The expectations are one of our biggest problems, though we rarely consider that. They surge when we stop living in the real world and begin to live in the world we have built in our minds, when we fail to face reality as it is and begin to react to the way we would like to be the world. Therefore, expectations may make us tremendously unhappy.
The three monsters that lead us to neurosis
Albert Ellis, founder of the Rational Emotive Therapy, said that there are three monsters that prevent us from moving forward and be happy. These are irrational expectations that lead us to work in “neurotic mode” and are typical of unhappiness.
1. I have to get it right
This expectation is addressed to ourselves, it is an order to our ego and, somehow, have been inculcated into us by society. In fact, since childhood, since we started going to school, we are exposed to the message that we aren’t worth for what we are, but for our successes. Therefore, it is understandable that we have high expectations respect our commitment.
The problem is that these expectations are often unrealistic and unattainable, since that claim perfection. The person who believes he has to always do it well, be successful, be responsible and realize everything that he proposed himself, is simply adding an extra dose of unnecessary stress that will make him feel a sense of failure and frustration at the slightest setback.
In fact, these kinds of expectations do not lead to personal growth, but are the basis for self-disparaging thoughts, meaningless self-sacrifice and self-hatred.
2. You must treat me well
This expectation is reflected on the others, it expresses what we expect from the others. Of course we all want to be treated with respect and fairness, but that doesn’t always happen, and we must be ready to face this reality.
In the world there are many people, all different and they do not always behave in a friendly or civilian way. But if you expect them to do it always, you’ll get mad every time someone does not respect his turn in the queue, park badly or raises his voice.
Liberating yourself from these expectations doesn’t mean to allow others to trample your rights, but it will allow you take a sufficient emotional distance to figure out which battles are worth and which not. When you do not expect anything from anyone nobody will disappoint you and, more importantly, every positive gesture will be an incredible gift.
In the Western world the new generations have grown up in a relatively comfortable and safe environment, were bred under the protective wings of their parents, so it is normal that growing they develop high expectations with respect to the world and think that everything should be very easy.
There are people who believe that it should be rolled out a red carpet just for them everywhere, who claim to not get stuck in traffic jams, not to wait their turn in line or have to deal with all the little inconveniences of the daily life. These are people who have a very low tolerance for frustration, so any mishap that does not fit their idealized image of the world will turn into a problem.
This kind of expectations are not related to faith in human improvement, hope and positivism, but are based on an unrealistic view of the world, so that can only cause trouble to those who feeds them.
Check out your “closet of expectations”
Feeding unrealistic expectations that border the absurd is very easy because, at the end, they make us feel that the world is a safer and more organized place. However, they prevent us from developing our kit of psychological tools for life. In fact, we develop resilience falling, assuming responsibility and returning to get up, this time stronger and wiser.
Therefore, it is recommended that, occasionally, we check out our “closet of expectations” and discard everything we don’t need and occupies the place with no reasons. Ask yourself what expectations you have about yourself, the others and the world. To what extent are they realistic, and if these expectations will help you to be happier and improve your life or, conversely, will make you suffer.
Perhaps, everything can be resumed in one simple sentence: “expect the best, prepare for the worst and be ready to be surprised.”