Unrealistic Expectations = Sadness and Disappointment


When was the last time you had planned something down to the last detail, you were excited about the outcome and then BAM! Yep, disappointment.  It happens to everyone. We expect the people in our lives to act a certain way, and then disappointment, they don't. We hope a trip or vacation to go a certain way, and then disappointment, it doesn't go as planned.  The simplest definition of disappointment "the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one's hopes or expectations." 

The feeling of sadness or displeasure

When we place expectations or hopes on what we wish the outcome to be, we are setting ourselves up for sadness or displeasure when it doesn't work out the way we wished.  I am just as guilty as you; I recently had planned a Thanksgiving trip with my family to visit my soon to be ninety-year-old grandmother. The day before we were planning to leave my nine-year-old son came down with the flu and had a 102-degree fever.  I would not go under any good moral compass drive seven hours to Pittsburgh and expose my aging grandmother to the flu. So, I decided to cancel our trip, and we had to plan Thanksgiving in Asheville, which we had not. I was disappointed and frustrated that my entire trip got screwed up. I allowed myself to get in a bad head space for a day, and it put a strain on my loved ones around me.  When something does not go the way we had hoped or expected, we go through a stage of sadness or displeasure.  

Setting realistic expectations

If we get stuck in our head too long or our disappointment is so bad that is impacts our lives, then we are setting unrealistic expectations in our lives.  We need to learn how to set realistic expectations for our relationships, employment, and other aspects of our lives. When something does not go as planned, we have to step back for a minute and ask ourselves if the expectation that we set was unrealistic and should I be reacting the way that I am for the situation.  It was ok for me to get disappointed that I could not see my grandmother or have Thanksgiving with my family in Pittsburgh, but I allowed my disappointed to impact other people around me. 

We have to start being realistic when things don't go our way and stop acting like the world has ended and figured out a solution to overcome the disappointment or sadness.  In a relationship, if someone rejects you when you meet them for the first time, or breaks up with you after a few months or dating or even after a decade of marriage, it will hurt no matter the length of time. We can choose to feel deflated entirely, or we can look at the rejection or situation as an opportunity for self-growth or change.  Most cases, disappointment is something we create in our mind. We need to evaluate the situation and see if there was something we could have done to change the outcome, to avoid the disappointment. Often it comes down to the fact that we put the situation, relationship, or person on such a high pedestal (high-expectations) that when it did come out the way we expected, we had such profound sadness or disappointed.

It starts with you.

Setting expectations starts with you. When you plan a vacation, you need to understand that not everything is going to work out perfectly, it might, but there is a chance something will go wrong. We can get frustrated, or we go with the punches and look at the positive in the situations. Our partner after a decade may break up with you, and you can be devastated and sulk for weeks, months or years, or you can look at the situation as an opportunity for growth and change in your own life.  When life happens, we have the choice to pick the feelings and reactions to the situation. We can open our minds and hearts and realize things happen for a reason and that negative energy such as sadness or disappointment takes a lot of energy out of us. We can step back and focus on the positives from the situation and move on with a positive mindset. Grow, learn, create new opportunities for yourself.