Understanding Expectations

It's important to learn from the mistakes you make in life. Here we will draw wisdom from positive and negative experiences of expectations. By gaining a basic understanding of the workings of expectations, and with the support of some awareness, it's quite easy to foresee the outcome of your expectations and to avoid potential disappointment.

We will also elaborate on the fruits of expectations. Due to our emotionally reactive nature, this can get rather ugly.

Let's start out with the very basics. What is an expectation? An expectation can be a prediction such as, "It will probably rain tomorrow." This may not be of any importance to you. In other words, regardless whether it rains or not, you won't react with strong positive or negative emotions.

Other expectations are fueled by desire or craving. Another way of phrasing it, is that you want something. It could be success, happiness, freedom, attention or sex. If your expectations are not met, you are likely to react with negative feelings and thoughts, since you didn't get what you had hoped for. This article focuses on desire-based expectations.

You can have expectations on yourself and the people around you; likewise, others can have expectations on themselves or whoever is round them. Generally speaking, high expectations often lead to disappointment, while low expectations are unlikely to cause you any unhappiness. It's skillful to have realistic expectations on life, that way you are not setting yourself up to be disappointed.

How do you react to failure and disappointment?

Other than high and low expectations, there are selfish and selfless expectations.

Selfish Expectations

Let's say you own a restaurant and expect all your family members, friends and neighbors to support your business. Even worse, you repeatedly blame them for not patronizing the restaurant often enough and ask when they will come back. This kind of pressure is really unpleasant and takes away the joy of dining.

You also expect your regulars to call in frequently.

Another example of a selfish expectation is an acquaintance, someone you don't want in your life, that tries very hard to become your friend. The person may phone or visit your place to literally force herself upon you. Unwanted friendship is doomed to fail and feeds unhappiness and tension.

It's as unrealistic as it is selfish, to force oneself upon a person who doesn't show mutual interest in developing a friendship.

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Selfless Expectations

Imagine you have just qualified as a yoga teacher and want to share what you have learned with anyone who is interested. You have a full-time job and yoga is your favorite pastime. Once a week, you offer free classes in your living room and hope as many people as possible will turn up.

Your intentions are selfless. You have experienced the benefits of yoga and wish to introduce others to the practice. This, gives rise to a warm and relaxed atmosphere. What is more, you don't expect anything from the participants.

The Fruits Of Expectations

Selfish expectations generate unhappiness and spread like ripples on water. Put yourself in the shoes of the restaurant owner that expresses his disappointment every time he sees family and friends, because they haven't patronized his restaurant often enough. His unrealistic expectations make him unhappy while the customers lose their appetite.

When it comes to individuals that force friendship upon others, that is bound to lead to disappointment and anger. It's quite unpleasant to be confronted with someone who feels rejected. His face is likely to show anger or even hatred. What have you done to deserve that?

It's vital to respect everyone's freedom of choice.

Like in the example of the yoga teacher, selfless expectations generate a pleasant atmosphere. It's natural to feel at ease when no one expects anything from you.

Be aware of your desires and expectations, be realistic and selfless.

Best of luck!

Related:   Emotional Reactivity   Irritation And Anger   Your Intentions

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