It's almost automatic, we have expectation for every thing in our every day life, from words, feelings, to people, scenarios, anything imaginable. We wake up, expect certain things to work out certain ways, expect meeting some people and even expect them to act or even say or feel certain ways. This sounds ridiculous but take a moment and step back and think about it. For example, I wake up, expect to go to work and see certain people, expect everyone to be respectful, expect everything will go smoothly. Obviously life doesn't work that way, I might wake up late, skip breakfast, hit traffic, have co-worker call in sick, rude people show up and problem arises at every turn. And the first reaction? Anger, annoyed, frustrated, you name it. But let's slow down and question ourselves, why? What did I actually get frustrated at? Why am I angry when I encounter rude customers? Rude people aren't uncommon, it's completely normal and statistically, with the high number of encounters I do each day as customer service, meeting rude people is almost certain. That's when I realize, I'm angry, annoyed, or frustrated because the root problem is unmet expectations.
At first, you might feel resistant to this idea, I was in denial and I was adamant about other people's behaviors were definitely to blame. But if you think of it like a movie, it makes sense. If you watch a horror movie, you expect to be scared. If you watch a thriller, you expect to be surprised and on edge. We don't go to an action movie and expect only dialogues or deadly stares. So when a movie fails to deliver, we feel disappointed or even angry. Similarly, when life doesn't pan out as we expect, we get frustrated and suffer.
We humans are creatures of habit. We like things to happen certain ways and we almost expect every day to be the same. Luckily, the only thing predictable about life is its unpredictability. If we go on a roller coaster ride, we just enjoy the feelings of twists and turns and don't really suffer from disappointment of why this twist only go this way and not that way. In that approach, life can be an adventure and we can enjoy it without the addition of suffering of unmet expectations.
It sounds easy in theory, right? Applying to real life isn't that simple. When we look for jobs, we hope to hear back, to get interviews after turning in x amount of applications. When we interact with people, especially our loved ones, we have several scenarios in our head that they will act this way and will say these things. And of course, I believe most of us, if not all, experience disappointment and even despair when things don't turn out like the scenarios in our head. And if we're not careful, before long, we find ourselves stuck in our sea of suffering, all due to this strong disappointed feeling of how different reality and our expectations are.
Does it mean we shouldn't hope for anything? No, hope is vital. What we need to let go of is expectations. However, there's a fine line between strong hope and expectations. Hope gives us strength and courage to do things, to keep going. Expectations might hinder our process. In a simple example, we buy a black pen and gift to our friend, we hope that they accept our gift. Our friend takes it but mentions later on that they like blue pen. We might feel sad, hurt, even angry at our friend, how can they be ungrateful to us giving them gift? You see, in the example, the hope that we bring joy to our friend and our friend to accept it propels us to go out and buy a gift and muster the courage to give someone our affection. However, in the process, we expect our friend to actually love the gift and be grateful and return the favor, yada yada, however great the fantasy we paint in our head. The reality is not like that, and we are so convicted with our fantasy that we feel hurt and angry, it's like reality does us wrong. This is how our expectations cause us to suffer, and make us resistant to reality.
So, what's the best thing to do? Having no expectations. Of course, that's not always easy or even possible. Having the awareness is a major step. If we're aware of our expectations, we're more willing to face reality as it is and we're much less susceptible to disappointment. Our life can be like a drama movie, let us experience the wonder and the up and downs without suffering from unmet expectations, because after all, we can't really research before hand the summary of it.