THE EFFECTS OF EXPECTATIONS IN LIFE AND IN RELATIONSHIPS
A MAJOR CREATOR OF UNHAPPINESS - NEEDLESSLY!
THE DEFINITIONS, THE EFFECTS
Definition in the dictionary: a looking forward to. (This implies nothing other than anticipation as a positive event and the positive event is not a “must”.)
Definition in life: Something I believe I ‘should’ get and will be unhappy about if I don’t get it. (This is “the set up” for unhappiness.)
“Pain in life comes from unfulfilled desires and expectations.”
Quote on Buddhism from Dennis Prager
Unhappiness is created from the thought of disappointment at not having something and how hurtful that is (or is expected to be).
Expectations are a set up for disappointment as they create the opportunity to focus on what we are missing or don’t have. (And those who use this dysfunctional system don’t realize that the “payoff” of the system is not worth the great costs.)
Gratitude is looking at what we do have – which is plenty immense, if we realize it. If we realize how this works, and then employ it effectively, we need never be unhappy. (See Gratitude , to get a quick understanding of how this works.)
Gratitude is a Nike thing. Just Do It - and you will have happiness be in your life.
Which path do you choose? In your life? In your relationship?
The guaranteed happiness one or the guaranteed unhappiness one?
EXPECTATIONS MORPHED INTO “MUSTS”
Expectations become “musts”, something, as they say in the wisdom of Buddhism (among others), that one “must” have to be happy or at least not unhappy.
But, we have no control over outcomes. So, if we are dependent on an outcome happening we are giving away our control over our own happiness.
Dependency is a child thing. ‘I’ll be happy no matter what’ is an adult decision.
For instance, a woman who “expects” her man to be romantic, to cherish her, and to measure up to unrealistic standards is bound to be unhappy and “let down”, for all of that has virtually no possibility of occurring. Like Jane, our case in depth, it can lead to extreme unhappiness and withdrawal of love from the relationship and even a punishing of the (imperfect) ‘perpetrator’!
Her focus became so much a matter of what is missing that she missed what she had with David. She missed the appreciation and gratitude she could have had with David, who tried hard to please her in an impossible and never to occur pre-ordained set up.
If she would have listened to the counselor about setting a standard of 80% as the success measure and also about setting achievable, non-global standards and asking for specific actions, then the relationship would have succeeded. But, no, she didn’t, and then she set about the process she learned somewhere in childhood, the process of “punishing” David for his non-compliance and untrustworthiness.
IT’S NOT ABOUT THE OUTCOME
Life and/or relationships should never be about expectations or the outcome but about who one is being and who one is becoming, which we can control (and which ultimately increases the odds of achieving many more successful outcomes - ironically after giving up having to have them to be happy).
Trainings in the area of human development and happiness emphasize this. For instance, Landmark (the biggest worldwide and accepted as being highly beneficial by more people than any other) emphasizes the importance of not making people or situations wrong and of giving those up and concentrating on who one is “being”. See their video vignettes on their website to get an idea of what is true. www.landmarkeducation.com.
A funny thing about relationships: the closer they are, the greater the possibility of unhappiness about them!!! Ironic!!! Backwards!!! The intimate relationship has the most expectations for those who are unaware and, accordingly, the greatest failure rate. Often, such as with Jane, people are quite good at treating friends well and cultivating those friendships while forgiving many things, but that same person will be unforgiving and punishing of the “intimate enemy” where all those (unreasonable) expectations are much, much higher!
An enemy, in this case, is someone who harms us (or at least ‘seen as’ doing that). In this case, it is in the childish mind of an adult, who “deserves” to be treated this way or that and to have a partner who lives up to the standards set. Alison Armstrong in her Understanding Women DVD hour #2 cautions against making the partner the adversary for not fulfilling that which is built into our caveperson instincts. She asks that we go to our higher mind, where gratitude is practiced and cooperation is chosen. And she asks us to realize that a lot of those instincts are outdated and inappropriate (as we no longer have tigers to defend ourselves against). Apparently not getting the point, after watching it, Jane launched into all the grievances and ways David has let her down – creating him as the adversary (which, except in extreme cases, is a childish way of viewing things).
OUR MISPERCEIVED ‘NEEDS’
The truth is that if we didn’t believe we needed umpteen millions of things to be happy, we would be happy. Not being happy comes from setting unreasonable standards and expectations.
If a martian come down from outer space and was from a race of more highly evolved beings, he would see the system that was set up for discontentment (the idea we had to have so much to be happy) and would wonder why, with plenty to eat and lots of things to do and the opportunity to earn enough money and to love and grow, we were so driven and discontent.
THE FORMULA THAT WORKS
Formula for happiness in self and for happiness in a relationship:
↓ Focus on what’s not there (what’s wrong)
↑ Focus on what is there (gratitude, what’s right about one’s world and/or relationship)
Learning how to do this in the area of expectations is a piece of the whole on (re)forming a philosophy of life that works for much, much greater happiness.
THE NEXT STEP IS COMPLETING WHAT IS NEEDED TO LIVE THIS WAY
Having read this, you probably get the idea, but you probably need to learn more and you probably need to be more convinced that it is achievable (which it absolutely is!). Hopefully, you’re convinced enough to take the next step. As you take each step, the value of doing this becomes more and more apparent and the feasibility of doing this becomes more apparent.
IF PEOPLE SAW THE ACTUAL VALUE OF THIS,
THIS WOULD BE THE MOST SOUGHT AFTER THING ON EARTH.
We are not asking you here to adopt everything required to be a Buddhist monk. We do not believe that the extremes are necessary here and we limit the discussions to what is practical and ‘doable’.
This learning and installing this in life aren’t done by most people because they don’t understand the impact nor that the effort to implement this is dramatically smaller than the impact nor that it is doable. So, what we’d ask is that you at least start the process.
If you want to learn more about how to have relationships work better, start this process, even if you think it has nothing to do with relationships (it has everything to do about relationships, for your viewpoint and philosophy are what determine the quality of the relationship!). If you want to learn about effectiveness in life, learn about creating a much better life philosophy. If you want to be much happier, learn about this.
It’s your choice. We recommend that you commit to going forward.
Start with the commitment and then consider reading, under Philosophy, the piece called: The Pieces And The Why Of (Re)Forming A Philosophy Of Life. (If you’re reading this on the computer, this is a direct link.)
From this reading, I
___ Am not convinced it is worth the time
___ Am convinced enough to begin the process to see if it has as much value as claimed.
___ Commit to fully develop my life philosophy to serve me at the highest level in life.
____ I will follow the learning plan or an effective revision of it.
Declared this _____day of _______________, in the year ____________.