The reality is that you can’t make everyone like you – no matter how hard you try.
This is one of the many ‘unreal expectations’ you might be carrying which comes in the way of achieving a sense of harmony in your life. While carrying unreal expectations are part of human existence and everyone carries one or the other, it doesn’t mean they are healthy.
The problem with ‘unreal expectations’
Unreal expectations can chip away at our emotional and physical health. They can affect your relationships, goals and even steer our lives towards unhealthy habits. It sets you up for failure. When you carry for example an expectation that “I like everything to be perfect in my life” you are clearly setting yourself up for failure as it is impossible to have a perfect outcome all the time. And then when you do not get the so-called perfect outcome, you berate yourself by concluding “how stupid you have been” or “how incompetent of you to have not controlled the situation”. This can leave you depressed.
It is the same with relationships as well. If you have an expectation of a perfect or ideal relationship you fail to factor in all factors other than yourself which could come in the way of achieving that perfect relationship. You know that relationships require quite a bit of effort to sustain and needs your partner to share the same goals that you have. It requires you to compromise or give-in a little at times to ensure the stability. When that does not happen you may end up feeling that your relationship is hopeless and avoid working on issues. This then starts to impact other parts of your life and its harmony.
Some expectations might feel very fair and reasonable to have. For example as a parent you might expect your kids to be well behaved all of the time and in your effort to enforce such behaviors you might experience disappointments and regular conflicts.
Actually you have been conditioned to believe that you must set yourself high goals and expectations as they motivate us to reach what we aspire for. The worry for most of us is the lack of such high standards would make us just pass time without accomplishing much in life.
If you list down all your expectations from the eight dimensions of life i.e., family, money, career, social relationship, leisure, personal growth, health and spiritual; you will come to realize where you might be setting high standards – that are unreal to expect.
I’ve seen people attending sessions on ‘Kundalini Awakening’ and expecting that ‘it’ be awakened in the very first session. When they see that it didn’t happen they get depressed or keep blaming or doubting their competency for ‘awakening their Kundalini’.
Of family you might carry an expectation that all members must be ‘supportive’ of you all the time. This may not be possible as others supportive actions are never in your control. You cannot then blame or curse yourself for having been born in a family which is not supportive.
Another funny one which I encounter often is the expectation “If my partner loves me then should know how I feel and what I expect. There is no need for me to tell them explicitly”. How the heck is the other person going to know what you expect unless you tell them? Isn’t it the most common and unreal expectation in a marriage which couples end up making?
Isn’t it the same in almost all walks of our life? Have you been a victim of ‘unreal expectations’? How has it been affecting the ‘work-life balance’ or ‘harmony in your life’?
Is there any way you can discard your ‘unreal expectations’ and start to bring a semblance of balance in your life and living?
How to discard ‘Unreal Expectations?
Not calibrating your expectations as well as others expectations of you can have a deep impact in the way you feel about your life. Therefore it is important that you have some strategies which will help you avoid the pitfalls of ‘unreal expectations’ in your life. Here are a few you can do for starters.
- Practice self-compassion – before you can be of help to others and meet others expectations of you, you must take care of yourself first. As during the flight safety announcement it is said “please put on your oxygen mask before you help others” holds true in life as well. It is important that you accept yourself the way you are (including your flaws)
- Know what you ‘control’ – Often we spend our energy and time in controlling things which are not under our direct control or influence. In doing so, we miss the ones which could keep us steady and on track. Know that you can control ‘what you think?’; ‘what you say?’; and ‘what you do?’ and believe in that firmly.
- Practice assertiveness – Don’t be passive, especially when you are having to deal with others expectations of you; whether in personal or professional life. Speak up and don’t let others dictate ‘who you are?’; ‘what you should do?’ and ‘how you should do?’. Make your choices. You don’t need to be rude though when you practice assertiveness. It’s only that you need to know your boundaries and let others know when they are out of limits.
- Self-acceptance – When you are able to accept yourself for who you are and know your boundaries, you are better able to accept others for who they are. It’s liberating to not come under pressure of undue expectations from self and others.
- Stop perfectionism – It’s never a happy moment for the perfectionists. Accept the fact that life brings with it its own set of surprises and challenges. Learn to humor and enjoy the roller-coaster of the ride than expecting it to be a smooth linear line.
Calibrating our expectations does not mean lowering the bar but it’s about letting go of unnecessary pressure from those which are unreal. The less stressed you are the better you would perform. Start with listing your expectations on all dimensions of your life and then make a realistic assessment of them.
Don’t get pressured from ‘unreal expectations’ and screw up the ‘harmony’ of your life.