The leading cause of disappointment and suffering is unrealistic expectations. We impose them on ourselves and others. This one simple rule will dramatically reduce disappointment levels in your life and help you manage expectations of yourself and others.
We have a plethora of common limiting beliefs in our society from believing we’re not good enough to the endless “should” cycle. We do what we think is expected of us (no matter how unrealistic it may be!), accept unachievable expectations from others, and impose unreasonable expectations on ourselves in a twisted attempt to be “good enough.” We do this subconsciously to feel accepted, worthy, appreciated, or to be recognized.
If you want to drastically reduce the level of disappointment and suffering in your life, you need only do one thing, kick those unrealistic expectations to the curb; both those you have on yourself and those you’ve placed on others.
Take a good, honest look at what you expect from yourself
Is your to-do list realistic? Are your boundaries healthy? Do you catch yourself saying “yes” to things automatically then feel resentful afterwards as you reacted out of obligation to comply? Do you love yourself even when you’re not rocking it? Is your sense of responsibility out of whack with what is reasonable? Do you agree to do the unachievable then spiral as you inevitably fail to achieve it?
Now, take an honest look at what you expect from others
Do you expect them to do, think, feel, or respond in the way you would in a given situation? Do you hear yourself saying “well I wouldn’t do that?” If so, you are setting them up to fail and lining yourself up for disappointment. As harsh as it may be, the reality is that others can never, ever meet that expectation because they are simply not you. They don’t have your priorities, your perspective, or your motives. Sooner or later, they are going to disappoint or fail you if you hold them up to your own standards, if they haven’t already.
For too many years, I caused undue harm to myself and my relationships by expecting others to behave, think, or do what I would.
I dream big, and that’s a good thing, but it also means I sometimes have to reel myself in. There’s a balance that we all need if we are going to thrive in life. That sweet spot evolves constantly, so don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are struggling to find it.
Try this on for size, even for a week
Release everyone in your life from thinking, feeling, or behaving the way you would, and let them be who they are! Also, get real on what’s humanly possible, for you and for others. If you don’t hold people up to unobtainable standards and allow them to show their strengths, there will be less room for disappointment.
After all, it’s their unique qualities, their individual passions, that drew you to them to begin with. Appreciate their different perspective rather than focusing on the disappointment that they aren’t you.
Try that on for size and see how that shifts your dynamic. This is where unconditional love comes into play; the ability to love someone even when they don’t do what you want or expect them to do.
FYI, this applies to yourself as well! No matter how much of a super-human you are, you are still human, so give yourself some love, dial your expectations down to challenging but achievable and reset.
We can diffuse disappointment with this mindset adjustment and, with it, appreciate ourselves and our loved ones more. I hope this new perspective on expectations will help improve your quality of life, improve your relationships, and continue to guide you to your best self.
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