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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Ripley-Evans

Creating realistic expectations

Updated: Dec 6, 2019

An expectation is defined as “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case”. We all have them, and there is nothing wrong with having expectations. In fact, it is very important to have them, and we will all experience expectations to varying degrees about everything that happens in our lives.

Types of expectations

In this world of chaos, we seem to be in desperate need for some peace and calm to help us re-energise ourselves so that we can carry on. This is even more important when we add children into the mix. The question is, how? Some expectations take place in the background of our minds and we are not even aware of them, while others can consume our thoughts at times and cause significant challenges in the relationships we have with others, as well as with ourselves. It is important to take time to become aware of the expectations that we engage with the world through. Below are some considerations that can help you begin creating greater awareness.

  • Front of mind - consciously aware of these expectations.

  • Back of mind - subconsciously sitting in the back of our minds.

  • Expectations of self

  • Expectation of others

  • Expectations of things

  • Expectations of things in our control vs out of our control.

The power of expectations

At the heart of all frustration and disappointment are unmet expectations. I challenge you to consider the most recent disappointment you experienced, can you recall what the cause of this was? If you are able to reflect on this you are most likely going to arrive at a realisation that you had an expectation of a person, yourself or a situation that did not unfold as you had hoped (or expected) it to. Expectations have the ability to make or break relationships as well as individuals, and we need to be conscious of the role that we allow them to play in our lives on a daily basis. Expectations can be extremely powerful, and it is critical that they remain within our control and awareness.

Cycle of negative expectations

Unmet expectations can and likely will lead to arguments/fights/frustrations for all of us in all of the contexts that we operate in. The interesting thing is that the reason for our frustrations is not often related to the fact that OUR expectations have not been met, but rather there is a tendency to seek reasons or excuses through others behaviours. By emphasising the other persons behaviour, we do bring to the surface our expectations and can often make others aware of these expectations (unfortunately this is often done in indirect ways). Through this engagement, the other person or people become aware of what behaviour or actions ‘should’ have taken place. There is then likely to be a change in the behaviour, but often this is short lived. The reason that the effect is short lived is often due to the following:

  • Frustrations / concerns are raised

  • Other person aware / forced to be aware of their action

  • Changes occur in others behaviour to meet expectation raised

  • Reason / understanding not internalised by other as reasoning behind change is for another, not self.

  • Over time, behaviour cycles back, creating an unmet expectation again.

Adjusting Expectations