Have you ever thought about how your expectations influence and affect your day-to-day thoughts, overall mental health and how you experience life? I have! They can influence all of these to an extreme degree. Once we bring this into our conscious awareness, we can purposely shift these expectations so that we can automatically feel better about ourselves and the world. Let me explain.
In a recent social media post, I saw a woman lamenting that “she was so depressed she couldn’t function; she had given her spouse everything for the past 25 years and he simply up and left her. Life wasn’t fair. How was she supposed to carry on”? In this case, her expectation was that her spouse stays with her forever given their vows and the fact that she had given him her best. While that might be a reasonable and correct expectation, we can also see how these very expectations and thoughts associated with them are keeping her stuck and in a very low mental state. This is a choice, and one that she is making to her detriment. What would happen if she started changing her thoughts to “we had 25 great years together, but obviously something shifted that brought this to an end. Maybe this is a sign that we have outgrown each other and are ready for new people and experiences in life. I am glad that I lived with integrity and gave everything I had while we were in this relationship”? You see, it doesn’t matter what the “facts” are or how correct your thinking may be. Rather, your perception of a situation and your expectations of it determine your experience and hence your reality.
That may seem like an extreme example and be hard to digest for some people, so let’s use another scenario: holidays such as thanksgiving or Christmas. Often, even though these times of year are purported to be happy times where families get together and celebrate each other, it is also a time of great sadness, despair, and disappointment for many people. Why is that? Expectations. Expectations that these holidays should be filled with family and happiness, festivity and camaraderie and great food and on and on and on. The media and especially social media, inundates us with great expectations of what our lives should look like. Therefore, if we go to a family gathering and it doesn’t measure up, or if we don’t have family to get together with, or if our family is bickering rather than bonding and celebrating together, we are filled with disappointment.
Now I'm not suggesting that it's possible or advisable to let go of all your expectations and not to have standards to live up to. Rather, start to be more conscious of them, how they are influencing your mental health and experience of the world, and where necessary or beneficial, shift them to put yourself in a better mental state.
If you want to change your life; change your expectations and change your thoughts about it. It really is that simple!
I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback, drop me a line below.