What is unrealistic expectations

How to Relinquish Unrealistic Expectations

We all hold unrealistic expectations — though we might realize it only when they backfire. Here’s what to do if your expectations are too high.

All of us hold unrealistic expectations.

In fact, the biggest unrealistic expectation is that people shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations, according to Miranda Morris, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Bethesda, Maryland. “It’s part of the human experience.”

But this doesn’t mean unrealistic expectations are healthy. They can chip away at relationships, shut down goals, and even steer lives in an unhealthy direction.

“Unrealistic expectations are potentially damaging because they set us and others up for failure,” says Selena C. Snow, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Rockville, Maryland. When we or someone else naturally falls short, we draw false conclusions, feel difficult feelings, and act in unhelpful ways, she adds.

The first step to relinquishing unrealistic expectations is spotting them. This isn’t always easy, especially if we’ve held these expectations for years.

Snow shared this example: You hold the unrealistic expectation that “I should be perfect in school.” Because this is impossible, you inevitably feel like a failure.

You conclude that you’re stupid and incompetent, feel bad about what this means for your entire life, then avoid applying to grad school.

Snow cited some examples and signs of holding onto unrealistic expectations:

  • You think, “Everyone must like me.” The reality is we can’t make everyone like us, no matter how hard we try.
  • You think, “The world should be fair.” This is also unrealistic because many aspects of the world are outside our control.
  • You think “My golden years were supposed to just be golden.” But there are many transitions and challenges as we age.
  • You think “My marriage should be easy.” Then, when problems arise, you assume the relationship is hopeless and avoid working on it.

Unrealistic expectations assume a level of control that we don’t have in a situation. We repeatedly feel disappointed that the expectation hasn’t been met.

Morris cited these examples of thoughts that indicate your expectations are too high:

  • “It’s not OK to be depressed or anxious.”
  • “It’s not OK to have painful feelings and thoughts.”
  • “Should” phrases, like “My spouse should know how I’m feeling without me telling them,” or “My kids should always listen to me.”
  • “If, then” thoughts, like “If my partner loved me, then they’d know how I’m feeling.”

Unrealistic or false expectations like these interfere with our ability to pursue what matters to us in life.

For instance, if you hold the unrealistic expectation that it’s not OK to make mistakes, you may not take risks that could help you grow.

Unrealistic expectations are rigid. They don’t leave room for changing circumstances or allow us or others to be flexible. Sometimes the expectations might seem reasonable, fair, and realistic, but your experience reveals they can’t be met.

Your expectations can also create more problems than they solve.

For instance, you might expect that your kids should always be well-behaved, but in your efforts to enforce this expectation, you experience disappointment, conflict with your kids, and mental health challenges.

Even when unrealistic expectations get us down, it can be difficult to let them go.

This is partly because we believe setting high standards for ourselves is helpful. We think these expectations motivate and inspire us to accomplish our aspirations, says Snow.

We also worry that with a lack of unrealistic expectations, we’ll just “sit around and not meet any goals.”

Unrealistic expectations can also feel protective, Morris says. We might worry that if we loosen our expectations, other people will exploit and hurt us.

But we don’t need sky-high expectations to ensure our safety. Instead, she stressed the importance of getting out of our heads and focusing on present experiences, such as how someone is treating you. “Paying attention to our experience as it’s happening gives us a lot more information about our safety than these expectations.”

You may find it helpful to face your unrealistic expectations with curiosity and humor.

Morris suggests getting to know your expectations. Consider keeping a list of every unrealistic expectation you have this week.

Instead of beating yourself up when you notice one, consider making it into a game.

You might say, “That’s a funny one!” or, “So interesting I have this impossible expectation.”

Or you might simply observe, noticing that “I’m really hard on myself when I make mistakes.”

1. Use the double-standard technique: What would you say to a loved one in the same situation?

This technique involves imagining what you’d say to a close friend or family member who holds the same idea or belief, Snow says. She teaches this strategy to her clients.

“Usually, they will say something far more reasonable, realistic, and measured to someone else than what they would say to themselves. ” Then, they can practice saying something as realistic and self-compassionate to themselves, she said.

For instance, Snow’s client says she made a mistake at work. She believes this makes her a terrible employee. The underlying unrealistic expectation is that she shouldn’t make any mistakes at work. When asked what she’d say to a loved one, she said: “Everybody makes mistakes sometimes. It is part of being human and not a machine.” Then she tells herself something similar.

To make this method more effective, set the intention to review how it went afterward. You might ask yourself, “What did I learn from trying the double-standard technique?” and write a journal entry on the answer. This solidifies and reinforces what you learned in this exercise.

2. Reflect on the effects of your expectations

Both Snow and Morris stressed the importance of considering whether an expectation is helpful.

For instance, you might consider, “Does [the expectation] help me be who I want to be? [Does it help me] go where I want to go?” “Is it in service of what I care about, such as a good relationship, safety, or professional or academic goals?” Morris said.

If it isn’t, she suggested gently acknowledging this. You can tell yourself something like: “This expectation doesn’t help me now.” This might feel like a loss, which you also can acknowledge, she said.

To test whether your high expectations are truly functional or improve your effectiveness, you might consider performing a behavioral experiment. Here, you purposefully go into a situation without preparing in advance to test whether or not you actually function just fine without them.

According to Snow, clients often realize that unrealistic expectations don’t motivate them to strive like they thought they did, she said.

Clients may also realize that the unreasonable rules they have created lead them to avoid challenges at all, as they believe they will never succeed.

If the expectation is working against you, see if you can release your grip a little, Morris said.

Again, it’s important to reflect on how effective this technique was afterward. For example, you might journal on the question, “Did I find that letting go of high expectations make it so I was not able to perform well?”

3. Practice compassion

When you’re asking yourself to give something up or loosen your hold on unhealthy beliefs, it’s helpful to have a replacement, Morris said.

She suggested compassion — both with others and yourself. This includes “patience, openness, and gentleness.” It includes the way you’d treat a child who was hurt, she said.

For instance, if your spouse disappoints you, acknowledge the disappointment and sadness you feel. If it’s something that needs to be addressed, Morris said, then you can communicate that your feelings were hurt. “When you speak with compassion and understanding, people are much more apt to hear you.”

Instead of telling yourself, “I can’t believe I screwed up my presentation,” you can acknowledge your feelings and get curious about what didn’t work, what did, and how you’ll improve next time.

One way to cultivate compassion is through practicing loving-kindness meditation.

When you’ve been practicing compassion for a while, check in with yourself and think about how it’s going, what you have learned, and how your outlook has changed since you began.

4. Allow for flexibility

Being flexible “starts with us being sensitive to changing circumstances,” Morris said.

For instance, instead of telling your husband, “You said you’d clean the kitchen. We had a deal!” you might say, “It looks like you didn’t get to cleaning the kitchen. Could you work on it? Need my help?”

Here, you’re communicating your needs and giving him the opportunity to listen and make a choice about responding to them.

Unrealistic expectations are unhelpful expectations. Even though it’s hard, you can find many benefits through working on relinquishing them.

Remember that you can create new rules and beliefs that actually inspire, support, and serve both you and your relationships.

Many of the concepts and methods discussed in this article are practiced in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). To further explore and engage with relinquishing unrealistic expectations, you might consider seeking counseling with a CBT specialist.

Looking for a therapist, but not sure where to start? Psych Central’s How to Find Mental Health Support resource can help.

Unrealistic Expectations: 12 Examples and Tips

Growing up, you probably had caregivers or teachers who encouraged optimism because they wanted you to explore possibilities and enjoy success. Maybe they assured you it’s possible to achieve anything you set your mind to.

As an adult, though, you’ve likely encountered the harsh truth that you can’t always achieve your dreams through sheer willpower.

Experts generally consider optimism a beneficial trait. It can improve your ability to cope with stressful situations and manage physical and emotional distress.

But it’s important to recognize that optimism doesn’t guarantee a positive outcome.

You can’t control every situation in life. When your expectations for yourself — or anyone else — fall in areas outside your control, you’ll probably end up facing some disappointment.

Curious about the impact of unrealistic expectations? Looking for guidance on maintaining a more balanced perspective? You’ll find some tips below.

When do hope and optimism become unrealistic expectations? There’s no cut-and-dried answer, but looking at some common examples can offer some insight.

But first, let’s clarify what expectations are: They’re things you want to achieve or believe life will grant you.

Some of your hopes might reflect things you can absolutely achieve. For example, this would be a perfectly realistic expectation: “With good communication, my partner and I can work out most minor relationship conflicts.”

Other expectations, like the ones below, might be slightly less grounded in reality.

At work

It’s a common belief that throwing yourself into something will yield positive results.

Maybe when you show up at work, you really show up. You come in early and stay late. You give 100 percent, volunteering to help coworkers and speaking up with new ideas.

And yet, someone with more seniority gets that promotion. When your annual review comes up, you get plenty of positive feedback but only a small salary bump.

Most people want to believe that effort pays off, and that’s understandable. Without this expectation, you might feel less motivated to try. But it just doesn’t always work out that way.

While effort can sometimes influence others, you ultimately can’t control anyone else’s choices or needs.

In social situations

Some people hold the belief that as long as they’re kind, people will like them. Kindness goes a long way, and it’s safe to assume most people will have more positive regard for a kind person than an unkind one.

But plenty of factors also affect the way people feel about others, including:

  • personality
  • body language
  • communication styles

So, someone could respect your kindness without actually liking you.

In life, you’ll meet plenty of people who have vastly different personalities. Maybe you’re that rare person who likes everyone you meet, but this tends to be more of an exception than a rule.

In relationships

At the start of a new relationship, you might find yourself thinking “I’ve never felt this way before — I don’t see how we’d ever fight.” But it happens, even in the strongest, healthiest relationships.

You and your partner are two unique people, so you won’t always agree. If you have a few opposing viewpoints, spending a lot of time together can make these differences stand out even more clearly.

The good thing about conflict is that it’s an absolutely normal — even healthy — part of relationships. After all, disagreeing means you’re comfortable enough with each other to express your opinions and frustrations.

A more realistic expectation might focus on practicing good conflict resolution to address any major disagreements.

Expectations can certainly have some benefits.

Maybe you need certain things from your relationship, like increased intimacy or more spontaneous romance. You prioritize finding ways to discuss these (realistic) expectations with your partner, which strengthens your partnership.

With less realistic expectations, you might expend plenty of effort without seeing any progress. Failing to meet an expectation — winning the lottery, falling instantly in love with the person of your dreams — can set you up for frustration, self-judgment, and potentially even depression.

Disappointment is a natural part of life, but when you consistently expect too much of yourself, you set yourself up for burnout. Continually failing to meet your own expectations can prompt guilt and shame in the shape of unhelpful beliefs, like “I’m not good enough” or “I just don’t have what it takes.”

If you feel like you’ll never be able to accomplish what you want for yourself, eventually you might stop trying.

Expecting more from others than they can realistically provide can:

  • strain your relationships
  • fuel conflict
  • leave you angry and resentful

You might begin to lose faith in your loved ones, even when they did nothing to betray your trust.

Curious where your expectations fall?

These key signs can help you recognize patterns of unrealistic expectations:

  • You feel stressed and upset when things don’t go as planned or your routine deviates slightly.
  • You find plenty to criticize in yourself and others.
  • You fixate on small details and find it very important to get everything right.
  • When things go wrong, even in minor ways, you feel let down and frustrated.
  • You have very specific visions and find it difficult to accept other possible outcomes.
  • When others don’t fall in line with your plans, you feel irritated and resentful.

It’s normal to feel all of these things from time to time, but if they play a recurring role in your life, it may be time to rethink your expectations.

If you’re realizing that some of your expectations veer toward the unrealistic side of the spectrum, these pointers can help you reframe them.

Do some self-exploration

Expectations often stem from visions other people have for you. You might absorb these and carry them forward, even when they don’t really align with your personal hopes.

As you begin to reconsider your expectations in life, consider whether they truly resonate with you.

Would achieving those goals fulfill you and bring you joy? If not, you may find it easier to let go and refocus your attention on reframing the goals that really matter.

Make room to appreciate what you have

Spending most of your time focused on what you want makes it easier to lose sight of what you already have. Dogged pursuit of a dream house, a seven-figure income, or the perfect partner can leave you with little time for loved ones, hobbies, and the small joys of life.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t have goals or expectations. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with seeking happiness, a stable income, and romantic connection.

Still, spending a bit less time reaching for the future and a bit more time living in the moment could help you notice ways you’ve already met some of these broader expectations.

Focus on what you’ve achieved

When you feel frustrated with yourself for failing to meet unrealistic goals, try taking a closer look at the things you have achieved. Revisiting past accomplishments can help you keep things in perspective.

Say you want to achieve fame as a musician, but your debut album has largely gone unnoticed. You might remind yourself about the great vibe you get playing local shows, the camaraderie among your band members, and the pleasure you get from creating music. Not every musician ever releases an album, so you’ve already come pretty far.

Trying to set more realistic expectations going forward? These tips can help.

Remember: You can only control yourself

When setting an expectation, it can help to first ask yourself whether you actually have any control over the situation.

People through the ages have tried and failed to predict the whims of life. Similarly, expectations centered on what you want others to do often fall flat.

For more realistic, achievable outcomes, try keeping your focus on the areas inside your control — your own actions and choices.

Know your limits

Even with the best intentions and the willingness to put in maximum effort, you may not find it possible to improve every situation or meet every expectation.

Effort can get you closer to fulfilling your dreams, but you might need additional resources you just don’t have access to, like unlimited energy or more hours in the day. That doesn’t make you a failure, it makes you a human being with normal physical and emotional limitations.

If you fail to meet an expectation, acknowledge that you did your best and offer yourself compassion instead of blame. Don’t forget to extend this compassion to others who happen to fall short of your expectations, too.

Share your expectations

Most people have some expectations in their personal relationships. Yet when the people in your life don’t know what you want from them, they can’t do much to accommodate you.

As in most areas of life, good communication can make all the difference. Discussing your relationship needs, along with what you’re willing to contribute, can help you collaborate to create expectations that work well for everyone involved.

Keep a flexible mindset

Here’s one thing to remember about unrealistic expectations: They tend to be fairly rigid.

In reality, circumstances can change rapidly, without any warning. These changes may open some doors even as they slam others shut. The more flexible you are with your goals, the better they can accommodate life’s unpredictability.

Advice like “dream big” or “reach for the stars” comes from a good place, but it can lead to expectations that fall short of what’s realistically possible.

You don’t have to scrap all your dreams, but it’s worth exploring what you really want from those goals. You never know — perhaps you’ve already achieved it.

Crystal Raypole has previously worked as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues.

Unrealistic expectations. Clientology. What Your Customers Really Want

Unrealistic expectations

I used the New Coke story as a basic example of how far marketing illusions can take a company. Coca-Cola's management made a series of seemingly rational conclusions, seemingly adequately assessed the situation and made a corporate decision. The smokescreen of speculation that methods rather than the global futility of market research are to blame for product launch failures means that market research will continue to thrive. The idea of ​​minimizing risk through pre-determined consumer opinions is so tempting that companies continue to spend millions in pursuit of it. This is despite regular reports that 80% of new products fail.

It is reasonable to ask: “Are we able to adequately assess ourselves, our intentions and tastes?” In any decision, from the most important ones in life - choosing the people we love and the houses we live in, and ending with small ones from the series “what kind of chocolate bar to buy and whether to buy it at all?” – participation of consciousness is at least limited.

• Much of the information we store and use is processed unconsciously.

• We do not have conscious access to this information - we cannot explain how we know the £10 note is genuine.

• The more stable and habitual the behavior, the more likely it is to be controlled by the unconscious.

• We do not always understand and remember our actions provoked by the unconscious.

• Lack of this understanding does not prevent us from coming up with seemingly reasonable justifications for what happened, even if they have nothing to do with reality.

• What the conscious mind seems to want, the unconscious can simply ignore at the crucial moment when habits, emotions and impulses come to the fore.

• Information that the unconscious hides and filters, and then uses when making decisions, is not amenable to logical accounting and analysis. As a result, we cannot determine exactly at what moments we were under the influence of the unconscious. Finally, our ideas about what determines our choice do not always coincide with what really determines it.

At the very moment when any consumer research starts from the assumption that buyers know how they feel about something and predicts how they will behave at the moment of purchase, researchers make a fundamental mistake.

In the past few years, two psychology professors have studied the role of consciousness and the unconscious in human behavior and published their research: Timothy Wilson in The Strangers to Ourselves, and Daniel Wegner in The Illusion of Conscious Will. Conscious Will), and these names speak for themselves. Evidence of the distance between consciousness and the unconscious is all around us, you just have to look closely: from the moments when we unexpectedly say something clever and are internally surprised by it, and ending with cases like those when, on the TV show American Idol, a contestant who is deaf, He hears from Simon Cowell[3] that he sings badly, but he still considers himself a good singer.

All of the above is not to say that consumer research does not make sense at all, but it imposes significant restrictions on how it should be conducted and how much attention should be paid to answering questions directed to consciousness. After all, the problem of imbalance between the conscious evaluation process and at least partially unconscious buying process in most research approaches has not yet been resolved.

Ironically, marketing (even without taking into account consumer surveys on which it usually relies) is unlikely to take into account the unconscious, although this is what it must do to be effective. It often happens that buyers are not able to cover the entire range of products presented. To speed up the process, buyers allow their unconscious mind to make the decision. For example, in a supermarket, a visitor can buy 50 or 100 items. To appreciate the merits of each, he will have to spend a lot of time in the store. Instead, he chooses clearly labeled (branded) products to which he associates his core values, ideally from his own experience, but more often from memorable and characteristic slogans. Is it true that Domestos kills all known microbes on the spot? How many buyers know this for sure? Most likely, only those who have a specially equipped laboratory at home. Is it true that BMW is really the “perfect car”? If we assume that this is the case, then a certain driver has at least compared all the numerous brands.

The main problem of research is rooted in the very nature of consciousness. Since people are good at explaining everything and are convinced that their actions are controlled by consciousness (although this is not so), and also that they can consciously analyze their actions, research questions will almost always have answers. These answers will fit into a convenient permanent pattern. There may even be differences in the reactions of different groups, which should confirm the reliability of the results. However, such an unchanging and supposedly full of deep meaning picture does not say anything about the initial accuracy of the answers. When a company that commissioned a study acts on its results and brings its service, product, new communication strategy, updated price (or whatever) into the real world, it may find that they are reacted to in a completely different way than they should according to the results obtained.

If we recognize that there are times when we are not aware of what we are doing or thinking (when driving, for example), then we can come to terms with the idea that we only know what we should have been doing and therefore thinking at the time. The problem is that we often do not understand what made us act one way or another, although we can after the fact find confident, albeit erroneous, justifications for our actions that allow false facts in the study to look quite convincing. In social psychology, this phenomenon is so well known that it has even received a special name - the fundamental attribution error. But this term does not appear in research reports. It is still often the case that the answers collected in surveys (whether qualitative or quantitative) are nothing more than fairy tales that people like to tell themselves.

So is all research useless? Of course not. There is a good chance that when talking about a product, brand or service, a person can say something in a survey that will reveal the truth about buyers in general and about what really influences their behavior. But still, this will remain a special case - most likely, it will be the individual opinion of one respondent, and not the result of a generalized opinion of the sample as a whole. Looking at research in this light reveals important prerequisites for choosing its method, its budget, and the value you must give to its results.

This text is an introductory fragment.

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Positive expectations (unreal reality) - Climbing. Fear and anxiety

Expectations - whether positive or negative - can significantly distort a person's perception of his reality.

Let's talk today about positive expectations - more specifically, why even positive expectations can become a source of disappointment.

Aspiring to the future and making plans for it, a person expects to receive some desired result in the future. The parameters of this result can be very detailed, more or less specific, but more often the result appears in the form of a general and vague image of success, which a person will strive for and which he will passionately desire.

In anticipation of something positive in the future, a person emotionally tunes in to it, anticipating the experience of pleasant emotions from achieving success.

Arthur Schopenhauer said that a person usually finds joys lower and disappointments higher than his expectations. Why is that? Let's figure it out. Setting the indispensable achievement of a specific expected result will necessarily come into conflict with real situations, with what will be achieved in reality.

The real result will always differ from the coveted expected images. And if a person is not able to adapt to his reality, bringing his expectations in line with it, then he will be offended or angry with reality, fate, with other people because his expectations are not realized.

Comparison of the expected image (blurry, hazy, often pinkish) with a clear and concrete reality (sometimes dim or too harsh) can evoke disappointment, despair and injustice, which makes a person deeply unhappy.

Setting on expectations can seriously disrupt the living of the current moment in our here and now. In the process of waiting, a person often plunges into fantasies, shows impatience, rushes time, sometimes trying to kill the waiting time mercilessly. Being in the center of his actual judgment, a person drops out of the focus of being, because the focus of his attention slips into the future, onto the fantasy of realized expectations.

In addition to such fantasies, a person can also experience considerable anxiety, because a person often subconsciously feels the improbability that his expectations will come true in the form in which he imagines it, that is, that the reality will differ significantly from his fantasies and expectations.

And hence the fears that the expected positive future will never come, that expectations will not be realized, that disappointments and frustration are inevitable. Anxiety of expectation can sometimes completely deprive a person of aspiration for the future, which is expressed in the refusal of a person to actively live his being in his here and now.

As a result, a person may not only fail to notice the real opportunities that are given to him here and now, his matrix of courts, but also pass by those facets of reality that could bring him joy, and as a result make him happy ...

Only in the case active movement towards the embodiment of the image of the future, a person will be sensitive to the challenges and opportunities of the current moment. However, if a person is aimed at possession, that is, at achieving some ardently desired end result at any cost, he eventually faces the anxiety of expectation.

A person can get rid of the anxieties of expectation only with undivided presence in the focus of being, with complete immersion in one's current reality.

According to Merab Mamardashvili, being present means being free from expectations. To paraphrase, it can be argued that expectation is alien to being.

A person does not wait in his being - he simply lives, creating his own destiny, moving in the direction of his dreams, relying on the opportunities provided by the matrix of fate, which is possible only with the full opening of his current reality.

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