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EXPECTATIONS – the mind trap that is guaranteed to set you up for stress, frustration and disappointment - Life Guidance and Inspiration

EXPECTATIONS – the mind trap that is guaranteed to set you up for stress, frustration and disappointment

Not only does this mind trap lead us to feeling irritable and exhausted but it can cause stress and harm to those around us because we can become very demanding as we seek absolute control and perfection from everyone and everything around us!

Do you ever tend to place unrealistic expectations on yourself, your family or life in general? Do you allow yourself to accept the unrealistic expectations of others to affect how you live your life?

When our expectations are not met exactly as we want, we experience feelings of intense frustration. It can be a huge cause of stress because we use so much energy trying to make things unfold exactly as we want them. It is exhausting for us, as well as everyone else around us.

When we are caught in the grip of the expectations trap we can become very demanding. We are probably not aware of the effect we are having on others around us. Because our needs are so extreme, we control every detail, and we can end up pushing others away from us.

When we invest greatly in something or someone, then we tend to expect a far greater return. This is so often seen between parents and children. The parent is desperate for the child to live up to their expectations. Quite possibly these expectations have been passed down through the generations.

The child will almost certainly rebel in some way or the other. And if this pattern is not healed, they may, in time also pass on their expectations to their own children!

The same can be true of a creative project or anything which we have poured a lot of time and energy into. If the final result doesn’t match the vision we had at the outset or the response of others is not what we hoped, we can experience bitter disappointment.

Try to remember to enjoy the ‘process’ of creating rather than just focussing on the final outcome or result.

When we are trying to get our expectations met we can become very demanding. And if things don’t work out the way we want them to, sometimes we can get very truculent and almost childish. It is generally not a very endearing scenario.

Perfectionism often accompanies unrealistic expectations. We may find ourselves saying “it would be perfect if only ……“ and then we qualify the experience in some way. We will also often refer to situations using words such as “should”, “ought” and “must”.

Interestingly, on the rare occasions when an expectation is exactly met, fulfilled in every way; we may experience only a momentary sense of pleasure and satisfaction. Almost straightaway, we will start looking at what we want next and how it should be fulfilled.

When we place unrealistic or unnecessary expectations on ourselves or others, inevitably we will experience disappointment, frustration and even anger. It is so often better to set achievable and realistic goals. Once these are attained, we get more energy to motivate us to move forward.

However, this does NOT mean we should stop dreaming, nor should we restrict our ambitions and hopes. Far from it. The remedy is not to start “playing it safe”.

Have a vision of what you wish for but be flexible and open to other possibilities. Remember, our expectations can actually limit our options and restrict what can come into our lives.

Try to discern between “expectation” and “expectancy”. Expectancy helps us to be receptive and open to all sorts of possibilities – it has an air of excitement and anticipation about it. Whereas the “expectations trap” has a much more passive energy. We tend to wait for something to be delivered; often with a preconceived idea of exactly what form that delivery should take! And if it should fail to meet our “expectations” in any way, we are likely to feel very annoyed and disappointed.

When you give, do so without any expectation of something in return. Aim to give unconditionally and accept whatever gifts life brings you with graciousness and gratitude; even if it is unexpected. With this openness you may find some wonderful and unexpected gifts coming your way.

What motivates our expectations? When we expect great things from ourselves or our children; is it because we are truly striving for excellence? Or is it because we want to show the world what we have achieved; in other words, is pride fuelling these expectations?

If a long anticipated ‘special event’ does not go to plan, it is natural to feel disappointment. But if we can learn to let go of our attachment to perfection and control, we will end up feeling a lot happier. It is so much more helpful to accept that life rarely turns out exactly as we wish or expect. With a more philosophical approach we will feel more content and relaxed.

There are various strategies to help us overcome the expectations mind trap, including acceptance [accepting what we simply cannot control or change – as well as accepting our “humanness”] – authenticity [honouring our true nature] – mindfulness [which leads to greater self-awareness] – compassion [kindness towards ourselves and others, so we become more understanding about our frailties and limitations. And humour – sometimes things just do not turn out as expected; and sometimes the only thing we can do about that is laugh!

Having unrealistic and demanding expectations is likely to set you up for disappointment, frustration and resentment. But being open, receptive and in a state of expectancy will help you to receive all that is good in life.

So choose today to live in the real world, accept reality with all its uncertainties and imperfections; then your life will become so much easier and more joyful.

Let go of the fantasies and start relishing the much more exciting ‘real life’ adventures which can unfold as you follow your sacred path through this life.


“Expectations” is one of the Life challenge cards from the Life Guidance & Inspiration app – you can find this free mobile app on Google play and the Apple App store.

    1 Comment

  1. I’m happy I found this site. Lots of helpful thoughts to relieve stress and become energize.

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