Are your expectations keeping you unhappy?

I recently heard someone saying that “pain exist between reality and expectation”, making us unhappy in the present moment.

This posed a few questions for me:

  • I had grown up to believe that it is good to set high expectations. Otherwise, how would I grow and improve myself?
  • what about the “no pain no gain” theory?
  • Is it not through the discomfort we feel now that we make changes to have a different future?

Then it occurred to me that there is difference between expectations of what is now versus what we hold up as a future vision.

The gap between expectations of now and our present reality causes us more pain than the reality itself.

When things don’t happen as we want them to, we generally tend to see it as failure. Then, we blame ourselves, or blame others, and sometimes we even project our thoughts to some future “failure”. So now what is our state of mind? Not only are we unhappy with the outcome, we are unhappy with ourselves, our friends, co-workers, family members and paralysed with a fear of some future event that hasn’t even happened.

So how can we reduce the unhappiness and increase the chances of learning and growing?

Well, I know it is not easy, it takes practice, so here are some tips I have used:

  • Stop and become the observer – this allows you take a step back and see the event more clearly
  • Accept and make peace with the “now” – see and feel what is happening, including the feelings of disappointment
  • Let go of the desire to blame, self-criticise or change the past
  • Think of possible ways forward – what would you do differently, what could get in your way, how do your values come into play
  • Choose the way you want to be and feel
  • Take action accordingly

If you have tried these and want to share the results with me or have thoughts on this please contact me.