“Expectations is the root to all heartache” Shakespeare said. Expectations are probably one of if not the very reason when others disappoint us. ‘I expected more from him/her’ we sometimes say without realizing that we by saying this have determined not only how another person should be thinking but also behaving. When the other person fails to act or react as we expect, we get disappointed. Clearly s(he) did not meet my expectations and failed to think in the same way as me. That is where most of us are wrong. We grow up setting expectations about people surrounding us that should match a perfect pattern of reaction. Does it exist?
Here is the thing. You were not born to meet my expectations as I was not born to meet yours. Everyone is fighting their own battles just like you, so expecting others to think like you, feel like you and even having the same opinions like you is likely to add to your disappointments. Still, this is hard. How can one even relate to other people with zero expectations? Buddhists talk about the “wanting mind” and how expectations make us suffer and it makes sense. Think about the number of times you got angry, sad or disappointed just because someone failed to act as you expected. Now imagine doing what you are doing without anticipating how others react, i.e. what you expect from them. Now, that already feels better
Live on the edge – don’t even expect people to like you. Either they like you or they don’t. Bottom line is, if your struggle is to be liked by everyone, surely you will have to operate with many different masks which might not even be anything like you. If you spend your life living up to other people’s expectations you are wasting your time and forever chasing someone else’s standards. Expectations and reality seldom match. Imagine you landed the job you always wanted. Still, you are not happy because you are then caught in another set of expectations. Do you recognize yourself in this?
And so it goes on. Expectations remain ghosts in your life, making you irritable, disillusioned and disappointed. Not that it is easy to free yourself from expectations you have of others and others of you. Yet, if you manage to focus on your “wants” rather than “shoulds” you avoid feeling guilty for not having done as expected by people around you and the best part of it – you will no longer be disappointed by others. Alexander Pope expressed it this way “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”