The Good and Bad of High Expectations


Every individual has expectations from time to time. People use it as a barometer to guide decision-making, for example, to either continue moving away or pushing for change. This is however every personal as it varies from one person to another. Moreover, society influences how these expectations are set. Some believe setting the bar high, makes it difficult for one to achieve satisfaction and happiness. Is this true? These will elaborated and reflected upon in this blogpost.

High Expectations means higher standards

As a tool for decision-making, individial expectations reflect one's standards. The do's and the don'ts for a certain individual. It is relative but society could somehow distinguish should expectations are high enough or low. However, most often expectations are bounded with the person itself. The question from the society would be, a poor beggar should have learned to lower his or her expectations. A beggar can not be just the poor. He or she can be either the sick, the vulnerable, lonely, old or the disadvantaged. Although this group could have low expectations in their situation, but remain stedfast on having higher expectations on other aspects of their lives, their morals, social practices or perhaps tradition. 

High Expectations is a sign of trust

In relationships, high expectations can be seen as signs of trust. Quite ironic when some people could associate expectations as the start of ruining trust. Well, trust are built on expectations. This is the reason why in a therapeutic relationship, a contract is directly made by discussing and reflecting over expectations one has for another. This also means that high expectations gives us a glimpse of the optimism of a person that another could deliver or meet such expectations. This is perhaps true, because psychologically-balanced individuals would set the bar high, not to make themselves isolated. They would want people to better than they assume are. They maybe are high enough, but fundamentally possible to achieve if one would really even try. 

High Expectations means loving yourself.

Loving yourself is key for respecting ourselves. We know who we are, and we try to evolve as time goes by. As we get older and gather experiences, our expectations change. But we utilize our expectations to protect ourselves. There will always be a point where we can not compromise things. These are expectations others would consider unreasonable, but for others to accept them is the start of respecting them. These expectations are essential to uphold one's identity. People should respect these expectations as part of our individual differences. We are not alike, so we just need to respect each other. Therefore, by upholding our own expectations, whether people judge them as low or high, is a means of giving ourselves respect and love we could give to ourselves. 

High Expectations create false beliefs.

The problem with expectations is the belief that another person could fulfill them, in spite of the individual's limitations. No one expects someone to do something, without the feeling of optimism that the other can meet them. This somehow creates an exaggerated positive image of another, a form of false belief. People tend to put others in a role that they themselves are incapable of. Simply, these expectations are not too high, they are actually devoid of any truth or reality. So it can naturally not be met regardless of one would do. Unfortunately, many tend to create false beliefs of others. This is an attempt to create a world around us based on our desires. This is problematic because we are supposed to adjust accordingly our expectations based on triggers outside, not from what we have inside ourselves.

High Expectations could hurt you.

Yes, expectations can hurt you. However, one thing is for certain no one in this world is free from hurt. We could utilize this hurt to change for the better. We could either reflect on our actions, expectations and possible explanations on those are really necessary or not. We all have mistakes, but fortunately, we could be better if we really want to. One point reflection would be when the same level of expectation hurt as repeatitively. Perhaps, one should reconsider lowering them, but this is not always necessary. There are only two explanations, the society has degraded morals and values, or you put yourself too high in the pedestal. If the latter is true, you would easily know because people around you have the difficulty connecting with you. So should the latter be false, just continue perhaps you can initiate the positive change the society actually needs.

High Expectations could ruin relationships.

Whatever relationship, may it be professional, personal or therapeutic, high expectations ruin relationships by weakening rapport that has been established, making a toll on trust between the individuals involved. Here plays communication an important role. Recognizing another's expectations is crucial in any relationship. By doing so, one shows respect to one's differences. Moreover, this reflects the attempt of an individual to understand the other's beliefs and values. This further strengthens trust. Whether expectations are impossible to achieve or not; once the individuals involved recognized and respect them, that is sufficient. However, when expectations are left unchecked, expectations become more unreasonable, leading to frustration and dissatisfaction. 

High Expectations should be adjusted.

As long as communication is initiated, strengthened and maintained, expectations could be leveled up to reality. This process involved self-assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and hindrances. Without this phase of reflection, people would continue to belief that the problem lies primarily on others, and not either fully or partly from them. This reflection must be accompanied by the humility to accept one's mistakes as well, especially in judging our own capabilities, and capacity of others to meet expectations. Should one not be humble enough, expectations would continue to balloon. Lastly, one should be open to adjust expectations. The people around us could help, and this requires understanding the point-of-views of others, and wisdom to incorporate them in the process.

Expectations function like a double-edged sword. One should have to protect the values and beliefs one has for oneself. Without expectations, people become ordinary, just like any other. They provide us our uniqueness in a flock of people. However, being unique should not hinder us from accomodating others despite of them unable to meet our expectations. This can make one frustrated but this alone could not be a sufficient reason to compromise our values by either setting the threshold of expectations too low, or not having expectations at all.

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