Expectations are beliefs (or opinions, or convictions, or fantasy) that somethings will happen or are likely to happen. We consciously and unconsciously generate expectations all of the time based on our personal and cultural history. It is rare that as adults we walk into any kind of social situation with no expectations.
When we walk into a restaurant we expect to be given a menu. The mailman drops off the mail around noon. Your husband should be the one who mows the grass. He should remember your birthday. He should get you that necklace that you have dropped numerous hints about and plan a surprise vacation to the Bahamas.
You see how quickly expectations can go from the ordinary into pure fantasy.
Here’s what happened to a participant of the “Beneath the Weight” program:
"Terry" and her husband, "Philip" (not their real names) own a business that operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Terry was angry with Philip for something he did that was inconsiderate of Terry's feelings. To make amends, Philip asked Terry to go on a "date." Terry gleefully accepted. Philip and Terry agreed to when the date would occur.
When the evening for the date came, Terry and Philip started the evening by doing some business errands. Terry expected that the date would start after the errands were completed. The date didn't happen. Philip apparently forgot about the date. After the errands, Philip drove them back to work.
Terry felt so disappointed. Terry translated Philip’s actions into, “He doesn’t love me.” The event caused Terry to go into a distressed mood. To relieve her disappointment and distress, Terry went by herself to a well-know "high-calorie" restaurant. Terry has been weight-challenged for almost all of her life. Her high-calorie meal helped to ease Terry’s disappointment and distress. The meal also added to Terry’s weight-challenge (and she felt somewhat ill from the richness of the meal).
While doing the Beneath the Weight program, Terry realized, on her own, that her disappointment and distress was caused by her "expectations." She concluded that if she had not expected Philip to follow through with his agreement to go on a date, she would not have been disappointed and distressed, and she would not have gone to the high-calorie restaurant to get relief.
Terry thought, if I didn’t have the expectation, my reaction to not having the date would have been, “Ho-hum, what’s Plan B for being good to myself?”
By questioning yourself, you can begin to develop the life you want rather than the life you have. We talk about the beauty of seeing life through the eyes of a child; letting go of expectations is how we do this.