A man decided to plan a wonderful surprise for his wife on the day of her birthday. He planned everything he knew she would love. He prepared her favourite meal, dimmed the lights, lighted scented candles, and played the music she liked.
And the woman came home. When she walked in she said, “Ugh. I’ve had a horrible day. I’m not even hungry. I’m going to take a bath.” The man got angry. Is this the appreciation he was supposed to get after working so hard? How dare she?
How did the wife react? She in turn was shocked and upset that he was angry with her simply because she wanted to take a bath at the end of a long day.
There is a valuable lesson to be learnt in this story. The man had expectations of his wife. A careful look at expectations reveals that they are nothing more than our best guesses, our deeply held opinions mixed up with hope – a big dash of hope. The man later realized that the failure of his wife to live up to his expectation was not the fault of his wife. The expectations were his and his wife had no obligation to fulfill them.
I believe you have had a similar experience to that of the man as far as expectations are concerned. I guess you did not know that expectations were the culprit. It is therefore wise to manage your expectations so that you are not affected by their consequences. When you have unrealistic expectations of other people, you put yourself at risk for getting hurt, disappointed, and even depressed. When that happens, it is easy for you to blame them and say that they let you down. But think again. Did you not let yourself down by having unrealistic expectations at the core of which are your strongly held assumptions? And with these assumptions you conjectured about what the future might hold for you.
Your expectation is the factor that determines the degree of your satisfaction with your relationships whether it is family, friends, or even government. It is also the factor that most influences how you check whether your relationship with someone is good or bad, worthwhile or a waste of time, healthy or unhealthy.
People’s poorly informed and therefore unrealistic expectations fuel their anger and discontent. Before you get hurt again, sit down quietly for a while and ask yourself what you expect. Know whether your expectations are realistic and whether you need more information before you get too attached to your ideas about how you think things should be. This is an attempt to not mistaking what you want for what you are actually going to get.