Just like everyone else, we all have had times (and areas) in our lives where we have experienced a lot of disappointment. That disappointment does not lead to a positive feeling. Instead it leads to sadness, jealousy, anger, or a myriad of other bad emotions. In the moment, the experience makes us feel like a victim of some act or lack there of. Sometimes our day is ruined or maybe just a specific event. Either way, there were lingering negative effects that occurred from this disappointment.
Although it is impossible to avoid all disappointments in life, there are ways to decrease the amount of disappointment you experience. The #1 way being to lower your expectations. Now, before I go any further down this path, let me clarify that I am saying to lower your expectations, not your standards. Expectations and standards are two different things. Expectations are what you expect out of life, situations, other people, etc. Standards are the minimum you are willing to accept from life, situations, and other people, etc. Standards are very important as they give us a baseline for our relationships, career goals, and life in general. Expectations, however, are what we “think” other things in our life should fulfill. Expectations, more often than not, exceed our standards and are the “above average” standards we have for things.
Having unrealistic expectations typically has a negative impact on relationships as well as your own personal happiness. By expecting too much of others or things in life, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and the bad feelings that accompany it. I personally struggle with expectations, I think a little more than others. I am, by nature, a hopeless romantic, a tragic soul, a glass full of emotion – whatever you want to call it. I tend to look at life in a sometimes idealistic manner, which results in the shadows of those ideals influencing my expectations of things around me. We have all been guilty of this at times, but do we understand how much it affects our happiness?
Let’s take for an example, expecting our partner to do something. Maybe I expect my partner to bring me flowers every once in a while or just some thoughtful gesture on occasion. When I don’t get this thoughtful gesture for a few months I start to feel disappointed. Maybe I begin to have feelings that he doesn’t love me as much as he used to. Or maybe I feel like he is being selfish and not thinking of me. Either way, the result is me feeling disappointed and whatever emotions go along with that.
Those feelings of disappointment affect my relationship, my own personal happiness, and maybe even other things in my life. I may come off more negative towards others or feel insecure about my relationship. Either way, nothing good is coming from this disappointment. The big question is – are flowers or a thoughtful gesture a standard I have or is it just an expectation I have set because I do those things? Another question – is my partner truly not doing anything thoughtful or is my partner just not doing thoughtful things that I expect?
Expectations can become a very slippery slope. The beginning to identifying unrealistic expectations and avoiding the negativity that follows is to truly understand your standards vs your expectations. Whatever the situation is that continues to make you feel disappointed, sit down and talk it out with yourself. What are your standards for this situation? Maybe you feel disappointed by friends constantly because they don’t compliment you enough, but you compliment them all the time. You value compliments which is why you make an effort to give them to others. Do you think if they were true friends that they would compliment you? Or are you expecting them to value compliments the way you do? Maybe they are awesome friends and always there when you need to vent or a shoulder to cry on. That is a standard to have for a friend, but silly expectations that leave you feeling crappy are pointless.
Once you have identified your unrealistic expectations, it is important to determine where they are coming from. Why do you feel that your friends should compliment you? Maybe you are a little insecure and you are looking to others to give you a bit of a boost. But is that their problem? No, it’s not. And are compliments from other people truly going to change how you feel about yourself? I bet not.
The key to curbing expectations is to first identify that they exist, determine the cause of them, and then tackle the real problem. If you are insecure, figure out why you are. Do you feel you are a little overweight? Go to the gym and diet. Do you feel like all your friends have better fashion sense? Ask them to go shopping with you and to suggest new outfits for you to try on. Find a fix to the real problem so you can lower your expectations and stop feeling disappointed!
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