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Managing Expectations

We all have expectations in our lives: work, relationships, what we want out of life and who we want to become, what we expect of our children, their schools and other institutions, even what we expect from our governments. One key to happiness lies within the management of the expectation of people, circumstances and events. Often, we tend to believe that the way we treat others will be the way we are treated in return. However, this is seldom the case. If we do not have expectations, we can never be disappointed. Even though most of us know that, we still fall short.

We need to make sure we enter into relationships or tackle a situation with the knowledge of what we expect of ourselves, setting an intention that is clear and realistic. For instance, if we want to find people who appreciate what we do for them and who will reciprocate these actions, we would be wise to start a relationship with someone who has as big a heart as we do. When we find that we are going out of our way much more than the people that surround us, it may be time to find a new group of friends. If we don’t, we may feel as if we are being taken advantage of or are being short-changed. But the main point is the initial intention we set for ourselves: do we do something for someone so we get something back in return? Or is our intention to do the deed because we want to?

Unrealistic expectations will, can, and most often do lead to disappointment. Too many people are obsessed with finding the perfect career, the perfect spouse, even the perfect holiday and as a result become increasingly frustrated when this does not pan out. Another unfortunate pitfall of having high expectations in certain circumstances is that we prevent ourselves from enjoying the relation or experience altogether.

One of the biggest challenges we face in life is learning to accept people for who they truly are. Once we realise that our expectations cannot change people, we have the freedom to choose to have them in our lives or not. When we have unrealistic notions for people, we place ourselves at a high risk of getting disappointed and hurt. Maybe someone did let us down in certain aspects, but isn’t it inherently unfair to have that person on such a pedestal in the first place? Having realistic expectations will allow us to accept the flaws of people and situations.

We would be wise to learn how to take responsibility for our own decisions and actions before we project our wishes onto others. By maintaining an awareness of our own abilities and what we hope to get out of life, we become capable of accepting it – and the people and events within it - as it unfolds.

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