Expectations: The Secret to Why You’re Never Satisfied

If there is something that exceeds your expectations, you are happy. If there is nothing, you’re disappointed, upset or anxious. So, given that you set your own expectations, we see a great chance for you to gain more autonomy over your enjoyment of life. Let’s find out what an expectation is, how it’s created, and what you can do differently about this whole process.


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Full transcript (unedited)

And today we’re gonna be talking about managing your expectations. That was a big one. Because ultimately your enjoyment of life, whether or not you’re happy, comes down to whether or not reality meets or exceeds your expectations. We’re going to be diving into that more fully as we go on today. But what I’d really like to start with is just a plant the seed the idea that if you don’t enjoy life, it has nothing to do with what’s actually occurring in reality. It’s all to do with your perspective as managed by expectations. If reality is seen to be below your expectations, then you will suffer. Now reality is reality. Reality is the baseline, the reality isn’t at fault for your suffering, your expectations, being above reality, is what creates a suffering. And that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. So we’ll see where we go with this expectations is one of my favorite topics to talk about, it can be an absolute mindfuck, to see the link between your expectations and your suffering, or your enjoyment of life. And we’re going to have a look at what expectations are the benefits and the costs of having them, how to manage them and get to a place where your life is improved by your expectations rather than setting you up to fail. So let’s have a look at what our expectations. Ultimately, they’re based on the future, aren’t they? Expectations are a prediction of some kind, you were looking forward in thinking this should happen. Now the there’s going to be a big link language wise between the concept of expectation and the word should should is a major, major player in the expectation game. And if you’re looking for something tangible to hold on to, to manage your expectations, though, the word should can become your your red flag, your warning system, every time you catch yourself using the wedge should your an expectation town, right. And I I still use this word still comes up in my lexicon. But it’s a word that I’m really cautious about now. Because as soon as I use that word, it’s impossible for me to use the word should without creating an expectation. As soon as they hear the word should arm saying I’ve made a prediction about the future. And I believe that prediction is accurate. Not just accurate, but 100% Certain should is saying My prediction is 100% Certain this should happen. I have decided what reality will be I am the creator I am God I am owning universe when I use the word should. I’m saying this is how the future will be. We use the word all the time, don’t we? And yet the connotation it has of being the ultimate controller of the universe as ludicrous, isn’t it? And yet, we throw that word around like free candy. So we are expectations based they’re based mostly in the future, but we can see them in the past as well. That should not have happened. This should have happened this have should have should not have this idea that the reality that’s already happened. So we’ve got full evidence now of a reality has already taken place. And we’re saying it was wrong. That reality got it wrong, we’ll write in our infinite wisdom, but reality was wrong. Because that shouldn’t have happened. Well, that should have happened a different way. So one of the key things in order to know when you’re having the expectation is keeping track of their language should shouldn’t. Mark should do this because I asked him to Jonathan shouldn’t have done that because that was the wrong thing to do. This you’re saying that I’ve decided what reality will be and it’s different what reality actually took place or will take place. How do you know in terms of emotional sensations when you’re having an expectation? There’s there’s there’s two key ones there’s a lot of different things that come up but two key ones for keeping track of that can only occur with expectations, hope and disappointment. Hope is an expectation about the future. I’m hoping this will happen and when it really becomes an expectation that’s when that hope has a certainty to the should happen right. So that hope they’re kind of sensation of anticipation they’re building excitement is a huge One around an expectation. Anxiety is another one. I said too. But really, I should have said three should have. anxiety. Anxiety is you’re expecting something to go wrong, isn’t it, you’re expecting a risk to play out with harmful consequences. So anxiety said, I’ve predicted the future being harmful to me. And I’m sure of it, my body’s already reacting with fight or flight, it isn’t waiting for the, for the danger to occur, my body’s already reacting with fight or flight right now. It’s acting as if the danger is already occurring. That means that certain, doesn’t have some part of my brain that it manages that emotional experience, that physical or physiological experience has decided that this risk has already come to pass. So we’ve got hope. We’ve got anxiety, which is I think, given more certainty attached to the future, and disappointment, regret when you look back on the past, when you look at what has happened, you faced with the reality of the situation, and you feel let down by it. You see this happen all the time, it’s one of the most damaging things you can do as a parent is to tell your child that you’re disappointed and you’re saying to them, the real you isn’t good enough. I wanted a better version, the one that you are, that has not lived up to my standards, that the reality of you is a disappointment. Such a shame creating thing to say to a child is such a damaging thing to say child damaging things, say to an adult, you know, for me, with my people pleasing background, being a nice guy, so to speak. Disappointment was the thing I avoided almost as much as I avoided confrontation. You know, I had a moment as a couple of years ago now three or four years ago, where I let someone down. And they said, I’m just disappointed in you. And I felt it still even after all these years of self development. I felt this kind of sad, warm, yuck feeling in my guts when they said that word. There’s so much shame attached to their world, so much emotional pain, touch that word disappointment. So understand the expectations come with emotional warning signs and language warning signs. Yeah, if you’re feeling anxiety, or hope you’re living in an expectation, if you’re feeling disappointment, regret, you’re also living in a you’ve just passed an expectation and reality didn’t match it. And you using the word should or shouldn’t, could have even, you know, using this language that says reality was wrong. There’s no challenge coming back to that word should try to find a way to use the word should in the same sentence as describing something that’s real. The should or shouldn’t try to actually make that lineup with a real piece of evidence. Now maybe I’ve missed it, but I don’t think it’s possible. That word should is always a description of something that’s not real, fictional. So I’ve got a definition of an expectation. The way I define define expectation, it’s a prediction based on an unreasonable certainty. A prediction based on an unreasonable certainty must say marinated an unreasonable certainty. You’ve predicted something. And you’ve given it such a level of certainty to be unreasonable. Why is it unreasonable? Because it does not align with evidence. Anything that you’re 100% sure of, even in the present moment, is unreasonable. Because the brain is not that trustworthy. Your brain is definitely not that good at predicting things. Think of it like the weather. When you look at weather predictions on the news. And they’ll say I’ll be sunny tomorrow. And you know, sometimes they get it right. Sometimes they get it wrong. But look at the predictions when they try to go beyond tomorrow. And they go further and further into the future just how wrong they get. Because the weather has so many variables involved in the weather, it’s so unpredictable. Even the most complicated machinery and computers cannot predicted accurately more than a few days ahead. Is the same with expectations about anything in the future. Even expecting someone’s behavior they are so affected but like by variables like the weather, there by the time the prediction comes to pass, they will have changed significantly. On what do you think what evidence or expectations based on when we say this should happen or shouldn’t happen? How have we come to that conclusion when we get the base As for their belief system. So often it’s about looking in the past isn’t. Often we think the situation is like another situation, and therefore that situation will repeat itself. You take an example like, let’s say, entitlement to see you take a woman who was daddy’s little princess when she was a girl. Daddy didn’t deny her anything. He was the male role model in her life. He was the model for all future men in her life. Anything she wanted? He gave her. There’s nothing too good for his little princess. Right? What are you? What effect do you think that’ll have when she gets into her first relationship with a man? What will she be expected? Based on that experience? How realistic will that expectation be? Seems obvious in that example, doesn’t you raise someone to be an entitled Little Princess, they’re going to be severely disappointed by the reality of life. And yet, we’ve been all raised to expect things without even being aware of it. We think, hey, somebody should be polite. Why? Why do we think that? Somebody should treat me fairly? Why? Why on earth? Do you think someone should treat you fairly? What evidence do you have for that? What kind of assumptions and biases are affecting that expectation based on your experience? You know, one of the biggest expectations I see people have is the belief that law should be fear that you see there, you can see it in the way movies are often written with a good guy wins in the end, or the the couple find themselves in the end and fall in love and happily ever after. It’s so unrealistic when you look at the wider scope, the evidence that we have in real life, like if you take the expectation, people should treat me nicely. Right? You think it’s really reasonable to expect their look at human history? Have humans treated each other nicely? Rarely, is there evidence for that? If humans treat each other fairly, you see plenty of evidence of that. Because I don’t, I’m no historian. But what I see is war, torture, conflict, hatred, amongst the some other things, but I do not see fair treatment. And no point in time have I’ve been presented with evidence that shows that the universe balances things out. People will talk about karma all the time. And so often, evil people succeed, good people die early, there is no real basis for this. Expectations or this fictional thing based on your previous history, or your perception of your dream world. So often, somebody will have an expectation based on how they think universe will be, even though they’ve never seen evidence of that. You know, somebody could be in seven failed relationships, and still be holding on to the expectation like, the other person should just do what I want, even though it’s never worked for them. So what’s the point of expectations? If they if they’re so fictional, and can create so much disappointment and resent? Why do we have them? What are the benefits? Let’s step back for a second and take away the certainty that we attach and just look at predictions. Think about how helpful predictions are. If I naively go into every single new interaction with a person and just trust them 100% And not even consider the possibility that they could fuck me over, not even remotely tried to map out how their current behavior may play out in the future. I’m probably going to get thought, you know, if every time a salesperson comes up to me, I do not take any my previous experience with salespeople and apply it to this person. I’m going to end up probably being convinced to buy a lot of shit I don’t need there is a benefit in taking my past experience and extrapolating it out to a certain point. Now the difficulty is, is this particular salesperson coming up to me might be about to change my life was something I need. Something I deeply want. I shouldn’t say need shouldn’t if we go again. And if I apply that past experience ago, this is just another person trying to steal my money. I’m going to miss out on that thing. So the 100% certainty factor is the real issue here predicting the future. There’s no problem with that. It’s thinking you’re right. That sets you up for disappointment. You can Hold on to a prediction and uncertainty at the same time. It’s so few of us do because it’s an effort to do. So. Why do we believe our predictions of the future so strongly, because it’s easy. It’s easy for me to go every woman’s the same. It’s easy for me to go things should be this way. It’s easy for me to go the life always works out this one way, there’s linear pattern that always follows it. I don’t need to be open to any other way happening. It’s lazy. It’s effort free. The cost of taking that easy way out. Disappointment, regret, anxiety, broken dreams, shattered relationships, expectations can probably do more harm to your quality of life than just about anything. Look at it this way. Here’s your expectation line, right? This is what you think should happen. I want you to think, what do you feel when reality is above the expectation when your expectation was exceeded? If you’re great, don’t you feel lucky? You feel like you’ve got a good deal. You feel like happy, satisfied content? And what do you feel when it’s below it? When reality falls short of your expectation, lets you down to this. Disappointment, regret resentment. We take this away. In reality, it’s just reality, there is no benchmark for how good or bad it is. So only when we bring in an expectation that reality now has an assessment. If you’re completely open mindedly curious reality would just be reality, there would be no good or bad or just be this is what is happening. It’s only expectation that gives it they’re good or bad type assessment isn’t it. And predicting stuff is definitely a good survival tool, we can see plenty of evidence, predicting planning, looking forward, in our minds, simulating the future to get ourselves prepared for things that are likely to occur, can be helpful. It’s just when we go that will occur that should occur. That shouldn’t have occurred. That’s when it hurts. So expectations aren’t what I’d consider to be natural predicting is it’s the certainty part, the entitlement. This is something I’m going to do a separate video about what I call special snowflake syndrome. I like to make up syndrome. So you guys knew that the special snowflake syndrome is about this concept that you’re so unique, is so individual and special that you’re entitled, entitled can go both way you’re entitled to be punished. Both there’s you’re entitled to be rewarded. And often you have both. You think my problems are my own. I’m this unique freak with only I’m the only one who has a suffering. And then also, I’m so amazing that I should get all this stuff for free. The life should be good to me. All this expectation that comes from entitlement. I want you to really take the time to think about what’s occurred in your past to create this entitlement this expectation, why do you believe you can predict things? And why do you think reality should meet your predictions? What evidence do you base that on? I used to have this a lot I had, I mean the biggest expectation I live by as if I’m nice to people, they’ll be nice to me. I live by there for more than two decades. If I’m nice to people, they’ll be nice to me. He got to think we as the evidence for that. When you look around the world, the way the world functions where human beings interact, do you see really undeniable evidence that every time you’re nice to someone, they’re nice back? Because I don’t, normally more. And I asked myself, where did I get this? Because as soon as you just take even a brief glimpse at the world, you see, it’s completely untrue. They’re being nice people doesn’t matter shit. People just do whatever they want to do when everyone’s kind of self serving. But why did I think that? I think about the storytellers, I was told as a child, I think about the movies, I was exposed to the moral messaging I got from parents and teachers and so on. Do one to others as you would this kind of idea that people will treat you well, if you treat them well. A lot of people told me that but they didn’t have any evidence to base it on. This is what I call a sickness that’s been passed down from generation to generation. This idea that people will reciprocate kindness, and yet there’s never been evidence for it. So completely unscientific and valid invalid belief Think about the expectations. What do you think should happen in your future? What do you think should have happened differently in the past? And ask yourself? Where’s my evidence to believe that? Because reality is clearly different than than the most significant piece of evidence, reality has denied my expectation is told me I’m wrong, clearly in no uncertain terms. So why do I keep clinging to something that’s not real? Why do I wish that other reality occurred? There’s there’s all sorts of cognitive biases that play in here. You know, there’s one of the key ones is confirmation bias, your brain looks to prove what it already knows to be true. So if you think something will keep happening, then you’ll look for evidence and it keeps happening. The disappointment will be felt every time you see evidence against their disappointment will be reality got it wrong. It’s trying to keep that belief the same rather than shed I got it wrong. That’s a good insight. Yeah, I’m learning something I need to add to my base of information because I was clearly wrong about this reality has proven that undeniably. Girls are just like me. This girl goes, No, I don’t like you to do it again. They can’t believe that girl doesn’t like me. Gonna she doesn’t reality. One of them doesn’t. I must change my beliefs. Now. The evidence compels me to you have recency bias is this thing in the human brain where it takes the most recent experience and gives way more importance than experiences before that. So you might have somebody who’s, you know, they’ve been tracking along behaving a certain way in your life for a long time, then they do something really nice for you. And that’s the last thing they did. And now you’re expecting that, again, that’s become like a new precedent that I’ve seen. And when they go back to being kind of normal, you’re like, Come on, do the update, you know, I thought you’re going to be nice. Now what’s what’s going on? I’m disappointed. This idea that the thing they did most recently is more significant to the massive amount of evidence before it, we’ve got that in our brain, we don’t see reality objectively. The number one thing that an expectation shows us is that we do not objectively view reality, we subjectively view it, we color it, we skew it, we very selectively observe reality based on all these filters, these biases. And expectations has got to be one of the biggest ones. You want a certain life to occur, or you’re so familiar with a certain life that you expect it to occur. In your everyday reality is proving me wrong. You simply don’t see it. If you think that you’re able to accurately predict reality. Your biases are so strong that you’re just looking at tiny little fractional pieces of evidence and discarding all the obvious to a lot, perhaps the others obvious evidence that at least changes the perspective always as another good expectation word, always a must. It’s really, really difficult to use the word always in relation to something that’s real as well, because there are always exceptions. So somebody say living on the equator somewhere, they aren’t always sunny. They never say it’s sunny a lot. And very infrequently, it rains. They say it’s always sunny. So when it rains it disappointed. So it shouldn’t rain because it’s supposed to always be sunny. So well, no, today it’s raining. That’s reality. It was sunny until today. And now today is rain. And that is the only possible option as rain today. You’ve been in a relationship with someone and they’ve been really happy for three months, and then they’re sad when they need to support you’re like, Oh, why are you in such a bad mood? Why aren’t you happy, like normal? So well, whatever they were before today is irrelevant. Because today they said and that’s the that’s the end of it. Somebody’s on time for work for an entire year and they’re late one day. They’re disappointing. No, they’re not. They’re late today. That’s reality. Your disappointment is just you’re clinging to that past perception of them. Your parents treated you well. Strangers treat you like shit. You’re upset with the strangers. Somebody cuts you off in traffic. Oh, they shouldn’t have done that. While they did. It happened. Humans are capable of it and odds are you’ve done it too. This is another thing often we’re so disappointed in people’s behavior. And yet, at the same time so hypocritical. How often are you disappointed with someone for doing something that you have done? do you justify it to yourself, someone will be late. And again, I have held me up. How many times have you held others up? See how skewed your reality is when you’re using expectations? When you become so sure of yourself, that you lose sight of the real truth, which is you don’t know shit. None of us do. Let’s have a look at an extreme. What would it be like to have no expectations? What would it be like to go into every situation? With no structure? No template, no prediction, just to see what happens type approach. Think right now think back to a time where you are so unfamiliar with a situation that you you couldn’t even generate an expectation. There’s an example for me. For those of you don’t know, I live in New Zealand. And here the local indigenous cultures moldy. And they have a lot of traditions, you know, they have a whole culture. I’m kind of white New Zealand, oh, we don’t even have a culture. Like we don’t even know where we’re from half done. And I was being welcomed on to a marae. Moldy village and a meeting place. And I had no I knew there was a process going on. But I didn’t know what it was, I’d never experienced this before. I hadn’t even seen like video footage of it. I was complete like an infant, I had no awareness of what was going to happen. I was just showing up going. I have to wait and see. It was an absolute absence of expectations. And you know what I felt afraid. I felt fear. And I think this is the real appeal of expectations, even though it creates anxiety in us so often, is if we think we can predict the future, we feel like we’re in control. It’s a fear thing. I think one of the biggest fears that that we as humans really don’t want to acknowledge is the concept that we’re not in control. I saw a quote and I can’t remember who it’s by someone who was quoting about conspiracy theories. And he said, Well, I’m really paraphrasing and just butchering it here. He said, the theme with all conspiracies is that there’s some master group in control secretly. So pretty much all conspiracies have this idea of an authority controlling the majority, you know, that’s really like 1984 type stuff, no matter what, whether it’s 911, truthers or anti vaxxers, or whatever, you’ll see this idea that there’s a small minority controlling the rest of us secretly. And in this quote, he was talking about, well, the real, the real terror is not that somebody’s controlling us. It’s the truth. And that is no one is, no one’s at the controls. There are certain people of influence that I have no doubt. But the real, the real fear we have is not. It’s not that someone’s going controls that no one is, including ourselves. We’d like to think we’re in control of our lives. That’s what expectations do, this will happen. And this should happen because this is me at the steering wheel. Rather than the truth of the being, it’s more like wakeboarding. We’re not even driving the boat, we’re just hanging on for dear life as we go over the water and try not to facepalm. And we get to have some steering along the way. But ultimately, the person driving the boat decides where we go. And that’s kind of what life was like we hang on and try and do the best we can with the waves that were given. Expectations goes in the face of that expectation says no, there’s nothing to be afraid of, you got this, you’re in control. So what we’re looking at a life without expectations is essentially a life where you’ve accepted not being in control. An expectation is far less likely to occur. The least you have a need for expectation, for control. I’ve seen this. And this is just anecdotally now, the people I know who had the most expectations are all the also the peace, people who become the most anxious when situations are out of control. Conversely, the people I’ve seen who are the least likely to have the most prison people least likely to be thinking about the future and trying to predict it. And just kind of hear now I’m curious. Also people who are quite content and quite accepting of the concept of life being out of their control. They can take responsibility for themselves, but they understand that anything external to themselves is beyond the control variables that are outside of their sphere of influence. So in terms of why would we live without expectations, it’s a decision you’ll need to Make, you can continue to have expectations if you like, I don’t know how you can do it, when it’s so obvious that they are fictional. And they just almost always lead to anxiety or disappointment slash depression. But if if you want to choose the life of no expectations, there’s a few things you need to do. First off, you need to be aware when they’re happening, looking for that language like should shouldn’t looking for emotional states of disappointment, regret, anxiety or hope. These are all warning signs, you’re living in an expectation. Once you notice these warning signs, get out a piece of pen and paper, find a quiet place you can and go, Why am I experiencing this? What am I expected? What is the alternative reality I’m clinging to that does not match? Or might not match the reality that I live in? How am I seeing a difference? What am I saying should or shouldn’t happen? What am I worried about? What problems Am I trying to solve that don’t exist yet? These are the these are the things that will help you give clarity designed to your expectation. How do we deal with that? And once we’ve recognized that, we put it to the test. I think this should happen. All right. Let’s go see if it does. I think this shouldn’t happen. All right, let’s go see if it doesn’t. To idea to take the expectation from 100% Certainty down to 99. Get their 1% uncertainty go you know what this might not be true. Let’s go and do an experiment to see if it is or not. Somebody should never be late. All right. Let’s wait and see. Let’s see if they never late. Because if the late once I was wrong, simple as that. recognize those alternative possibilities, especially when it comes to looking at the past. Just notice how you cling to something that’s not real. When I say that shouldn’t have happened. What I’m saying is there was a reality in the past, an alternative one, there was a Daniel living in this alternate universe who had a different life. Let’s say I look back and I’d say I shouldn’t. I wish I wish that person hadn’t crashed into me on the motorway. What I’m saying is in some other universities, a Daniel that didn’t have a car accident. And his life is ultimately so much better than mine. And that’s where their disappointments, I’m feeling I’m comparing myself to the other Daniel going he’s killing it. And let’s loser over here. Just coming to the realization that other Daniel doesn’t exist. He’s not real. And we’re saying that that’s what would have happened to him. Let’s say there is the possibility of alternate universes. What of me having that car accident prevented me from running someone over 10 minutes later, maybe his life is 10 times worse. Maybe he’s in jail for manslaughter, whereas I just had a car accident. Your prediction, those those alternative realities, they’re always such a grass is greener thing. And you don’t know that you haven’t looked at the other possibilities? What if everything that’s happened to you is made you have the best life you could possibly have? That actually have all those terrible suffering things you went through didn’t happen, you’d be even worse off. You don’t think about that, do you and you have expectations, you only think about what you missed out on, which isn’t giving enough fairness to the alternate possibilities. If you really want to look at alternative possibilities, you got to look at them more fairly. And if you just commit to accepting whatever happens as a learning, whatever happens, I get to hone my prediction skills, rather than clinging to my outdated skills that were obviously wrong, because reality is proven wrong. I can hone them. So next time someone betrays my trust, instead of saying they should have been more trustworthy. I can say actually, my ability to predict people wasn’t at 100% because I got that one wrong. Now what can I learn from this? Turns out that just because I like someone doesn’t make them trustworthy. I need to keep that in mind. That just because someone’s been trustworthy for 10 years doesn’t mean they’ll continue to be. You know, a friend of mine entered a long term relationship of almost a decade. And it really surprised all of us. And a lot of people said, Wow, I just so didn’t expect that. You know, like, I can’t believe he did that. I thought, well, he’s done it. What can’t you believe about it? What what evidence what further evidence do you need to see I mean, he’s done it. It’s happened. It is underway as moved out. He’s living with another person in a different house. I mean, how much more evidence do you need to be slapped in the face worth to go actually, I can believe it. Yeah, I’m seeing never thought he would continue with a I was wrong. Not it’s unbelievable. I was wrong. That Yeah, someone can be in a relationship with someone for a decade and then change their mind. That’s a good learning. Good learning is understanding no relationships guaranteed no matter how long it goes for. It’s probably good that I know that. Rather than get into a relationship thing, while this one’s in the bag, I never have to work at it. Right? So hope this has been helpful for you. For me, managing expectations is really the crux of enjoyment of life. If you can keep breaking up your expectations, to incorporate the new evidence that reality is presented to you. You’re going to be living in the real world rather than some fantasy fiction. And living in the real world means you’re going to be living with the evidence that you can do something with something they can you know, you can really live your life by as opposed to cling to this Harry Potter Lord of the Rings fictional universe that does not exist. So go out there and see if you can break some of the expectations and accept the reality. And I’ll see you next time for brojo online. Cheers.

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