By: Dr. Cassandra Clarke-Williams
Relationships can be rough both socially and intimately. Relationships sit at the center of survival, yet it is the hardest thing to master. My nephew is in a romantic relationship that doesn’t sound healthy for him. It appears that he wants something from his mate that she can’t offer and although she is failing to meet his needs, he is still holding on. Usually in relationships, couples, friends, associates, co-workers, family and etc…have expectations from one another that each can’t always fulfill. When those expectations are not filled, the one with the expectation becomes disappointed. At times, the person that is supposed to be living up to this expectation is not even aware that this expectation has been placed on them. Why do people demand wanting more than people can really give them. My son has an unrealistic expectation that I will always know whatever information he is seeking and when I don’t know or don’t give what he felt I should have given to the situation, he becomes upset. He knows that his expectations are unrealistic, but yet has not diminished this notion.
Expectations formulate from a thought or a belief that we have even though it may not really happen. Having expectations that are too high can create stress, low-self esteem, and anxiety. Tony Robbins says not to have expectations of others because it leads to disappointment. At the end of the day, expectations that are unrealistic and too high lead to unhappiness and may require some professional help. It also ruins relationships.
According to Dr. Alex Lickerman, people’s expectations of their experiences can heighten how they perceive the experience. Dr. Lickerman stated that there are four scenarios that can happen regarding experiences and expectations. Where do you fall in this matrix based on your expectations and experiences?
1) low expectations and a poor experience: not really disappointed because didn’t have any anticipations.
2) low expectations and good experience: turned out better than anticipated.
3) high expectations and good experience: turned out as you hoped.
4) high expectations and poor experience: did not turn out as you hoped and led to disappointment.
Now that you have assessed where you fall on this spectrum, if you find yourself on the high expectation side but getting a poor experience, you might want to adjust your expectation or even taking a look into what is happening for that you are not getting the hoped for outcome. If you are on the low expectation side but getting a poor experience, this too might be an issue. You might need to boost your expectations some. It could be that something else may be going on for you in this area.
Ask yourself these questions:
1) Stop for a few minutes! Think about what is within your control and what is out of your control?
2) Why are these expectations so important?
3) What need do you feel is not being met or met through these expectations?
4) What would not letting go of these unrealistic expectations do or cause in your life that is so detrimental?
5) How did these unrealistic expectations formulate in the first place?
Lickerman, A. (2010). The Danger of having unrealistic expectations: how what we expect determines what we experience.