Finding Your Way; Real Life Coaching Solutions for Real People: Managing Expectations
The Source of Suffering
In Buddhist philosophy, it is said that pain is inevitable and suffering is optional. You will experience pain during your life here, that is an unavoidable fact. Whether it's the physical pain of a broken bone or sickness, or the emotional pain of a broken heart or loss, you will feel pain.
There is no need to suffer. Most suffering comes from unrealistic expectations and a desire to control people and situations. You cause yourself a great deal of unnecessary suffering by harboring unrealistic expectations and resentment.
This article will help you let go of those things that cause suffering, and learn to live a peaceful life.
Living What Is
Managing your expectations doesn't mean you give up, settle into the chair and forget your dreams and ambitions. Instead, managing expectations is about letting go of an ideal of perfection and embracing the reality of what is. It's great to want things to be a certain way, but sometimes reality doesn't match your expectations.
While it's important to maintain optimism and striving for improvement, don't forget to embrace the truth of your life. While working toward a goal, don't get discouraged if everything isn't perfect. The truth is, nothing is ever "perfect". Besides, your definition of perfection is entirely different from someone else's idea of perfection.
Let go of your desire to control the outcome, let go of unrealistic expectations and the idea of perfection, and embrace your life as it is. This is the path to peace and a full life.
Goals and expectations are not your enemy. Having high standards for yourself helps you to work hard, stay focused and strive for improvement. Suffering happens when you set an unattainable standard for yourself. Always trying to be perfect causes you to always fall short and never feel like you are good enough.
If you grow attached to a specific goal or a predetermined outcome, then you will suffer. Things don't always work out the way you'd like, and that's okay. It's not the end of the world, unless you decide it is. And that is when you will suffer.
The key to managing your expectations of yourself is to maintain a high standard, do the best you can, and let go of the outcome.
If things don't go exactly as you'd planned, then you have a choice. You can fixate on the end result and beat yourself for failing once again, or you can evaluate the situation, assess your role in the outcome, and continue doing your best.
Take responsibility for your part in the way things turn out, without becoming overly invested in the final outcome. Learn to let it go.
Keep Moving Forward
Unrealistic expectations and the perfection ideal create a lot of suffering in your life. Striving for perfection not only makes you miserable, but it can also prevent you from moving forward in your life.
You cripple yourself with the phrase, "I Should." As in, "I should be... better, stronger, smarter, prettier, richer, kinder....." The list goes on and on, of all the things you should be.
You create an unrealistic expectation of the perfect should. What you should be in order for everything to work out exactly right.
Get a grip.
There will always be someone better. There will always be room for improvement. There will always be mistakes and missteps. Stop comparing yourself and your situation with anyone else. Every path is different. Don't judge your own path based on the journey of others.
You are fine, just the way you are.
If you are working toward your goals, aspirations and dreams, then you can't do it "wrong." You don't have to do everything (or anything) perfectly, in order to move toward your best life. Get started by taking a step in the right direction. Don't suffer by clinging to the outcome.
You might never be the fastest, smartest, richest or prettiest person in the room. So what? Life is not about getting to the end. It's about enjoying the process of living. Let go of your unrealistic standards of perfection and take one step in the direction of your best life.
You Do You
Suffering in Relationships
Another cause of suffering is relationships. Your unrealistic expectations of other people causes you a great deal of avoidable suffering.
Whether its personal relationships: friends, your partner, parents or kids, or professional relationships like your boss, employees, coworkers, a boss or whomever, relationships potentially create a great deal of your suffering.
Unfortunately, you bring it on yourself.
Two things are important to remember when managing your expectations of other people. First, you have no control over anyone but yourself. Let that sink in for a minute.
You can't control anyone. Except yourself.
The best way to stop suffering is to give up the illusion of control.
Secondly, to manage your expectations of others, you must communicate. People can't give you what you want, if they don't know what you want. Be clear and concise about your expectations.
Once you've expressed your expectations in any given situation, the other person has options on how to respond, and you have options as well. Using clear communication helps in every relatinship.
Give Up the Illusion
A Final Thought
As you go through life, its important to know where you want to go, who you want to be, and how you want to show up.
Your expectations of yourself and others will help you work toward those desired outcomes, and your best expression of who you truly are. As you learn to manage your expectations, releasing unrealistic expectations and the illusion of control, then you find freedom from your suffering.
Ultimately, you create a more peaceful, meaningful life.
Managing Your Expectations
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Deborah Reno