, on the other hand, is an all or nothing concept, and leaves no room for alternatives.

For those who the have the ability, just “letting go” of expectations in any form is the method of choice. This means really knowing who you are, and that “who you are” is truly OK. This means that you are not driven by yourself or others. Another way to look at it is that others who might who might have expections of you, have the problem, not you. Literally, you are in charge of you.

Another aspect of the expectation process, is to stop and talk to yourself. Ask yourself, if such-and-such, does or does not happen, have I set myself up for pain or disapproval? If the answer is yes, can I handle the outcome? Depending on the answer, it may be important to go through a “change of thought” process, whereby other outcomes become acceptable

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