I find an unnatural calm and mental clarity in having low expectations. This applies to people, experiences, and life in general. When you have low expectations, you’re less likely to feel disappointed, angry, or defeated. You are also more likely to be pleasantly surprised if and when things actually do go your way. There’s also a certain level of self-acceptance and internal motivation found in having low expectations.
Here are a few reasons why everyone should lower their expectations and start expecting the shit end of the stick in life.
1. Avoid Negative Feelings
Hurt. Disappointment. Anger. Frustration. Sadness.
These are all feelings associated with having high expectations that don’t generate the result you’d hoped for. This can be expectations over someone’s actions or expectations about how a specific event or moment will unfold. When you create such an intense build-up and such high hopes, you’re only making the fall from grace that much farther. And things that fall from high places hurt. A lot. Don’t place so much weight or importance on the way someone will react to something you’ve done or said. Don’t expect your boyfriend to send you flowers on Valentine’s Day or plan you a surprise birthday party. If he does, awesome! Then you get be pleasantly surprised instead of feeling hurt or slighted.
2. Break from the Mob Mentality
People inherently want to feel part of something. It’s what creates the mob mentality. Expectations can sometimes morph into peer pressure. The expectations that others place on you to act, look, or behave a certain way can dictate your behavior. So much so, that it could eventually change who you are as a person. If we try to meet these expectations and fail, we feel bad about ourselves. If we do choose to meet these expectations placed on us by others, we’re often expecting acknowledgment or at least a greater sense of accomplishment. And what happens when you don’t? You’re left feeling cheated. Wronged. And kind of dumb for not following your instincts or doing what you wanted instead of what you felt you should. Do your own thing and that way, if things go awry, you only have yourself to blame.
3. Make More Clear and Purposeful Decisions
If you’re making decisions based on your expectations of others, then you’re opening yourself up to a world of disappointment. You’re also running the risk of being coined a martyr and no one likes a martyr. Don’t donate to a charity, volunteer for environmental cleanup or participate in any other community service projects if you’re simply looking for a pat on the back or a thank you. Do it because it feels good and you want to help others. If you act based on the expectation that you’ll receive praise for your actions, not only are you doing it for the wrong reason, but you may start making decisions to get a reaction, not because you actually want to do them. No outside source can provide you the internal gratitude you crave so don’t expect it to. Look inside yourself. At your core beliefs, values, and integrity. Those are the things that should be guiding your decisions.
4. Skip the Pity Party
High expectations and disappointing results can leave you feeling pretty sorry for yourself. You may even find yourself saying things like, “Why me?” or “I just don’t understand why nothing ever goes my way”. Not only are these negative, unproductive thoughts, but if you start saying them out loud to others, they can become annoying AF. People don’t want to hear you complaining or your “whoa is me” stories. You’re in control of your actions. No one is forcing you to do anything. So don’t try blaming lackluster results on anyone but yourself. If you’re making decisions based on your wants and desires and not expectations placed on you by others, then you should feel peace and comfort in whatever the results are. Granted, you may not like the results every time, but at least you made an informed decision all on your own.
5. Live in the Moment
Expectations take away from that feeling of living in the moment. Of being present to experience what’s happening now. Expectations cause forward thinking. They also inhibit you from being spontaneous because you’re too worried about the expected reaction your decision will elicit. Forget about what’s going to happen next and make a decision based on the here and now.
When you let go of expectations of both others and yourself, you live a freer and stress-free life. Do for you. Don’t expect praise or flowers. When you stop expecting, you may just start getting!