How many times have you been disappointed or even angry or hurt because whatever you were doing did not come out the way you expected it to? It could be as banal as your new haircut or as important as your primary relationship. It could be the fault of having expectations about what you are attempting that are built on faulty assumptions or that other things, unpredictable things, happen instead of what you wanted to happen. In any case, it seems that over-investing in certain outcomes may have a negative impact on your well-being.
What is an expectation? It is an assumption or presumption that something will or should be or happen in the future. If you take the hype around New Year’s Eve as an example, you might presume that it is (or should be) a night of glamour and parties. If you are not experiencing it that way, your expectations would not be met and you might be disappointed. If your life is not living up to your expectations on a regular basis, it is possible that you’re experiencing this sort of disappointment frequently. Your expectations may be based on comparisons with an idealised version of reality, as in the version that popular culture and marketing has devised for New Year’s Eve. I wrote about this kind of comparison in a previous blog (Love What You Have).
When thinking about this topic, I found myself wondering if all expectations are bad or if expectations are always bad. Don’t our expectations (or our parents’) to do well in school help us do well? Maybe. But what happens when we don’t do well or we don’t do as expected? This can give rise to shame (even when we have done our best), embarrassment, a loss of confidence, feelings of disappointing ourselves and others (ex. our parents) and other negative feelings. Is there any other way to raise your game without the possibility of a major crash if it doesn’t go your way?
Consider hope. Hope is defined as a wish that something that is wanted can be had or a wish for a particular event that one considers possible to happen. The difference seems to turn on the level of confidence; hope contains an optimistic feeling without a sense of assurance, while expectation confers a sense of confident belief. Thus, it might be that the leaking out of a little of the swagger and assurance of Expectation’s balloon so it more resembles Hope, makes the experience of being disappointed when the desired event doesn’t occur less devastating.
So, the next time you are expecting something to happen in some particular way, consider what would happen if you deflate it down to hoping? Let me know what happens for you!