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We create our own heartbreaks through expectations

The moment we wake up in the morning, we turn in our expectation mode. We are always in the state of assuming and expecting. We expect our day to go well. We expect people to behave nicely to us. We even change our behaviour, in turn, to live up to the expectations of our loved ones, our higher officials. We sleep at night with many plans for the next day, with an expectation that we would wake up the next day.

It has become a common thing now. Evening having a bucket is also a kind of having expectations. We expect to do achieve all that is there in our bucket list. Even for examinations, we study and expect scores according to our efforts or sometimes, if we are greedy, we expect more marks than what we deserve. See, expectations are everywhere.

In every bond, every relationship, due to the closeness and understanding, we unconsciously create a platform for expectations. For example, if you are friends with someone for like many years, you expect that person to know you in and out, and behave accordingly. When you feel your friend has not known you properly or is not meeting your expectations, you get resentful and disappointed. See, no one can escape from expectations. It is very much needed for ourselves, for our lives and for others.


Expectations are basically our presumptions. It convinces us into a belief that whatever we feel is true thereby making us deaf to hear other person's side of the story.

How do expectations cause misunderstandings and problems?

It becomes a problem when we put expectations on someone without even them knowing about it. Then, when he/she fails to meet our expectations, we become indignant and hurt. We end put with disappointments and thus, a gap gets created in our bond.


Let's say, you are a coffee lover. You prefer drinking coffee to make you feel better. It would sound stupid when all you do is just think about coffee and get mad when coffee doesn't come to you, right? Why? Because thinking alone won't do anything, we know it too. But even after knowing this, I wonder why we still think that merely expecting others to behave a certain way, will make them behave that way? We even get angry when people fail to meet our expectations.


Ever heard of the placebo effect?

It is when a patient with an extreme health condition is asked to eat a tablet saying that is very powerful and has a ninety-nine per cent success rate. The patient will have it regularly with a firm belief in that tablet. At the end of the prescribed time, the patient will get into a good health condition. What really the patient had was just vitamin tablets which had nothing to do with the health condition. This effect is known as placebo and the opposite of it is called the nocebo effect.

What does it have to do with expectations and negative consequences?

Let's look at an instance, where you have asked your friend to get the house cleaned by the time, you arrive home from your office in the evening. When you asked her to do that task, you asked her with no belief. Just like you expected, when you come home, you see the home not cleaned. You didn't say anything. The same incidents happen repeatedly. Frustration continues to bubble up but your friend has no idea. The problem doesn't get solved but it just keeps making you feel angry and frustrated.

Here, you are self-fulfilling your nocebo. Here, the nocebo effect and the fear of the possibilities for a clash if you open up about what bothers you, stop you from expressing your expectations. Unexpressed failed expectations just keep piling your anger and bad feelings to the point where you start to hate your friend. The problem could have been solved easily if you had just opened up about your expectations to your friend.


It is not possible for people to live up to our expectations when you don't tell them what your expectations are. Unspoken expectations are most of the time guaranteed to go unfulfilled. We are humans. We are not mind readers. We have to know what someone expects from us, or from the relationship that we share with them so that we can behave accordingly. This way, we can avoid unnecessary disappointments and hurts.

And that is why we have to communicate properly.

Also, it is unrealistic to think that just because we have communicated our expectations we have for others, others will behave accordingly

Each one of us has his/her own desires and longings. We all like to behave the way we want to. If someone's expectations don't go well with our goals and interests, it is common to resist that person's expectations.

So, does that mean, we have to live with zero expectations?

Just like how expectations are inevitable, the disappointments from the expectations are also unavoidable. People would say, to avoid being disappointed, try to have no expectations in life. But even the anticipation of attaining peace from not expecting anything is an expectation. Also, it is impossible to live a life with no expectations. How would people treat each other if they don't seek love and kindness from each other?

So, the solution is not having any expectations but learning to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy expectations and practising only healthy expectations.


(Getting resentful and angry for these things are not reasonable ones)

  1. TIME: It is natural to expect our loved ones to be there for us when we need them. But we have to understand that they have their own lives to handle.

  2. When you expect others to take care of everything: Research shows that people living together when they share their work and do it like partners, it prevents them from feeling that "only one is doing everything" and saves them from many problems which can arise because of that.

  3. Priority: We expect our loved ones to see us as their first priority. It is natural to feel like that. But we also have to understand that they have their own family and other personal needs before us.

  4. Expecting others to apologise first: Maybe, whenever you and your friend fight, your friend always comes first and apologies or does whatever is needed to make things fine and you got used to that. Now, every time a fight arises, you expect your friend to do the necessary things to make things right. This might sound okay but there is no guarantee that your friend is okay with that. Maybe, one day he/ she could get tired of it and could leave you because of that too. So stop treating your friend like that and don't avoid doing your work in solving things.


  1. RESPECT: Every person in this world has something great within him/her. No matter what relationship, people deserve to be respected. The expectation to be respected is a rightful one.

  2. UNDERSTANDING: Each one of us have our own belief system shaped out by the past traumas and experiences. Sometimes, people may not be able to understand why a certain person behaves the way he/she behaves.He/she has the right to have his/her belief system and behave the way he/she wants to. We can try to understand or we can leave. But we certainly cannot accuse them.

  3. COMMUNICATION AND AUTHENTICITY: Your loved ones deserves not only to know what is happening in your life and has the right to expect you to listen to what is happening in his/her life. Having a transparent bond with your loved ones prevents from creating unmet expectations.

  4. EMOTIONAL DETACHMENT: It is not separating ourselves from having emotions. Instead, it is about learning to separate our emotions from the expected outcomes. Because the more we get ourselves attached to something, the more disappointed we would be when that thing doesn't happen and the more hurtful it would be to let it go. But when we learn to adapt our expectations to go with the flow, we would learn to be grateful despite how things around us go.

I do my thing and you do your thing.

I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,

And you are not in this world to live up to mine.

You are you, and I am I,

and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.

If not, it can't be helped.

—Fritz Perls, "Gestalt Therapy Verbatim," 1969

STEP FOURTEEN'S VIEW: We all must remind ourselves every now and then that we are all separate person with separate weaknesses and strengths wanting to be loved just the way we are. Let's learn to have only healthy expectations and grow into a better person without suffocating others with our own expectations. ( needs and desires)Let's learn to blend in with others without the need of changing them top to bottom.