The mind can be a marvelous thing. Us humans are able to use it in all kinds of ways – from imagining and planning to looking forward to things happening in the future and predicting what might happen.
Sounds great, right? Except there’s just one teeny, tiny problem.
When it comes to making predictions, we’re very often wrong. These day-to-day predictions form our expectations – the things we imagine are going to happen.
Is having expectations in life a bad thing? Not necessarily. Let’s start by digging a little deeper into how they affect us and how we can learn to let go of expectations that don’t serve us well.
What are Expectations?
Expectations are a product of our imaginations. It’s believing that something is going to happen one way, only to find that it doesn’t always turn out the way we wanted. That’s when disappointment and resentment occur and drive us to feel a certain way about a situation or towards others. Human beings naturally feel that their fulfilled expectations will bring them happiness.
How Can Expectations Affect the Minimalist Lifestyle?
If you’ve decided to adopt the minimalist lifestyle, chances are you’re working on trying to live with intention. From your personal possessions to the people you choose to build bonds with, it’s vital to save our energy for the things, people and plans that are most important to us.
So, what happens when our plans don’t go, well, quite to plan? Sometimes we set our expectations high. You might have mapped out the perfect weekend with your partner – think a leisurely Saturday morning breakfast, spending quality time with close friends, then visiting your favorite family attraction with the kids and finishing off with a delightful Sunday lunch.
Imagine having all of these wonderful plans, then waking up to find that one of the kids is unwell or the car suddenly breaks down?
Plans can be scuppered pretty quickly when things don’t go our way. And spending our precious weekend hours nursing a sick child or making a dent in our bank balance can feel pretty devastating at the time.
How Do You Get Rid of Unrealistic Expectations?
Change those unrealistic objectives into realistic ones by choosing to set yourself achievable goals and objectives.
When it comes to work or chores, setting yourself impossible objectives is a bad idea all-round. After all, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure and disappointment in equal measures.
So what should you do differently? Why not write a tick-list of the things you know you can do? Instead of saying you’re going to clean the entire house today, aim to spend three hours cleaning. And when the timer’s up – stop! Doing this means you’ll have far more chance of actually ticking that job off your to-do list.
How to Let Go of Expectations of Others
We’ve talked about the expectations we place on ourselves, but what about expectations of others?
How many times have you judged someone else? Be honest, we’re all friends here. We’ve all done it, whether we’ve thought of someone negatively, criticized the way they did something or wondering why they didn’t react to something in the same way we did.
Well, we’re all different. We don’t all think the same – after all, the world would be a pretty dull place if we did. Put it this way – if your favorite coffee shop closes down but your husband hates coffee, he’s not going to be as disappointed as you are. Simplistic, we know, but it helps to put this concept into perspective.
No matter how much we try to deny it, we all have ulterior motives. We’re wired to want things to go our way – it all goes back to the idea of expectations. If someone’s thoughts or ideas don’t match ours, it’s all too easy to let judgmental thoughts creep into our minds.
Here are some ideas on how to let go of expectations of others:
Discover your motivation. Figure out the reasons behind your action. If you are honest and true to yourself, you’re already past the first hurdle.
Consider your ideal outcome – then think about the polar opposite – what would be the absolute worst outcome? Does it really matter if this is the outcome?
Form a plan B. Try to have an alternative or second choice option. This will help you to move on if you’re not able to achieve the gold standard outcome.
Say what you mean. Words can be powerful, so choose them carefully and ensure they come from the heart.
Realize nobody’s perfect – not even you. Even with the very best intentions, sometimes you’ll find yourself feeling annoyed with somebody. That’s OK, we’re all human, so don’t give yourself too much of a hard time. Just take time to reflect and work out what you could do differently in the future. And if somebody else is annoyed with you? Cut them slack – they’re only human, too.
Let go. Forget. Say what you need to say, then move on. Don’t wait for other people to give feedback or validate your words. If you are speaking from the heart, you don’t need it.
How to Let Go of Expectations in Life
1. Acknowledge your disappointment
If you’re disappointed, allow yourself to be disappointed – without trying to blame anyone else for the way you’re feeling. Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, it won’t make you feel any less disappointed, but hopefully, it will allow you to see the bigger picture, acknowledge the way you’re feeling and move on. Besides, there will be another time to do all the things you were planning to do.
2. Think about things differently
When our plans go awry, we often tend to think about what we’re missing out on. But negative thoughts like this can be a fast-track to feeling disappointed or even irritated.
This is where you need to take control and choose to think about things differently. Try to view setbacks with optimism, rather than pessimism – focus on the things you are doing and enjoying, rather than the things you feel like you’re missing out on.
3. Work out what you want
Guess what? Our friends, family and partners are not mind-readers. We know, it’s a shocker, right?! Sometimes, you have to communicate what you want with the people you love, rather than just expecting them to know.
So, if you want a Friday night out on the tiles with friends, make it happen. Tell your other half they need to be around to watch the kids. Book the following Monday off in case you’re feeling a little worse for wear. Do whatever you need to do to make it happen – contact your friends, arrange childcare, buy a new outfit… but most importantly, remember to let your hair down and have fun.
4. Remember, only you can choose how you react to situations
While you can’t take complete control of what happens in your life, you can choose and control the way you react.
Next time things don’t go your way, consider making an active choice to let go and move on – instead of wasting time and energy dwelling on your disappointment.
Are you guilty of setting yourself unrealistic expectations? Do you have some ideas on how you might do things differently in the future? Let us know in the comments!