How We Constantly Set Ourselves Up For Failure & Disappointment

When we attach our happiness to our expectations, we set ourselves up for failure and disappointment.

No matter how hard you try, the truth is that sometimes things aren't going to go your way -- and that's okay, if you understand how to make sure that you aren't setting yourself up for failure and didppointment.

All of us do it; we create expectations about what we want to happen in any given circumstance, and when it doesn't live up to our mind's cretion, we are knocked back doen to a less-than-what-we-expected reality that isn't so pleasant.

Many of us are prisoners of our own expectations, and we don't even realize it. When we attach our happiness to our expectations, we set ourselves up for failure and disappointment.

Let’s use vacations as an example. I’ve seen plenty of people do this, and I’m guilty of doing it myself.

For weeks, months, sometimes even years, we build up this idea of the places we want to visit and form expectations about what the experience will be like. Crystal-clear oceans and frosted mountain peaks, fresh seafood and chocolates under your hotel pillows, it’s all part of this big vacation fantasy in our minds.

But things don’t go according to plan. Frustrating setbacks and unpleasant details that we didn’t anticipate change our outlook, and before long the vacation is ruined, or at the very least we’re left with a hollow feeling of disappointment because things just aren’t as great as we imagined they’d be.

There’s even a temporary psychiatric disorder called the ‘Paris Syndrome,’ a mental breakdown suffered by tourists visiting Paris who find the city is not as beautiful as they expected.

How many Paris Syndrome type episodes are we constantly subjecting ourselves to with our unrealistic expectations?

Giving Away Our Emotional Freedom Through Attachment to Expectation

Whether it’s a vacation, date, birthday, anniversary, or anything else, when we attach our happiness to the outcomes that we desire, we set ourselves up for disappointment, because sooner or later, things won’t go the way we wish they would.

And that’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. Because your experience can still be enjoyable, once you get past your grief over what you wish it could’ve been, and start dealing with reality.  

Just think about how often we realize later that we should be grateful that our expectations didn’t come to pass.

Remember that one ex from your teenage or college years, the one you so deeply thought was The One? At the time, you invested your entire sense of well-being in the outcome of that relationship, but now you can see what a terrible mistake that union would’ve been.

You probably have more than a few experiences like that, hindsight being 20/20.

When we impose rigid expectations on the world, we’re struggling against reality. We can’t possibly know enough about the big picture to make an informed decision about the way things should be.

We all have lessons to learn, and some of them are difficult and they can’t be learned without friction. If we could choose everything that happens in our lives, chances are we’d choose what’s easy instead of what we need.

So instead of fighting tooth and nail for that thing that you’re trying so hard to force into existence, why not take a deep breath and make friends with reality? Put your thoughts and prayers towards what you want, put the work in, and if it’s meant to happen, then it will happen.

And if it’s not meant to happen, something else will.

The Master
Doesn’t seek fulfillment,
Not seeking,
Not expecting,
He is present and can welcome all things.

- Lao Tzu, the Tao te Ching

Additional Reading:

Psychology Today

The Telegraph


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