Great Expectations

“The only way to avoid disappointment is to lose all expectations.”

I’m sorry—what? My last post was on handling disappointment and I was shocked at the amount of quotes on the subject which suggest that to avoid disappointment entirely, we need to quit expecting anything at all. I totally disagree.

Our expectations—of ourselves, of others, and of our lives—are powerful tools that simply need proper management. They are established and based on the perception of ability, the resources provided, and past outcomes of similar situations. This would suggest that we would rationally form our expectations within the realm of feasible possibility. As long as our expectations are reasonably designed and arguably attainable, then they provide positive reinforcement for a person striving to meet those expectations. If the expectation is outrageous or demands too much of an individual or situation (i.e. if it does not appear feasible to achieve this outcome) then the expectation itself will provide negative reinforcement and deter someone from believing they can reach the desired outcome.

Expectations of others teach them that they may be capable of so much more than they imagined of themselves. We see ourselves through the world around us, so when someone expects something of us, we are led to believe that it means we are more capable than we thought. They believe I can do it, and have rationalized this expectation of me, so I bet I can do it! It encourages us to push harder and test our own limits. This is confidence building.

Expectations of ourselves help us to avoid settling for less than we feel we deserve or that we want to achieve. We may be reaching for the stars, but that isn’t a bad thing. It means we are constantly striving to get to a level that we feel reflects our abilities and contributed efforts.

Conclusion–Expectations, when reasonably designed, provide positive reinforcement for the desire to achieve and improve. What we see in others helps them to see it within themselves and what we see in ourselves helps us to keep striving to improve ourselves and never settle for less than we deserve. With no expectations, it would be very hard to desire to progress or try hard.

Expect great things—and do not fear the possibility of disappointment. It happens, but it teaches you to find a new path to those great things we all desire.

Please share your thoughts! I’m eager to hear what people think in regards to disappointment and the expectations that go with it.


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