Get rid of your Expectations

February 14, 2010

Often when we’re going about our daily lives we might experience some disappointment, or a brief loss of hope, or a state of unsatisfaction. And the reasons are many; sometimes we might not even realize we feel this way because the feelings are so brief.

Its not as dramatic as it sounds, these feelings are a part of life. And they can often spur us on to make change in our lives so we don’t experience the disappointments as often.

What causes these feelings to arise, even if they are brief?


We can subconsciously expect a particular outcome during many different scenarios. When we take on a new task or job, we expect a certain outcome. When we go on a date we expect he or she to behave in a civil manner. When we set certain rules for our children we expect them to comply without question. When we make friends with someone (even in a romantic sense) we expect them to act a certain way and treat us with dignity and respect.

And so, if there’s a glitch in the process of the job we’re doing, or our date turns out to be a loud and obnoxious show off, or one of the kids decides the rules are unfair or we learn the new friend we make is untrustworthy, what do we do?

Chances are you might feel frustrated because the job isn’t going smoothly, you might feel disappointed at choosing the wrong date, you may feel challenged that the kids question your authority and you might feel hopeless because you trusted someone who was dishonest.

And all this can lead to a loss of confidence, maybe not a large scale but over time, these disappointments can leave your self esteem shaky and unstable.

How do we stabilize our self esteem?

By releasing our expectations.

Which doesn’t mean we have to lower our expectations, it means we can set standards or behavior that we will accept and decide what action we can take if those standards of behavior aren’t honored. If we do this then there is no need for expectation and we aren’t left open to disappointing emotions when our expectations are not met.

Expecting specific outcomes basically means we anticipate that things will go a certain way and when they don’t, we are left feeling disappointed, and sometimes even resentful.

So rather than feed our habit of anticipating outcomes that aren’t even in our control, its less stressful and easier to work out standards for ourselves, and the action we will take if those standards aren’t met, or need assessment or adjustment.

For instance, going back to the point about the job in the examples I used above, if we prepare a task plan before we begin the job, and write down some troubleshooting processes then we will have an action plan if anything goes wrong. Being prepared will give us a back plan if we need it and it will help us feel more in control if hitches do occur.


Continued on Page 2


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  1. lower your expectations and never be disappointed…


  2. I agree, Lower… then get rid of them! lol Thanks 🙂

  3. I find that it is the expectation that causes the disappointment and anger that we feel in our relationship. It is usually disguised/or called something else. Sometimes it is even called love.

  4. Exactly! Expectation creates disappointment! Spot on 🙂

  5. Hi Lola,
    I’m used to making an action plan as I was once a teacher. It is now a habit that keeps me organized, less expectation, less stress. Thanks for sharing this.

  6. Clinging to expectations is a euphemism for what we Buddhists refer to as clinging attachments and aversions. Both are linked to ego and a desire to control. Until we become aware and conscious, we fail to understand that clinging to specific outcomes disables us. Clinging to an expected outcome will assuredly result in disappointment as frequently as it results in pleasure. Worse still is that the clinging mind is like a closed door that won’t let any interesting possibilities in.

    So where do we begin when in comes to breaking this patterned thinking that cripples us? Calm your mind and accept things as they are. Practice accepting things that are absolutely beyond your control. Start sorting the wheat from chaff and saying “yes” to the realities of daily life. Notice things like the weather, then remind yourself of the fact that you cannot do anything to control it and be at peace with that.

  7. I am aware of having high expectations, but I am not sure if that is so bad. If it turned out different, sometimes I am disappointed, but most times I just think, oh well, this can happen. Having expectations has indeed to do with your ego. Life is like a school, you learn every day how to deal with it. And that is one of the beauties of it.

  8. @Lita C. Malicdem

    Thanks Lita!! You’re so right, less stress is what its all about I think. Being organized is key, and it helps to keep us grounded. Thank you so much for your comment 🙂

  9. @ timethief

    You have a wonderful perspective, I love love love your views. I think you hit the nail on the head, it is about control and how we struggle so hard to maintain it. Clinging attachment, I like that term.. its fitting.

    Accept things as they are, yes. I totally agree with this and it reminds me how struggle occurs when we resist the truth of our situation.

    Thank you so much for your insight, you always make me think bigger ❤

  10. @Ellen

    I think having expectations is different to having standards, only because with expectations we want specific outcomes, as timethief says. If we dont get those specific outcomes, thats when disappointment happens and over time many disappointments can manifest in an erosion of self esteem, self confidence and empowerment.

    I guess the point is, by letting go of expectation we are then able to remove or lessen those moments of disappointment that can have a huge impact on our self esteem even though we might not realize it.

    Thank you for your thought provoking comment, I appreciate it very much!

  11. Nice read! Here’s another good story on the subject –
    How to get rid of desires and expectations?

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