Did you know, expectations when becomes false hypotheses and you start obsessing about them, can cause a variety of mental heath issues like depression or schizophrenia?

But that’s not what we are discussing about today. Although, our topic for today is E for Expectation, we are not diving deep into abyss of psychology.

Rather, we are only trying to curb on building false expectations. Instead, we will make an effort to manage expectations and also learn to hope.

What is expectation?

Expectation is, for me, a virtual belief that lies in the future- a dictatorship on something or somebody to act as per their will.

Expectation is nothing but a disappointment in disguise and it is the mother of all sorrows


According to the source,

In the case of uncertainty, expectation is what is considered the most likely to happen. An expectation, which is a belief that is centered on the future, may or may not be realistic. A less advantageous result gives rise to the emotion of disappointment.

Although, expectation has been described as ‘…may or may not be realistic’, it’s funny how there are tests that conclude- ‘…higher the expectations of a leader, higher the performance in the followers’.

The Pygmalion effect, or Rosenthal effect,  is the phenomenon whereby higher expectations lead to an increase in performance.

However, this test has been condemned time and again. Furthermore, contradictory results have been drawn using the same test principles which suggest, Pygmalion effect, after all is no more than a mirage!

On the contrary, hope is the better way to look at the future as against expecting something. Here are few reasons to do so.

Difference between expectation and hope

In his book The Awakened Heart, Dr. Gerald May clearly differentiates between expectation and hope.

According to him, expectation is- “rigid clinging to unreal belief.”

Expectation is built upon assumptions- enforces the same on other people as well as situations- leads to disappointments, pain and self-criticism- instigates us to react instead of responding.

On the other hand hope is- wishing for something to come true along with the acceptance that it might actually not.

Hope is based on facts and reality- offers room for others to thrive and express- easy to accept the results if they don’t come true- gives a sense of responsibility for what has been wished and hence offers the strength to respond rather than react.

Expectation quote bruce lee

Adversities of expectations

  1. Expectations can shift your belief system because it emphasis on- should and must. Do you see the rigidity?
  2. It is conditional and hence you feel if something or somebody fails to meet your expectation then it will result in negativity. Consequently, you will have feelings like hatred, anger and frustration.   Example- If he loves me, then he will treat me.
  3. When the circumstances changes, instead of changing your views and re-considering your beliefs, you try to change the other person involved or manipulate the situation itself.
  4. Expectations mostly do not accept the fact that future could bring in something new other than what has happened in the past. You start imagining similar outcomes from certain situations and assume the same about a person who could have changed now. You just can’t see beyond past. You become judgmental.
  5. It limits your perception. Hinder’s your ability to grow and pursue things you really want to. Your expectations can in turn become cause for your failures as it leads to conflicts, irrational behavior and inability to come up with solutions to problems.

How to manage expectations?

Expectation is a broad topic for discussion. It could mean setting up expectations for yourself as well as others. For instance, when we talk about employee and employer scenario, employer sets expectations for his employee.

Therefore, it would also make sense for me to write about setting up expectations for others, in addition to, managing your own expectations.

However, the scope here is limited to growing from inside out and hence my points of focus will remain on managing your self-expectations that directly affect yourself.

  1. Elimination is the key- Root out all the unrealistic expectations so that you are only left with more realistic ones to deal with. Expectations such as- I can never make mistakes, people should always listen to me or I must be the eye candy for everybody, are far from reality.
  2. Stop expecting too much from yourself- You are allowed to make mistakes, you can’t always be a perfectionist. You can have expectations which are governed by your own interests and not what others expect out of you. It’s important to set your goals in self-interest. You can’t keep pleasing everybody every time and hence don’t expect to be liked by everyone. Don’t be dependent on achievements to feel worthy.
  3. Learn to give space- The more you try to control things and people, the more they will slip out of your fist. Most of the things are bound to happen at nature’s will- some just happen in your favor and others work against your desires. Just like you want to stick to your will, your loved ones like to live there inner values. Give them the space they need.
  4. Be prepared to face consequences- Understand and accept, no matter what you are aiming at, failure is always a possibility and you can’t escape it. Learn to face it. Analyse it and learn from it- move on.
  5. Let go, learn to delegate- You’re not a superhuman. You do have limitations when it comes to skills. Let go off things which are not in your control. Learn to delegate and get work done where required so that you don’t get burned out with stress or fatigue.
  6. Let people know what to expect from you- Talk to people at your work and at home on what to expect from you. Set the right expectations about your capabilities, inabilities, availability, likes, dislikes, etc. Don’t get worked out because people want you to do something. If you do, then it means you’re expecting more from yourself, when in reality, it’s way too difficult to fulfill.
  7. Respect the need to change- It’s ok not to meet your own expectations. Reset your goals if need be. Stay away from guilt rides. Don’t be harsh on yourself for changing your mind. Accept the fact that we all take decisions in haste at times or even if we don’t, we feel the need to make changes in our own vision.

Expectations based on assumptions leads to failures. This in turn will effect your self-confidence and self-esteem. You start questioning your worth and turn into a self-critic.

Hence, it makes sense to learn to spot realistic expectations. Hope the best from people and don’t let failures effect your future decisions. Things can still work in your favor regardless of what has happened in the past. If you learn to manage expectations and at the same time, don’t lose hope on things even if they’re out of your control, you will be a winner.

How good are you in managing your expectations? Do you have anything to add up to the tips given above. We are all ears- please let us know about your findings.

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