An expectation is to have an imaginative construct in our own mind, where we map out the desired outcome of a situation, or perhaps we place an expectation on another to become someone we think they should be, or to behave in certain way. By having developed this mental story or judgment we automatically attach an emotional value to it, (if this happens i’ll feel happy, if it doesn’t I’ll feel sad..) this makes us totally emotionally dependent on the outcome and by not meeting our own expectations we generally get all wound-up, frustrated or bitterly disappointed.
See, expectations come from a self-limiting mindset. Since we say “only if I achieve this or only if this happens” can I feel happy or satisfied. Well, you know those “only if thoughts” they’re just a little assumption that our mind automatically loves to do! These thoughts don’t actually serve us in any way, all they do is cause us stress and pressure. Basically the higher our expectations are, the higher our stress-levels will be. This often feels very similar to anxiety or depression. I like to think of it as a mental stress filled frustration trap!
Having a goal is very different to having an expectation because it comes from a more positive mindset. You’re passionate about something you genuinely want to achieve in your life and you don’t just expect this thing to happen over night, but you’re willing to work towards it. This gives you a clear direction to where you want to go, without making yourself emotionally dependent on the various outcomes. Instead of the “limiting only if mindset” we create a more open “oh, that would be cool” motivation mindset.
When we are motivated towards a goal our brain releases “feel good hormones” called endorphins and dopamine, which do more than only making you feel GREAT! They are also responsible for giving you the drive to achieve and perform, as well as improving your mental concentration and focus. That means that your brain will work under better conditions, which is helping you to reach your goals faster and easier. You turn your “mental stress frustration trap” into a “mental motivation trick”, simply by changing the way you look at it.
Usually we are not even aware of how much we expect from ourselves and others, until we pay attention to it. Have a look yourself. What do you expect from yourself? What do you expect from your partner, friends and the people around you? Can you find any expectations that doesn’t really serve you, or which aren’t really that important? Well, if there are, simply let go of them. Then you will probably have other expectations, which aren’t easy to let go of, because they are just important to you. Try and turn those expectations in a goals. You will decrease your stress hormones, feel lighter and more relaxed. Meanwhile, your brain can work under better conditions and make some magic!
So as an example, when I first started writing this blog post, I expected it to be pretty good, but that really puttee under pressure so I couldn’t even concentrate and didn’t bring a proper sentence out. I thought “oh no, I am trained to write as a scientist. I don’t know how to bring words to paper in an easy way, so that people actually understand it. Because honestly this scientific language is just a pain to read. But the moment I changed my thoughts into “oh well lets just try to bring this message over somehow, so hopefully its gonna help someone. Who cares how good it is” I felt released and suddenly the words came out. I actually had so much fun writing this post in the end, that I just purchased an online course about writing…in a non-scientific way 🙂