Expectation is a strong belief that something will happen or be the case.
I have a few rules that I live by and one is centered around expectations.
The rule is: Expectation leads to disappointment.
I genuinely believe that one of the biggest flaws we have as humans is that we lack awareness, and fail to realise that every single one of us has a different perception of life.
It sounds so obvious doesnt it? But it’s tends to be the most basic things that we seem to forget.
Our unique experience means that we all think differently. But the flaw lies in expecting others to think as we do, and that cannot be the case.
Yes, people can share similar thoughts, beliefs and opinons as you, but to think that they are viewing life through the same lens, is an illusion. We are all living within our own individual frame of reference, which means no two people can experience life in exactly the same way.
When we look at groups of people, be it based on their ethnicity, race, gender, religion, sexuality, disability, culture etc these categories are extremely broad and fail to capture individual differences.
I was raised with my twin sister in the same household, we went to the same primary and secondary school and have the same group of friends yet we couldn’t have experienced life more differently. Yes, a number of factors have influenced how we have become who we are e.g. genetics, biology, temprament, personality and many environmental influences but I want to highlight that even us born only 10 minutes apart could turn out to be pretty different humans with our own view of the world. I acknowledge that we are Dizygotic (DZ two separate eggs) but even Monozygotic Twins (MZ, when one egg divides into two) who are assumed to be genetically identical still do not think the same.
So how do we expect Sally down the street to think how we think?
Expecting others to think like you is a dangerous game because you cannot control what others do. This is probably the reason why we have all found ourselves in difficulty be it in the workplace, relationships, education and in life in general.
Dissapointment occurs when your expecations did not align with your reality.
My perception of the world has been created by the experiences I’ve personally had. And to re-iterate no two people experience the world in the same way.
What are some of the expectations we tend to have?
- Someone to understand exactly how you’re feeling
- For others to communicate in the way you do
- For others to express their love in the same way that you do
- For others to understand why you behave the way that you do
- To have the ability to read people’s minds or vice versa
I could go on, but the point is that we should take a minute to think about the circumstances that has led said person to be who they are.
It’s about empathy and considering the lens this person could be looking through. When we acknowledge that each of us have our own version of reality, and that reality is nothing more than our perception of the situation, we can be more gracious towards one another.
I remind myelf by thinking, this individual cannot think how I think, nor can they experience how I experience, so try not to get rattled and let it be.
With that said, if you do find yourself in a heated argument, pause and think about why this person thinks the way they do and try to meet them where they’re at. It’s not even about being the bigger person here, it’s just about how you feel in that moment at the end of the day, only you are experiencing that stress, frustation and tension, but you can choose not to.
These days, I rarely, if ever argue because I try to remember that others don’t share my reality.
We could all develop our empathy, so I’ll leave you with a few suggestions on how to do just that:
- Acknowledge that expectations lead to dissapoint
- Remember that we all have our own unique frame of reference
- Understand that no two people can experience life in the same way
- Realise that someones reality is the product of their experience
- And their past experiences shape their current perceptions
- Listen to understand and not to respond
As a final takeaway I would like you to go into a situation and expect nothing at all and just see what happens.