3 Ways to Let Go of Unrealistic Expectations

Last week, we looked at preparing for times of uncertainty, so it is only fitting to explore the topic of expectations this week – which is closely tied to the loss of control and anxiety we experience when we’re faced with the unexpected.

So, what is an “expectation”?

As it relates to uncertainty, an expectation is what we consider most likely to happen. Therefore, an expectation—which is a belief centered on the future, may or may not be realistic.

Oftentimes, our expectations stem from past experiences. So, for example, if we’ve experienced a bad relationship and were treated poorly, we may have an expectation that we’ll experience the same form of treatment in all relationships that follow. Unfortunately, what ends up taking place if we don’t heal or try to address the previous issue, is we internalize that experience and enter into our new relationships with negative expectations rooted in poor past bonds.

While being mindful that we don’t casually dismiss our feelings and experiences, we also have to be able to distinguish the difference between whether our expectations are sound or whether they’re tainted or rooted in experiences or beliefs of the past that have harmed or left us feeling completely vulnerable.

Our expectations often lead us to predict future outcomes. As a way to protect ourselves or maintain self-assurance, we hold onto unwarranted expectations that strip us of the ability to simply experience life and accept that at times our expectations will not always be met.

As comfortable as it can be to have set expectations and as challenging as it is to let them go, it may be just what we need to eliminate feelings such as fear, anxiety, and disappointment that are connected to our expectations. Understanding how to navigate through this process is key!

Here are 3 ways to approach the expectations we hold:

1. Set your expectation but be okay with knowing that it may not be met.

2. Change your perspective on how you view “negative” outcomes. An example of this is choosing to view an unmet expectation as a sign that things were meant to go in another direction or lead to a better opportunity.

3. Assess whether your expectations are realistic or if you need to step back and reconsider. Sometimes, being honest and transparent about the expectations you set allows you to have a better judgment regarding whether your projections are realistic.

Are you aware of the ways past experiences have shaped your expectations? Take note of them and observe if they’re still impacting your current experiences.

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