Expectations often lead to disappointment. What’s more, they cause us to miss what is happening around us. We become so focused on our expectations that if things don’t go exactly according to our plans, we are miserable. We miss the joy of letting things unfold. In forcing a situation to meet our will, we ruin a good thing, stopping a budding relationship in its tracks, for example, or driving away a customer in our eagerness to close a deal. Everything in life has a natural progression that cannot be rushed. Things must happen in their own time. Expectations cause us to focus only on that which has gone awry, rather than to appreciate the many unexpected gifts in our lives.
On the topic of expectations, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“Expectations are real killers! They are setups for disappointment. Often, because of our expectations, we are completely oblivious to what is really going on in a situation. Because we are so wedded to what we think should be happening, or what we want to happen, we don’t see what is happening.
Many a possible relationship has been aborted because we were too determined to turn it into a relationship.
Expectations also keep us in illusion. We set up our expectations for someone, we project them onto the other person, and then we start reacting to our expectations as if they were real. Expectations and the illusion of control are intimately linked.”
Expectations set us up for disappointment because they provide a schema for comparison, and we all know comparison is the thief of joy. Nothing will be perfect. Life doesn’t go according to plan. People are fickle and unpredictable, so how could we ever expect them to adhere to the arbitrary demands we place upon them? When we build up expectations for others, we often don’t tell them, so how can they possibly know why we are upset when they fail to meet them? When we let go of our expectations, we open our eyes to all that is happening in the moment. We start to really live. We learn to revel in the miraculous and surprising gifts the universe invents to please us. We are delighted by life as it happens, instead of disappointed by its failure to live up to our often unreasonable and unattainable expectations.