“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” – Alexander Pope
Most of us can say at one point or another that we have felt the weight of expectations in our life.
Expectations can come from family, friends or work. They can most definitely come from ourselves too.
Our personal expectations usually relate to what we believe will make us feel happy and fulfilled. We set them up in the hopes of having our needs met. We hold the vision internally for a particular outcome and we tell ourselves that our expectations are what will make it happen.
Expectations can be great! When we hold a high standard for ourselves in life we achieve more, have more purpose and can be more focused on achieving our goals.
But what happens if our expectations are out of balance? What are the challenges and dangers associated with having expectations?
The first danger with expectations is that they often go unchecked, perhaps for years or even a whole lifetime. This makes them deeply ingrained in our subconscious, so often they are operating without us being aware of them consciously at all.
The second danger with expectations is when we hold that expectation internally without communicating it, often because we are not aware of it, this often leads to the expectation not being fulfilled, which breeds anger, resentment and frustration.
“Expectations are premeditated resentments.”
When we hold an expectation about something, we believe that the outcome we desire will be met without the action required.
It’s sort of like wanting to eat pizza but just sitting on the couch and thinking about pizza. Even if you are planning to get pizza delivered, you still need to pick up your phone and order it! The pizza is not just going to show up because you expect it to.
The same goes for other people. People are not going to help you to get your needs met because you expect them to. The only way you can achieve the outcome of having your physical, mental and emotional needs met is to take action.
The action required is communication.
Rather than holding expectations, we need to learn to ask for what we want.
Communicating our needs calmy and clearly, with our outcome in mind but without attachment to it, is the best way for us to get what we need.
It seems so simple, doesn’t it? So why do most of us choose expectations over communication?
When we communicate our needs, we open ourselves up to be seen, which requires honesty, and vulnerability. It means allowing yourself to be honest about what you want, vulnerable enough to embrace it.
Communicating what you want without attachment means accepting that you may not have your needs met by the other person, because they may choose not to or because they simply can’t.
Although this is difficult, what you lose when you choose to do this is the sense of anxiety that comes with holding expectations. Expectations give us questions. When you communicate, you get your answers. For better or for worse.
While it may seem scary to start with, over time asking for what you want gets easier. With practice, you will improve, and you will ultimately get more of your needs met because nobody will be left to guess your expectations.
Have you asked yourself what it is you need today?