I wanted to write about expectation and reality and how we can deal with that. A strong theme that I come across is how our greatest pain can come from our greatest expectation. Where we feel that disparity between what we had hoped to happen and the reality of what has happened. Created between these two points there’s a lot of stress, a lot of tension and a lot of anxiety.
If this is unfamiliar to you, I’m simply inviting you to notice when you’re feeling unhappy about something and asking yourself these questions: what have I expected to have happen? And what actually is happening? I’d like you to be aware of it and be curious as to how you’re feeling. See that these two things are creating the most amount of pain for you. Notice. Become aware, become curious. Sometimes awareness can be the first step which automatically rolls out change.
The most useful way to handle expectations is to ask: “What was my ultimate goal? What did I want to achieve overall?” Sometimes expectations are fixed by concentrating on what is the bigger goal. Therefore take a moment to look at the expectation and understand what you’re looking to achieve overall. What was the higher goal? You may discover that the expectation may not always fully reflect the overall goal.
See also: Managing Overwhelm
We need to ask, “What was my goal above all this? What is my overall intention?” And, I offer, that won’t have changed. Your expectation of how it was going to come about has changed because you didn’t get the result you expecting. But the reality is that you still have that goal in place, you just need to find a different way of getting to it. I want you to really understand this point. Once we get to the intention, the goal, we understand what was going on for us. This helps us say, “Okay, actually what I’m ultimately aiming for is this goal. That last way didn’t meet my goals my outcomes. I now need to adjust and then focus back. But my goal my overall goal remains the same”. You probably have heard this before in a variety of conversations where expectations haven’t been met. At this point you can apply the above awareness and begin to extract from the expectation what is ultimately trying to be achieved.
Say a group of you are going on a camping trip and one friend has let you down by not bringing something. You’re mad and upset. But ask yourself what’s your goal above the expectation? Perhaps it’s to have a great holiday camping with friends. Has this friend’s actions greatly affected that? Maybe it can be easily sorted. It doesn’t affect the larger goal. By moving past expectation and getting clear about the outcome really helps to create a different solution.
Check out: The Secret of Success is Failing, Often
The final thing to consider is our own language. Notice when we’re using language which creates expectations. The simplest example is: should. That person should have remembered those things for the camping trip. That person should be in love with me. And a way to challenge your ‘shoulds’ is by just changing that verb and putting something else in place i.e.: must, can or will. These words more empowering, assertive and not filled with judgement. Try replacing ‘should’ with ‘I must’, ‘I will’ or ‘I can’. Any of these are better or more useful for you.
I hope you get some value from this article, there’s a lot packed inside. What I want you to get from this is just notice when frustration occurs and ask yourself, “What is my intention behind the expectation?” and course-correct back to your overall goal.
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Ben Jackson is a registered counsellor, coach, and lecturer with nearly 10 years of professional experience. He helps clients with stress and anxiety, anger management, self esteem, confidence, and depression.
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