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Why Are Expectations So Painful? And How To Best Cope Up With Them

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Why Are Expectations So Painful
Photo by Jan Tinneberg on Unsplash

The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools. — Confucius

Before I Start let me ask you a question, What do you expect to get out of this article? Let me guess: you read the title and instantly you had an expectation clouding your mind, you’re hoping for something to help you stop being disappointed all the time, or you’re seeking for a quick fix to control your expectations or you are expecting this will be a long boring article just explaining expectation in theory. Something like that right?

That’s where the problem starts, Expectations are painful. But why is it? Why is it that managing expectation is such a neglected skill? This goes way deeper than we ‘expect’.

Before we start to answer the Why? we must know the What?. So, What are expectations? in a layman’s language: Expectation is a strong belief that something will happen or be the case. To put it another way, the expectation is neither a promise nor an excuse, it’s a guess based on a lot of assumptions about what the future might bring.

Motivation, hope, expectation, trust, vulnerability, excitement, and other key emotions and feelings are all embodied in it. It can take you up to the cloud or submerge you deep within the Mariana Trench. Isn’t it terrifying?. Mastering your expectations is a skilful art that takes a lot of practice and patience, and it can be a tough job. Which is a reason why most of us are deprived of this skill.

Expectations and where to find them?

There are plenty of situations where we’ll discover our minds enslaved by expectation, the most common of which are:

Expectation and Relationships

Human beings are a social creature, this is also quoted by Aristotle the legendary Greek philosopher, he said-

 “Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual.” 

Man cannot live alone and as we grow we make our own connections and group of buddies we hang out with (and who knows our deepest and darkest secrets). And then comes expectation, We anticipate one individual to be an all-rounder who possesses all of the qualities. However, we are upset when he fails in one or more of these duties. EXPECTATIONS HURTS!.

We expect someone with whom we share a bond to be honest and respectful of our secrets, but when he or she fails to do so, we are upset. EXPECTATIONS INTO PLAY AGAIN!. We expect others to respect our privacy as much as we value theirs, but when they don’t, we become uneasy. EXPECTATIONS ONCE AGAIN!.

The same thing happens when we expect someone to break our trust, but they not only keep it, but also support you through life’s ups and downs. Expectations have been shattered again, but in a good and positive manner.

Expectations and Professional Life

We show our clients those stars that can’t be obtained in our haste to get the deal. They begin to anticipate something out of the world because we rant so much about our services. When the product/service is delivered, however, expectations are shattered. Why? Because we over-promised and under-delivered.

Same thing happens when we under-promise and overdeliver but the results are positive. You might be a newbie, and a client might not expect miracles from you. However, when you exceed their expectations and give a performance that is out of this world, you will be remembered. They’re confused, and expectations have been shattered again, but in a good and positive manner.

So, now we know expectations can be positive too but where do we go wrong?

People say that ‘no expectation, no disappointments.” Do you agree? because I don’t. Expectations are a part of human, they help you be a better person by constantly keeping you motivated to achieve your goal. Without expectations a man is merely a hollow shell. No expectations leads to no motivation, no purpose, no dreams, no hopes and these Quadra-elements are necessary for us to commune in our daily lives.

Now the questions arises how will you control or manage your own expectation?

Have you heard of the term realist? to put it simply a realist is a person who accepts a situation as it is and is prepared to deal with it accordingly. In short, there are some limits to which you should allow your expectations to fluctuate. How can you be a realist when it comes to expectation? try focussing on below points:

You Must Evaluate Your Expectations

First, evaluate your expectations. Is it possible to get there? Is that even possible? Is it attainable? Expectations that are unattainable and unreasonable can only lead to disappointments. Something that may also be termed as impractical or unreachable.

Be Prepared With All The Worst-Case-Scenarios

Consider all worst-case scenarios and what you might do if they occur. Sit with your thoughts and try to anticipate every conceivable conclusion. Overthinkers might find this activity a child’s play because they’re used to thinking about worst case scenarios. Still this isn’t a very tough job, all you need to do is sit and think about what can go wrong. To your surprise this activity might be your nirvana from serious expectations getting hurtful.

Contingency Plan

Rather than waste energy daydreaming, focus your efforts on devising a plan to deal with the situation. Make these strategies ahead of time, and keep in mind that the coin can be flipped both ways. However, try to maintain a good and positive attitude; this one trait will ensure that you do not sell your soul to the devil.


There’s always two sides to a coin. Tell your mind to be prepared to view both ends of the spectrum. Be brave enough to accept the outcome, whatever it may be. Acceptance is a character quality that will help you stay motivated.

Expectations are simply our best approximations carved into theory. It has the potential to enslave us in two ways. It has the potential to make our lives more difficult than ever if it is mismanaged. And it can minimise disappointments, when your approach is reasonable or when you manage expectations professionally. Simple isn’t? And be aware having higher expectation can lead to depression when not fulfilled.

If you want to learn more about depression read-> Teenage Depression: All You Need To Know

It’s your turn now, put down those unhealthy, unrealistic, out of the box expectation to rest and choose, whether you’ll play with your expectations or let expectations play with you.

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gate io
3 months ago

For my thesis, I consulted a lot of information, read your article made me feel a lot, benefited me a lot from it, thank you for your help. Thanks!