We all have expectations, regarding ourselves, our life, other people, and regarding certain situations. However is it actually a healthy approach to have? Are our expectations good for us? Are they making us feel good about ourselves, or maybe it is the complete opposite? Let’s look into this topic in more detail and find out!
In the first place, let’s look at the definition of expectation:
Expectation is a strong belief that something
will happen or be the case.
According to research, our perception of the world is influenced by our expectations. Those expectations help us make sense of what we are perceiving in the present, based on similar past experiences. The process of merging prior knowledge with unclear evidence is known as Bayesian integration and is believed to widely impact our perceptions, thoughts, and actions. Bayesian integration is the optimal approach for handling uncertain information. When we are unsure about something, we repeatedly rely on our prior experiences to optimize behavior.
If you can’t quite tell what something is, but from your prior experience you have some expectation of what it ought to be, then you will use that information to guide your judgment.
Expectations and Happiness
We all have a tendency to pin our hopes for happiness on fulfilled expectations. As long as we have good reasons to believe that fulfilling an expectation will make us happy, and when we take the necessary steps in order to fulfill these expectations, there is nothing wrong with it. And what I mean by ‘good reasons’ is that from your past experience you know what things made you happy. For instance, from my experience, I know that spending some time in nature will bring me happiness. Therefore I expect this experience every time when the weather allows it.
However, when we expect something to happen without good reasons for that expectation, that’s where the problems arise. If you will believe that your expectations alone will bring you what you want, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Let me give you an example, I won’t spend time in nature (or outside) if I won’t make myself go there, it won’t happen just by thinking about it. I need to take the necessary actions to make it happen.
Our expectation towards other
Furthermore, when our expectations involve other people, then this is less obvious. At some point, many of us incorrectly believed that expecting other people to behave the way we want, will actually make them behave that way. What a disappointment and surprise we all felt when that happened! An example of it will be when we expect our partner to do something for us, for example a cup of tea. This is all good only if the other person is happy to do it. But the problem occurs when the other person has no interest in living up to that expectation. How do we feel then? We definitely feel shocked, morally indignant, and resentful.
Expectations are premeditated resentments.
Take a minute, and think of examples in your own life where people didn’t live up to your expectations, and the resentment you felt towards those people…
If you will always expecting life to turn the way you want, well that approach definitely leads to your disappointment. Simply because life will not always turn out the way you want it to. Moreover, the disappointment also involves resentment, when those unsatisfied expectations involve the failure of other people to behave the way you expect them to.
On the other hand, talking openly about your expectations towards other people might improve your chances of fulfillment. However, unspoken expectations are almost guaranteed to go unfulfilled.
You can’t expect people to know what you want or need, without clear communication. It is irrational to believe that people should know what you want if you haven’t told them. Have expectations, but only when you know that expectation is going to be satisfied. By doing so, you will save yourself from getting disappointment each time your expatriation isn’t fulfilled. Don’t rely on other people to make you happy, you can make yourself happy! You can enjoy your life more when you drop the expectations which are not healthy for you!