The different kinds of expectations we have end up shaping our world. As writer JK Rowling said: "we see what we want to see". The problem begins when our expectations stray too far from reality, when what we hope and desire is not met. So it is inevitable that a state marked by frustration, anger and / or discouragement will ensue.
The different types of expectations
Expectations are nothing more than hypotheses we make for the future, anticipations of what might happen based on a series of subjective and objective aspects. The problem is that subjective aspects often tilt the balance too much and our expectations become unrealistic or even irrational.
On the contrary, being able to understand the different types of expectations we have will allow us to level them, so that they are more in line with reality. This does not mean resigning or giving up dreaming, but simply keeping our feet on the ground, to avoid a painful fall that causes us deep and difficult wounds.
1. Predictive expectations
When we have these kinds of expectations, we think we know what will happen during our experiences, for example if we go on a date or a job interview, we imagine what will happen during the meeting. They are, therefore, the recreation of a future experience in our mind, waiting for it to happen that way and not another.
Generally these expectations are based on our previous experiences or the experiences of close people. If a colleague has always been nice to us, we expect him to do us the favor we ask him. But they also involve an expectation of our mood, imagining how happy or sad we will feel in a given situation.
2. Regulatory expectations
This kind of expectation is based on what we take as the norm. We all know and share certain social values and norms, so we develop a set of expectations based on them. We hope, for example, that a person does not throw his cigarette butt on the ground or that a public official acts kindly to us to help us solve the problem.
These expectations refer to a basic standard of behavior that we expect of others in different social situations. We don't expect anyone to hit us on the street for no reason because there are some rules that allow us to guess how others will behave.
3. Deserved expectations
This type of expectation is perhaps the most subjective of all because it is based on what we believe we deserve. For example, if we believe we are the best employee in the company, we hope that the next promotion is ours. It is therefore an expectation based on our idea of justice.
We believe we are worthy of something, whether for our performance, quality or ability. And we assume that something has to happen just because we believe it is right or that we are worthy of it. It is the feeling of having a right to it, above the rest, because in a certain way we have earned it.
The problem is that sometimes our expectations are irrational, especially because we don't take into account the expectations, wants and needs of others. And also because we don't include the unpredictability of the world and uncertainty in the equation. As a result, we feel indignant or saddened when those expectations we have carefully nurtured have fallen unheard.
The secret? Differentiate anticipation from desire
Our mental balance will benefit if instead of continuing to feed unreal expectations, we are able to differentiate anticipation from desire. The desire for something to happen - or not - often has a deeply subjective basis. We want to avoid anything that displeases us or worries us while we prefer what makes us feel good. It's normal. But feeding expectations solely on the basis of these states of repulsion or attraction will further distance us from reality, condemning us to frustration.
Anticipating, on the contrary, is positive and even necessary. Anticipation is fueled by our experiences, but it is also a reasoned process in which we take the opposite factors into account. Anticipating what might happen can help us prepare in advance so that we can avoid problems and conflicts.
We just need to make sure that this anticipation comes from a thoughtful analysis of the situation. Desire will also influence, decisively. But it's only one factor in the equation, and often it's not even the most important. So the next time we think we deserve something, that people should behave a certain way, or that things will turn out the way we imagine, we should pause for a second to think about whether our expectations aren't leading us down the wrong path.