Excerpt from my self-help book, Make Your Expectations Work for You:
Expectations that Lead to Disappointment
We are seekers of well-being. Our well-being depends on meeting basic needs for survival and comfort, as well as what makes us feel good – which can vary according to our individual preferences. However we define well-being, we seek it as the overarching experience in everything we do in life.
Unfortunately, there are obstacles to this. A major but preventable obstacle lies in how we set ourselves up for disappointment via expectations.
A knee-jerk reaction to disappointment is to eliminate expectations altogether. There are spiritual schools of thought that believe this is the route to take. However, I don’t think it’s practical to stop doing what comes naturally to us – to expect. Rather, I believe identifying and separating healthy expectations from unhealthy ones, and eliminating the latter, is the way to go about it. Doing the exercises in this book will hopefully allow you to achieve this process.
For years I wondered why my expectations would lead to disappointment. It was as if I was at one moment brimming with hope and the next moment crashing landing. It caused me varying degrees of heartache and pain.
Eventually, through close examination of my behavioral patterns, I discovered that a lot of times the disappointment would have been avoided if I had let go of expectations that were actually not beneficial to me – ones that were unhealthy. Expectations that are unhealthy prevent well-being for ourselves and usually for others as well. What I consider unhealthy is having expectations that cause unnecessary suffering.
To let go of unhealthy expectations, you have to first identify them. You have to examine what kind of expectations you have been holding on to. Unhealthy ones do nothing but increase the likelihood for suffering that you’re better off without. Once you see the disappointment and pain certain expectations set you up for, you have more of an incentive to let them go. But you also have to discover exactly what the payoffs your unhealthy expectations bring or you would have never had them to begin with.
Of course, even after we let go of unhealthy expectations, we can never completely prevent disappointment from occurring. Life has no guarantees. It is human nature to be let down even with healthy expectations and with events that catch us off guard. Therefore, it is important to change how you view outcomes in life and implement skills in handling whatever outcome to minimize experiencing disappointment.
Without having an effective strategy in knowing how to reduce the chances of being disappointed and improve the chances of being fulfilled, you will continue to suffer letdowns for the rest of your life when it is actually unnecessary to do so.
The fact is, when you’re spending less time and energy on being disappointed, you have more time and energy for being productive and experiencing good feelings.
It is absolutely possible to have expectations without constant disappointment bogging you down and interrupting your flow. We may not be able to eradicate all disappointment in life, but this book shows us the way to minimize its occurrence, by making sure we have healthy expectations.