A crucial part of living a healthy life is living with healthy expectations. We cannot escape having expectations. We have them for ourselves, for others and essentially every aspect of life that affects us.
These expectations we carry are both an unavoidable part of life, a potential pain inducing one, and one with important benefits. Let’s find some ways to make these expectations as healthy as possible.
Developing expectations is an unavoidable part of our existence. These expectations are grown as we and our brains get busy putting a life together.
Our brains formulate plans naturally and when we start wanting such and such they get concocting. They say, “okay if we do X+Y then I am pretty sure we will get Z.” The more convinced we become that this equation is correct, the more we expect it to happen.
The only ones that can build our lives the way we can live with, is ourselves. But there are many more aspects of life that we will have to rely on others or sometimes sheer luck to bring about the best lives we can. So with the way our brains formulate, it also may have to say that X is the spouse, the colleague, the child, the parent, or our understanding of how an aspect of life works.
Just as expectations are unavoidable, as are the inevitable disappointment we will experience as many of these expectations are unmet. Being disappointed generally doesn’t feel good. But does that mean that all expectations should be avoided so we can avoid that feeling altogether? Absolutely not.
Some would actually say that the way to a healthy life is to have no expectations at all. That this state of not expecting anything would be the ultimate peaceful way. But sorry, there is going to be a lot of disappointment while learning to not expect. Even anticipation of peace from not expecting anything becomes an expectation we will likely be disappointed by.
A Life without Expectation.
What would life be like without expectation? If you didn’t expect to get in trouble for not showing up to work on time, would you? If your spouse or friends didn’t require good treatment to build a healthy relationship, would you treat them the same or more poorly? When you were a child if you hadn’t come to expect that the hot stove will burn you, would you have stopped messing with it?
Of course, the list goes on and on about how our expectations are useful. When we come to learn about the world and how it works, we anticipate at least to a certain degree that it will continue as such. Our expectations can save us from pain, help us predict future becoming’s, and allow us to develop healthy relationships.
Expectations are of course not created equal and we don’t have to live in a consistent state of disappointment because we have them. A big part of this is learning how to lessen the amount of unhealthy expectation in our routine, and developing more of the healthy variety.
Healthy and Unhealthy Expectations.
These ways that we expect, affect all aspects of our lives. They affect our relationship with ourselves, our relationship to life, and relationships with other people. There is tremendous value in taking great care in the way we create these expectations. Our healthy connection to all of these relationships depends on this.
I hope you are getting my point that there are healthy and unhealthy expectations. We could call them necessary or unnecessary expectations. Sometimes they are referred to as reasonable and unreasonable, sometimes realistic and unrealistic. Learning to differentiate between the two is critical for our ability to have an enjoyable life.
So how do we? How do we expect in healthy ways and avoid expecting in ways that could be self and relationship damaging?
Guidance for Creating Healthy Expectations.
1. Set Personal Standards and Purpose for how We Expect.
You have probably heard the old adage that “If we stand for nothing, we will fall for anything.” This is the statement that rings true when we do not have purpose and standards, guiding our bodily impulses.
To have healthy relationships we have to set personal standards and purpose for how we expect. We need to formulate a go-to way that we will allow ourselves to expect, and for how we do it. Otherwise, we leave our expectations up to chance, maybe it will come out healthy, or maybe a little crazy.
The remaining points here are suggested standards to be placed on how we expect, with the purpose of creating trusting healthy relationships, and reducing personal pain.
2. Communicate Expectations.
Communication is a vital part of developing healthy relationships. That goes for ourselves and our relationships with others.
We need to make sure that we stay informed about what we are expecting. Reminding ourselves of those expectations in some manner. The same goes for our relationships with others, uncommunicated expectations can put great strain on our relations with others.
Without communicating what is expected we will likely be disappointed that those around us or even ourselves are not respecting our wishes. Well, they aren’t respecting our wishes because they probably don’t know our wishes!
We have every right in the world, and even obligation to communicate what and why we expect something. Communicating these expectations may be uncomfortable at first but in the long run, it can save a great deal of unnecessary disappointment and sore feelings.
3. Experience and Knowledge are Key.
The knowledge and experience that we have is the key to developing healthy expectations. A well-informed mind will have a much more keen sense for what to expect than one that is misinformed or uninformed.
As we learn that certain ways of behaving will lead to pain, we learn to expect that pain. So we can have the opportunity to avoid it. On the flipside, when we come to expect positive results by learning what brings those results, then we can engage in more of those behaviors to help our lives out.
Studied experience teaches us reasonable expectations. No there is no substitute for personal experience. But, learning from the experiences of others is very important as well.
4. Practice Intellectual Humility.
Experience and knowledge are essential in living with healthy expectations, but even with these, we can’t always expect them to be accurate. To expect that is foolhardy as all hell.
Life is going to surprise us with curveballs. None of us have all the information, or time to study all the aspects that can affect us. We need to leave ourselves open to be surprised. Being in the habit of closed-mindedness and overconfidence in our personal knowledge is not a good use of our mental and emotional life.
Expectations that are left open to change are expectations that will hurt less when they are not met.
5. Learn a Healthy Level of Emotional Detachment.
Emotional detachment as I am calling it isn’t about separating ourselves from our emotions. That is actually a recipe for losing touch with ourselves when maintaining connection with self is ideal. Instead, it is about separating our emotions from expected outcomes.
The more emotionally attached we are to an expectation, the more disappointment is likely when it is not met. This is not a message to try and get you to rid yourself of excitement for hopes and dreams coming true. But I do recommend being careful.
Life is an ever-changing thing, that being said, our expectations need to be flexible. Our thoughts and emotions also need to remain as agile as possible to deal with the onslaught of life changes in a healthy way. The more attached we are to a certain expectation needing to come true, in a certain way, the harder it will be to let go of when it is no longer useful.
With as difficult as the realm of expectations can be, with some work, anyone with the capacity for rational thought can learn to have healthy ones.
The guidelines in this article are intentionally held vague, use the ideas in it to fill in the blanks with the specific ways you will put these ideas into action.
If you have any ideas and would like to share them, please share them in the comment section below.
Well, that is all we have for today and thank you so much for stopping into My Life Experiment. What is written here has come from struggle and growth.
We sincerely wish you amazing success in living with healthy expectations.
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My Life Experiment
Welcome! We are Travis and Casey Hagen, the writer's and owner's of My Life Experiment. As recovering Individuals, we are no strangers to leaving behind dysfunctional ways of living. Over the years we have become adept at managing our intense mental and emotional worlds. Finding healing from the past, peace in the present and new ways to bring about success for our futures. We promote Healthy Life Experimentation Principles for connecting with ourselves, our relationships, and finding healthier ways of bringing about success in our lives. Stick around and pick up what we have learned. You will not be disappointed.
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