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Expectations

Expectations can weigh like a boulder in the life path of every person. On the contrary, those who expect nothing gain their freedom.

Generally speaking, we usually expect events to happen as we would like. We create expectations about how things should go and how others should be and must behave with us. For example, we always expect someone to react positively to something we say or do. Too many times we are disappointed in a situation or person because it does not correspond to our expectations. Let us reflect on the fact that those who do not expect anything lose nothing. Although it may seem a bit daunting, we can reformulate the concept differently. It is better not to create too many expectations because this involves great power.

One has to work on the mind, so as not to create false hopes or wrong ideas. Who expects nothing, frees himself from disappointments.

It is possible to live without expectations. More or less everyone clings to the idea of how what has yet to happen should happen. The key lies in the concept of “clinging”. When we cling to an idea, we are much more likely to suffer if it does not materialize.

The answer lies in detaching ourselves from a concrete result. For example, if we expect someone to do something for us, but they let us down, we will suffer. Therefore, if instead, we remain open to the possibility that the expectation may or may not happen, we will be unconsciously considering both options.

Buddhists claim that everyone tries to be happy, but only a few discover the correct path. As we seek our happiness, we may hurt others. Even unintentionally: it is a possibility.

Buddhism considers accepting that someone can defraud us or disappoint us; to accept that our plans will not go as hoped and to accept that our expectations can fall apart. His teachings are so profound, that accepting that something you believed might not happen is not experienced as a drama, but as a liberation. This liberation consists in taking the reins of one’s happiness and not leaving it in the hands of external events. Those who do not expect anything from an event or from another person have everything. He knows he has to evaluate (and accept) all possible possibilities. And not just the favorable one.

Simply, we must always keep in mind that we too, at least once, have disappointed the expectations of others. We must free ourselves from mental rigidity. Life, destiny, existence, or whatever you want to call it, will not always reveal itself in the way hoped for. Many people repeat phrases such as “all I do is accumulate disappointments, one after the other”. Complaints and regrets add up to infinity for everything that does not go as it “should”.

The crux of the matter is to understand that things go as they should go and not how we want them to go. When there is a mismatch between the expectation (often unreal or unjustified), suffering emerges. Even so, it is obvious, we will happen to receive some disappointments, but the emotional consequences of these episodes will no longer be so painful. Furthermore, we could use the situation to our advantage. We will learn, for example, to accept others without projecting onto them the expectation of how we want them to be.

If everything is possible, we will be more likely to accept that the unexpected may arise.

Lama Rinchen, a Buddhist teacher, says that “the possibility of things happening the way we don’t want to happen is much higher than how we expect them.” Using this simple aphorism, he invites us to reflect on whether we really have so much power to be able to control any situation, event, or manifestation of real life. Rinchen embraces the goddess that everything is possible. At the same time, he suggests choosing this approach as the main one, one’s own, and personal. If everything is possible, we will be more likely to accept that the unexpected may arise. “We are victims of our mental afflictions, the true enemies of peace and serenity. These afflictions – which are excessive attachment, hatred, pride, greed, etc. – they are mental states that cause us behaviors that cause all our unhappiness and suffering. Most of our problems, and which we ultimately create ourselves, ultimately stem from those negative emotions

To those who expect nothing, all options seem possible. By acting in this way we will be more open to what might actually happen. Projecting an idea or a hope into the future can be good to fill us with energy and optimism while being aware that the ending may not be aligned with expectations.

A decisive aspect to definitively eradicate the suffering that comes from frustrated expectations is to let the mind rest and reflect clearly.

Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo is a lawyer and teacher of law & Economic Sciences, "lent" to the finance world. He has worked, in fact, 35 years long for a multinational company of financial service in the auto sector, where he held various roles, until that of CEO. In the corporate field, he has acquired skills and held positions as Credit Manager, Human Resource Manager, Team leader for projects of Acquisition & Merger, branch opening, company restructuring, outplacement, legal compliance, analysis and innovation of organizational processes, business partnerships, relations with Trade Unions and Financial Control Institutions. After leaving the company, he continued as an external member of the Board of Directors e, at the same time, he has gone back practicing law and was a management consultant for various companies. He has been also a columnist for newspapers specializing in labor law, automotive services and work organization. His interests include human behavior in the organizational environment, to the neuroscience, the impact of new technologies, the fate of the planet and people facing poverty or war scenarios. He loves traveling, reading, is passionate about many sports, follows the NBA and practices tennis.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Aldo. I love this piece. I’ve recently re-read a book called inward by yung pueblo that has a Buddhist undertone. We are the only ones capable of finding our peace, which is so powerful if we can learn to embrace it. I loved this line, “We must free ourselves from mental rigidity. Life, destiny, existence, or whatever you want to call it, will not always reveal itself in the way hoped for.” AMEN!

  2. Thank you, Aldo, enjoyed reading your post – great insights.

    Expectations are the strong belief that something will happen or be the case. Factually, our expectations determine our reality. We must also be mindful that often times, our expectations also impact those around us and people may rise or fall depending on our expectations and beliefs.
    I believe that in order to find success in any aspects of our lives we have to go out and get/achieve it. When I wake up I choose to be happy and decide to face the day with determination and that enables me to go to bed with satisfaction. The little things that happen during the day make my days “big”. In retrospection, I realize that sometimes I am tested not to show my weaknesses, but to discover my strengths. I like what Michael Fox one said,

    “My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and inverse proportion to my expectations.”

  3. Great post as always. Expectations are a double edged sword. If we meet or exceed them our happiness is short lived. If they are not met our disappointment usually lasts longer. My hospital commander in the US Air Force told us to maintain a healthy balance in life, plan for the worst, hope for the best and accept whatever comes.

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