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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Expectations and Disappointment


Do you have high expectations? Are your expectations higher for yourself than for other people? If you do have high expectations, the chances are that you also experience a lot of disappointment because things don't turn out the way you thought they should, or your high standards aren't met.
The dictionary describes expectations as "a confident belief or strong hope that a particular event will happen; a mental image of something expected, often compared to its reality; a standard of conduct or performance expected by or of somebody." It's not that it's not good to have high standards or to expect the best - it definitely is. I think it's when we insist or believe that things should be a certain way and then that doesn't happen, it sets us up for disappointment.
For example, let's say that you expect people to show up on time. You always show up on time for appointments and you expect everyone else to as well. It's not an unreasonable expectation. Except that not everybody shows up on time. So what happens when someone is late for an appointment with you? If your expectation is that everyone should show up on time, it's most likely that you will be angry or upset. In other words, you'll take it personally - you'll feel the disappointment of an expectation that hasn't been met.
In reality, you know that not everyone is as punctual as you are. Not everyone does show up on time, if they show up at all. So by having the expectation that everyone should show up on time, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
Let's take it to another level. Let's say you have a good friend who is habitually late. You know she's often late, and yet you still expect her to arrive on time. When she doesn't you will be disappointed. You've set yourself up for disappointment.
Does this sound familiar? Think of all the times you experience disappointment when something doesn't happen the way you think it should or when someone doesn't do what you expect them to do in the way that you expect them to do it. Or perhaps you do something that doesn't turn out as well as you think it should have.
For many people, disappointment is a common theme in their life. If that's true for you, I invite you to consider that your disappointment with external situations and with other people might have more to do with you feeling disappointed with yourself. If you have high expectations for others, it's because you have high expectations for yourself. In fact those self-expectations are probably so high that it's practically impossible to ever meet them.
This is just one of the ways in which we keep ourselves stuck. You might see the world as unfair or unfriendly because things don't happen the way you think they should or because people don't behave the way you think they should. You are stuck in the energy of disappointment.
If you are willing to end the cycle of expectation and disappointment, one thing that can be helpful is to make a list of all the things you are disappointed about and then see how they are related to you. Then you could make a list of all the ways you feel disappointed with yourself and your life, with what you have or haven't accomplished.
This exercise can be quite revealing, but even more than that, once you bring this into your awareness you will start to see how the pattern plays out for you and you can choose not to feel disappointment when things don't turn out as you'd wish and not to set such impossibly high expectations for yourself.
Linda Binns is an Energy Coach and Mentor, helping professional women and women business owners achieve work-life balance and freedom by identifying and releasing whatever is holding them back.
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