These and other expectations are part of our daily life. Many times we are not even aware of it, but they are there, always lurking with their load of illusion and fiction. However, what happens when expectations are thwarted, when the person does not behave as expected? The most common attitude is to react negatively, sadden or angry.
Can expectations be positive?
Buddhist philosophy refers to the "waiting mind" to refer to those who simply expect something, but do nothing to achieve it. From this point of view, expectations would be as useless as an Indian dance to attract rain. In reality, they would be counterproductive, because when they don't materialize they only generate pain, sadness and anger.
In fact, expectations are nothing more than assumptions about the future, about the likelihood of something happening. This is an anticipation based on some traces that we have extracted from reality. In this sense, expectations are not harmful in themselves, as they help us to form a picture of what the future might bring.
However, the problem is that in everyday life we do not behave like mathematicians but we assume many of our expectations as being absolute truths, as if they were to be realized with certainty. When we realize that it is simply probabilities, when these are not satisfied we feel frustrated.
For this reason, Buddhism places so much emphasis on learning to master our expectations, truly opening up to the world and not anticipating it in an "expected way" because we would then adopt an unrealistic attitude that would harm us over time.
The benefits of learning to master your expectations1. Take responsibility for your decisions. Expectations are not historical facts they are simple probabilities, understanding this difference, which is not just terminological, will allow us to take control of our life. This means that if you want something to happen, you should take a proactive attitude and take the necessary steps to make this wish come true, do not wait patiently for others to guess what you want or expect from them.
Paradoxically, waiting less and acting more allows us to regain control, but without feeling overwhelmed, as it implies greater confidence in knowing ourselves and in our potential. People who don't sit around waiting for others to come and meet their expectations, but fight for what they want, don't take on the role of victims or martyrs, but make things happen.
2. Separate desires from duties. Most of the time we live with the autopilot engaged, assuming the attitude of the sheep; that is, simply devote ourselves to carrying out the tasks entrusted to us. However, duties are nothing more than expectations imposed on us by others, by the group or by society.
When we don't do our duties, we feel guilty. But if we respect them, we expect a reward and when it doesn't come, we get angry. In one way or another, we always feel like a loser because we are immersed in a perennial negative emotional state. However, getting rid of our expectations also means understanding that we need to meet the expectations of others. And it is a liberating process through which you will come into contact with your truest desires and your passions, which are two key ingredients to achieve what you aim for in life.
3. Enjoy your present. Expectations are made up of residues from the past that went into making the prediction, and wishes for the future, but the truth is that they don't even contain a hint of our present, which is all we really have. Expectations without actions only serve to lock us in the trap of the future, limiting us to the role of the chess player who sits waiting for his opponent to move, while all possible counterattack moves go through his mind. Except that in life, staying too long in the role of the chess player causes us to lose our present.
Furthermore, expectations often turn into lenses that prevent us from seeing the world clearly. While expecting something unrealistic, opportunities are often lost, like in a station perpetually waiting for a train that never arrives while others around us leave for their destination. On the contrary, when expectations are realistic, we are able to live our present intensely by taking advantage of the opportunities it offers us.