It is a sad fact that the vast majority of people living in today’s modern world are plagued with stress, worry and mental suffering that is a direct result of their ignorant thought processes and their inability to cope with their expectations of the world around them.
We have this misguided belief that certain things “should” happen as a result of certain actions. Newton was correct in his precept that “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”.
The problem lies in our interpretation of reality, and it's from this ignorant perspective that our confusion is born. It is the very nature of having expectations in the first place that is the root of the problem.
There are three basic scenarios within which we can categorize our misunderstanding and it is those misunderstandings that lead us to our mental and emotional suffering.
How to Cope with Expectations of Ourselves
The notion that we are in total control of our bodies is the first part of our ignorance. The vast majority of our bodily functions happen automatically, without conscious thought.
We may have the thought to pick up a glass to take a drink of water, but the ability of our nervous system and muscles to translate that into action is completely out of our conscious control. Once the water reaches our mouth, we can choose to swallow, but after that, it’s again out of our hands (so to speak) as to what our body does with it.
Despite this fact, we are often upset when our bodies don’t respond the way we want them to or the way we feel they “should”! We look down at the scale, Pleading “Why me?” when, in fact, there are literally dozens of reasons other than diet and exercise that affect our body’s desire or ability to lose or gain weight.
Accept the fact that there is no should and that there is only what is and what is not. Your expectations of your body are simply a misguided attempt to control something that you have no control over.
How to Cope with our Expectations of Others
Unfortunately, helping others does not mean they should or will help you. Being kind to others does not mean they should or will be kind to you.
Understanding the why behind what people do is one of the most powerful skills you can learn in your life. To intuitively understand what someone needs in the moment requires the application of a trait that escapes most people, that being patience.
By having the patience to allow others to be the person they are, (without trying to control their behaviour) you allow the causal factors guiding their actions to speak to you without judgment.
When you begin to see the why behind what they are doing, you will not be taken off guard by their actions. In effect, it will allow you to better anticipate the probable outcomes, which will also allow you to control the one thing you can control, which is your response.
How to Cope with our Expectations of the Situation
The final part of understanding comes in the form of our desire to control the situations we get ourselves into.
Perspectives like, “I have the education, I deserve that job. How could they hire him?” or “I trained harder than anyone, I deserved to win, I was robbed!” Because we tend to focus our attention on our own side of things, we often miss the other factors contributing to the outcome of a given situation. Our input to the situation is but one small piece of a very large puzzle. When we focus our attention too finely, the big picture escapes our field of view. Did we really train the hardest?
Was there really no one else out there better suited for the position? The fact is, even if the answer is yes, we still don’t deserve to have the situation work out in our favour. As I said before, there is only what is and what is not. The outcome of a given situation is the result of millions of different interactions that have been going on long before you were even in the situation.
With millions of interactions leading up to a certain situation, the possible outcomes of those interactions are innumerable. Whether it’s others, the situation, or ourselves, we are not in control. The only thing we can do is to apply stimulus and then be mindful of our reaction to the actions of others. Ultimately, it is through this greater understanding that we learn to cope with our expectations…..Think about it!
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