Expectations are one of our biggest problems, even if we rarely realize them. They arise when we stop living in the real world and start living in the world we have built in our mind, when we fail to face reality as it is and begin to react the way we would like the world to be. Therefore, expectations can make us tremendously unhappy.
The 3 monsters that lead us to neurosis
Albert Ellis, creator of the Rational Emotional Therapy, said that there are three monsters that prevent us from moving forward and being happy. These are unreasonable expectations that lead us to function in "neurotic mode" and are typical of addicts to unhappiness.
1. I have to do it right
This expectation is aimed at ourselves, it is an order to our ego and, in some way, it has been instilled in us by society. In fact, from an early age, since we started going to school, the message is transmitted to us that we are not worth for who we are, but for our successes. Therefore, it is understandable that we have high expectations of our commitment.
The problem is that these expectations are often unrealistic and unattainable, as they demand perfection. The person who believes that he must always do well, be successful, be competent and accomplish everything he sets out to do, is simply adding an extra dose of unnecessary stress that will lead to a feeling of failure and frustration at the slightest setback.
In reality, these kinds of expectations do not lead to personal growth, but are the basis for self-denigrating thinking, meaningless self-denial and self-hatred.2. They must treat me well
This expectation is reflected in others, it expresses what we expect from others. Obviously we all want to be treated with respect and fairness, but this is not always the case, and we must be aware and ready to face this reality.
There are many people in the world, all different, and they don't always behave in a friendly or civil manner. But if you expect them to do this and always treat you well, you will get angry whenever someone does not respect their turn in the queue, park badly or raise their voice.
Freeing yourself from these expectations does not mean allowing them to trample your rights, but it will allow you to take enough emotional distance to understand which battles are worthwhile and which are not. When you don't expect anything from anyone they won't be able to disappoint you and, more importantly, every positive gesture will be an incredible gift.
3. The world must be easy
In the Western world the new generations have grown up in a relatively comfortable and safe environment, they were raised under the protective wings of their parents, so it is normal that as they grow up they develop enormous expectations of the world and think that everything should be very easy.
There are people who believe they should roll out a red carpet on the world just for them, who pretend not to get stuck in traffic jams, not have to wait their turn in line and not have to deal with all the little inconveniences of everyday life. These are people who have a very low tolerance for frustration, so any setback that doesn't fit their idealized picture of the world will turn into a problem.
These expectations are not related to the belief in human improvement, hope and positivism, but are based on an unrealistic view of the world, so they can only cause difficulties for those who feed them.
Check your "cabinet of expectations"
Feeding unrealistic expectations that border on the absurd is very easy because, in the end, they make us feel that the world is a safer and more organized place. However, they also prevent us from developing our own set of psychological tools for life. In fact, resilience only develops by falling, taking responsibility for ourselves and getting back up again, this time stronger and wiser.
Therefore, it is advisable that from time to time you check your "cabinet of expectations" and get rid of everything you don't need and take up space unnecessarily. Ask yourself what expectations you have about yourself, others and the world. To what extent are they realistic? Will these expectations help you to be happier and improve your life or, on the contrary, will they make you suffer?
Perhaps, it can all be summed up in one simple sentence: "expect the best, prepare for the worst and be ready to surprise yourself".