Are you bogged down by expectations?

  • Expectations of others
  • Expectations of your own
  • Expectations of circumstances
  • Expectations of surroundings

You are not the only one! The day we are born, expectations start chasing us, so much so that we start growing up under the weight of expectations of our parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, teachers…

Sometimes we feel that our life is designed to fulfil these expectations and we can’t figure out what to expect from ourselves. Sample this: If you have too many expectations from yourself, life is not that easy. But it has been noticed that many of our dreams and expectations do not turn out the way we wish. This leads to disappointments and recurring disappointments in life can make one feel exasperated with oneself and even with others. With the fast pace of life today, the more one tries to keep up, the further one seems to fall behind.

I am not saying that you have zero expectations in life and live an aimless life. It is okay to have some reasonable expectations which you can honour or ones which do not put unnecessary strain on your mental and physical health. Still, if you have some expectations to fulfil then you should start by putting your oxygen mask first. The first step to getting rid of expectations is to treat yourself kindly. There is a need to adjust the way you think. You cannot control what others think about you, but you can choose how you talk to yourself. If the need is – Speak up, free yourself and free others, and finally Stop Judging, Stop Expecting.

If there is no escape and you are trying to attain unreasonably high goals, this can lead to undue tension and frustration. On the other hand, becoming too lenient with oneself and slowing down can result in disappointments. Deteriorating health or diminished energy magnifies one’s limitations and can trigger feelings of dissatisfaction and distress.

So how do you deal with too many expectations?

To begin with, you need to put the expectations in perspective. Here you need to remember that someone else’s expectation of you is theirs, not yours—and therefore it is their problem, not yours. You need to

check your expectations of others, cultivate your inner voice, and spell out what you want.

Why do expectations lead to stress?

Many times, we set unrealistic or over-ambitious targets for ourselves. The effort required in achieving it drains our energy and leads to a feeling of being inadequate and builds up stress levels. Expectations from others, in terms of targets/achievements or supporting us, also are a cause of stress.

Not only do people around you have unrealistic expectations of you, but you too can also have them and you do not even realize this. This way it is a two-way traffic in your head where expectations are running amok. These unrealistic expectations are considered toxic for your relationships, careers, happiness, and life in general. Expecting too much from someone or yourself is stressful. All these thoughts make you unhappy because we as humans always expect outcomes and when those expectations are not fulfilled, we get frustrated.

It has been noticed that expectations also cause anxiety. Having unrealistic expectations about the self can contribute to increased feelings of anxiety, dissatisfaction, and difficulty coping with symptoms. Perfectionism is usually the result of trying to live up to an internal ideal, but it can also be motivated by fear, such as worrying about how others perceive you.

Many times, we have noticed that dwelling on constraints prevents us from seeing possibilities that are still within reach. One can stay active and happy by adjusting the way one uses one’s physical, mental, and emotional resources. Being balanced in what one expects of oneself and showing consideration and appreciation for any help offered by others builds cooperation and mutual understanding. The belief that one must be perfect in everything afflicts the thinking of many. There is a big difference between the healthy pursuit of excellence and the unhealthy striving for an impossible ideal.

How do you reduce emotional pressure risen out of expectations?

  • Get active. Any form of physical activity can act as a stress reliever.
  • Laugh more.
  • Connect with others.
  • Assert yourself.
  • Try yoga.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Keep a journal.

It is often noticed that you feel disappointed more if someone does not come up to your expectations. I would term it as a norm, rather an exception. The moment you face such disappointment because another person did not come through for you; say to yourself, “It’s not for me to have those expectations of that other person.” Just the act of letting yourself know now that you are not supposed to have high expectations of the other person will automatically help you handle and cope with the other person not coming through for you.

Remember, ultimately, the purpose of reducing your expectations of other people is not necessarily to give other people around you some sort of gift or pass. The entire goal is to help you as an individual stop feeling constant frustration, anger, and disappointment from those around you.

While we talk of expectations from others, we need to assess the expectations we have for ourselves. By raising the level of expectations, you have for yourself and trying to reach your personal goals, you should begin to feel more empowered and freer. If you have expectations of other people and they disappoint you, you are permitting the other people to dictate how you are going to feel. That is a lot of power to give to other people. It’s never a good idea to give other people that sort of power and control over you. That power and management need to come internally from within.

This will certainly enhance your happiness quotient. Just try once, living a few days bereft of any expectations – from others, from yourself and notice the internal peace you enjoy.

Embrace happiness, happyHO!